Distress tolerance to auditory feedback and functional connectivity with the auditory cortex.

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Distress tolerance is the capacity to withstand negative affective states in pursuit of a goal. Low distress tolerance may bias an individual to avoid or escape experiences that induce affective distress, but the neural mechanisms underlying the bottom-up generation of distress and its relationship to behavioral avoidance are poorly understood. During a neuroimaging scan, healthy participants completed a mental arithmetic task with easy and distress phases, which differed in cognitive demands and positive versus negative auditory feedback. Then, participants were given the opportunity to continue playing the distress phase for a financial bonus and were allowed to quit at any time. The persistence duration was the measure of distress tolerance. The easy and distress phases activated auditory cortices and fronto-parietal regions. A task-based functional connectivity analysis using the left secondary auditory cortex (i.e., planum temporale) as the seed region revealed stronger connectivity to fronto-parietal regions and anterior insula during the distress phase. The distress-related connectivity between the seed region and the left anterior insula was negatively correlated with distress tolerance. The results provide initial evidence of the role of the anterior insula as a mediating link between the bottom-up generation of affective distress and top-down behavioral avoidance of distress.





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Addicott, Merideth A, Stacey B Daughters, Timothy J Strauman and L Gregory Appelbaum (2018). Distress tolerance to auditory feedback and functional connectivity with the auditory cortex. Psychiatry research. Neuroimaging, 282. pp. 1–10. 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2018.10.003 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20731.

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Timothy J. Strauman

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

FOR POTENTIAL STUDENTS (fall 2024 class): 

Dr. Timothy Strauman and Dr. Ann Brewster will be seeking to admit a student for Fall 2024 who will be an important member of their collaborative projects. Dr. Brewster is an intervention scientist and a faculty member in Duke’s Social Science Research Institute. The collaborative projects focus on creating, testing, and implementing school-based therapeutic and preventive interventions for adolescents at risk for negative academic and mental health outcomes. We are partnering with the Durham Public Schools as well as with other local school districts, and Dr. Brewster has extensive experience and expertise in developing the partnerships, working with community members, and the intervention process itself. We are especially interested in applicants with experience in community-based interventions, with interests in adolescence, and with knowledge and experience working with both behavioral and neuroimaging data.

Professor Strauman's research focuses on the psychological and neurobiological processes that enable self-regulation, conceptualized in terms of a cognitive/motivational perspective, as well as the relation between self-regulation and affect. Particular areas of emphasis include: (1) conceptualizing self-regulation in terms of brain/behavior motivational systems; (2) the role of self-regulatory cognitive processes in vulnerability to depression and other disorders; (3) the impact of treatments for depression, such as psychotherapy and medication, on self-regulatory function and dysfunction in depression; (4) how normative and non-normative socialization patterns influence the development of self-regulatory systems; (5) the contributory roles of self-regulation, affect, and psychopathology in determining immunologically-mediated susceptibility to illness; (6) development of novel multi-component treatments for depression targeting self-regulatory dysfunction; (7) utilization of brain imaging techniques to test hypotheses concerning self-regulation, including the nature and function of hypothetical regulatory systems and characterizing the breakdowns in self-regulation that lead to and accompany depression.

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