Mechanisms of Affect Dysregulation Lab

Michael McCloskey, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Current Studies

To further our research aims we are currently conducting these nationally funded studies (click a study title to get a more detailed explanation of the study).

This study is funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The purpose of this study is to see how individuals with different personality traits behave on a number of laboratory (mostly computerized) tasks that assess that assess cognitive (thinking) and psychomotor (behavioral response) tendencies.  The study is also designed to see how acute alcohol intoxication affects this relationship. This study consists of 2-3 visits over the course of 2-4 weeks.

This study is funded by National Institute of Mental Health. The goal of this study is to examine the effectiveness two forms of psychotherapy (also known as “talk therapy”) for individuals with anger and aggression problems , which we call Intermittent Explosive Disorder or “IED”.  In this study we are testing (1) the usefulness of anger management techniques in reducing anger and aggressive behavior among individuals with IED and (2) what changes are occurring in the brain when people become less angry and aggressive.  For this research study we are looking for individuals between the ages of 18 and 55, who have significant problems with anger and aggression (“IED”) . Qualified participants will be randomly assigned to 12 1-hour sessions of either cognitive-behavioral therapy or supportive psychotherapy. Before and after treatment participants will complete self report and behavioral tasks, including getting a functional Magnetic Resonance Image, also known as  “fMRI” or a “brain scan” to look at how the brain changes as a function of treatment.

The purpose of the study is to see whether certain areas of the brain function differently in people with a history of suicidal attempts. Both women with a history of suicide attempts and women without a history of suicide attempts are asked to complete tasks that are designed to engage ones emotions. During this time a functional Magnetic Resonance Image, also known as “fMRI” or a “brain scan” is taken to look at how the brain responds to these tasks.

The purpose of this study is to understand the social, emotional, and biological causes of anger in children. Information will be collected to develop programs to help children with anger problems. This study consists of four visits, over the course of one year. Primary caregivers and their children are invited to complete free, confidential evaluations related to their child’s anger problems and behavior. Children also will participate in activities while having images taken of their brain activity, and provide a small sample of saliva to investigate how their genes may be related to their emotions.


Our research cannot be completed without the generous time and effort of our research study participants. Participation typically involves filling out several questionnaires and completing computer- or lab-based tasks. If you are interested in participating, please free to contact us either by phone 215-204-CALM (215-204-2256) or by email ( to find out more information about the on-going studies and see if you qualify.

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