Congratulations to the following:
Ashley Dennhardt received an NIH-funded postdoctoral research fellowship in the HABIT
lab at the University of Memphis.
Ali Yurasek will be completing her predoctoral clinical internship at Alpert Medical
School of Brown University.
Courtney Peasant will be completing her predoctoral clinical internship at Duke University
Ali Pickover recently had two papers accepted for publication in Drug and Alcohol
Lechner, W.V., Dahne, J., Chen, K.W., Pickover, A., & Lejuez, C.W. (in press). An
examination of psychotic symptom and substance use disorder comorbidity in an inpatient
sample. Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
Ali Yurasek, Ashley Dennhardt and James Murphy recently had a paper accepted for publication
in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Yurasek, A. M., Murphy, J. G., Hum, A. M., Dennhardt, A. A., & MacKillop, J. (in press). Smokers report
greater demand for alcohol on a behavioral economic purchase task. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Dr. Jessica R. Skidmore (HABIT lab alumnus and current postdoc at the University of
California San Diego) received a NIH loan repayment fellowship.
Welcome to our new HABIT lab Clinical Psychology Doctoral Students Lidia Meshesha
and Alison Pickover!
James Murphy, Ashley Dennhardt, and Jessica Skidmore recently had a paper accepted
for publication in the Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology.
Murphy, J. G., Dennhardt, A. A., Skidmore, J. R., Borsari, B., Barnett, N. P., Colby,
S. M.& Martens, M. P. (2012). A randomized controlled trial of a behavioral economic
supplement to brief motivational interventions for college drinking. Journal of Consulting
and Clinical Psychology.
Ali Yurasek received the NIDA\NIAAA Early Career Travel Award to attend the2012 Psychological
Association Convention in Orlando, Florida.
Jessica Skidmore defended her dissertation titled Behavioral Economic Measures of
the Reinforcing Efficacy of Alcohol as Indicators of Problem Severity in Young Adults.
Jessica Skidmore received a NIAAA-sponsored T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship at the San
Diego VA Medical Center.
Ashley Dennhardt received the Morton Dissertation award.
Ashley will be completing the predoctoral clinical internship at the Memphis VA Medical
Ali Yurasek was awarded a $5,000 grant from the 3rd Millennium Classrooms foundation
to evaluate a recently-developed computerized intervention for alcohol abuse.
The HABIT Laboratory conducts research related to addiction and health that is consistent
with two primary goals. First, we strive to conduct research that addresses important
public health priorities. For example, alcohol abuse among young adults results in
thousands of injuries, assaults, and fatalities each year, and can set the stage for
a lifelong pattern of alcohol abuse and/or dependence.
We have conducted several controlled clinical trials that have demonstrated that brief
interventions incorporating motivational interviewing and personalized drinking feedback
can reduce heavy drinking among young adults (including both college students and
military veterans). These interventions are now being adopted across the country and
are replacing previous models of “alcohol education” that were not efficacious. Recently,
we were funded by NIAAA to improve standard brief alcohol intervention by adding a
behavioral economic supplement that encouraged engagement in constructive alternatives
associated with delayed reinforcement.
Although we are primarily interested in conducting research related to alcohol and
drug abuse, we are also interested in studying other health-compromising behaviors
such as risky sexual behavior and smoking, as well as health-promoting behaviors such
as diet and exercise. Finally, we are interested in understanding how risk factors
such as impulsivity, high alcohol demand or reinforcing value, and comorbidity (depression,
PTSD) are related to both poor treatment response and the development of chronic substance
The second overarching goal of the HABIT Laboratory is to conduct applied clinical
research that is influenced by basic behavioral and biological research (e.g., translational
research) and contributes to the overall goal of improving our scientific understanding
of human behavior. For example, we have used behavioral economic theory and basic
laboratory research to guide our applied research on substance abuse etiology, assessment,
Behavioral economic theory predicts that (1) increasing substance-free sources of
reinforcement will reduce substance use, (2) proportional reinforcement from substance
use relative to substance-free activities (i.e., relative reinforcing value) is an
important index of drug problem severity, and (3) strong preference for immediate
versus delayed reinforcement (i.e., delayed reward discounting) may be an important
risk factor for addiction.
We are interested in understanding how these behavioral mechanisms contribute to the
development of substance abuse, and also in ways in which they can be targeted in
novel behavioral interventions.