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Brady Nelson, Ph.D


University of Illinois at Chicago (2013)
Assistant Professor, Clinical
 
Dr. Nelson plans to admit a new graduate student pending approval of funding.

Brady Nelson

Contact:

brady.nelson@stonybrook.edu
Office: Psychology B-420

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Research Interests:

Affective neuroscience and psychophysiology; Cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms of anxiety disorders and depression; Development of mechanisms across childhood and adolescence; Biomarkers of risk for psychopathology

Current Research:

My research program uses affective neuroscience to better understand the cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms that contribute to the development of psychopathology, with a particular emphasis on anxiety disorders and depression. To this end, I employ psychophysiological, neuroimaging, neuropsychological, biological, behavioral, observational, and self-report methods across child, adolescent, and adult populations. Overall, I aim to use affective neuroscience to better identify individuals who are at risk for psychopathology and improve efforts to prevent and treat mental illness.

To date my research has primarily focused on two potential mechanisms—sensitivity to uncertain/unpredictable threat and sensitivity to reward—using a variety of affective neuroscience techniques, including electroencephalography (EEG), event-related potentials (ERPs), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), heart rate variability, and the startle reflex. In addition to DSM-defined disorders, I also take a dimensional taxonomic approach, and include measures of personality, clinical traits, and transdiagnostic factors.  

Sensitivity to Uncertain/Unpredictable Threat and Anxiety Disorders

A core branch of my research program has examined sensitivity to uncertain/unpredictable threat as a mechanism of anxiety disorders. I have used a variant of the no, predictable, and unpredictable threat (NPU-threat) task, which contains three within-subject conditions: 1) no threat (N; participants are safe from threat), 2) predictable threat (P; threat is signaled by a short duration cue), and 3) unpredictable threat (U; threat is unsignaled). Throughout the task, the startle eye blink reflex is measured as an index of defensive motivation. Across multiple studies, increased startle potentiation in anticipation of unpredictable (but not predictable) threat has been associated with anxiety disorders, symptoms, and familial history (i.e., risk). In addition to the startle reflex, I have also examined ERP and fMRI measures during the NPU-threat task. I am currently examining startle and ERP measures during the NPU-threat task in children and adolescents, and how these measures relate to development, emerging symptoms of anxiety, and risk for psychopathology. 

Sensitivity to Reward and Depression

A second branch of my research program has examined reward sensitivity as a mechanism of risk for depression. In adolescent girls, I previously found that the reward positivity, an ERP indicator of reward sensitivity, prospectively predicted first-onset depressive disorders and increased depressive symptoms, independent of other prominent risk factors. I am currently the director of the Impact of Puberty on Affect and Neural Development across Adolescence (iPANDA) project, which is a longitudinal multi-method (ERPs and fMRI) study of within-subject trajectories of reward sensitivity and depressive symptoms in adolescent girls. The iPANDA project includes a baseline assessment (T 1: ages 8 to 14) and three follow-up assessments (T 2: ages 10 to 16; T 3: ages 12 to 18; and T 4: ages 14 to 20) of neural reward sensitivity and psychopathology. The study aims to examine whether baseline indicators of risk for depression predict developmental trajectories of reward sensitivity, developmental trajectories of reward sensitivity predict depression symptoms, and the impact of stress on developmental trajectories of reward sensitivity and depression symptoms.

Representative Publications:

Luking, K. R., Nelson, B. D., Infantolino, Z. P., Sauder, C. L., & Hajcak, G. (in press). Ventral striatal function interacts with positive and negative life events to predict concurrent youth depressive symptoms. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.

Mulligan, E., Nelson, B. D., Infantolino, Z. P., Luking, K. R., Sharma, R., & Hajcak, G. (in press). Effects of menstrual cycle phase on electrocortical response to reward and depressive symptoms in women. Psychophysiology.

Meyer, A., Nelson, B. D., Perlman, G., Klein, D. N., & Kotov, R. (in press). A neural biomarker, the error-related negativity, predicts the first onset of generalized anxiety disorder in a large sample of adolescent females. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Speed, B. C., Nelson, B. D., Levinson, A. R., Perlman, G., Klein, D. N., Kotov, R., & Hajcak, G. (2018). Extraversion, neuroticism, and the electrocortical response to monetary rewards in adolescent girls. Biological Psychology, 136, 111-118.

Kessel, E. M., Nelson, B. D., Kujawa, A. J., Hajcak, G., Kotov, R., Bromet, E., Carlson, G. A., & Klein, D. N. (2018). Hurricane Sandy exposure alters the development of neural reactivity to negative stimuli in children. Child Development, 89, 339-348.

Distefano, A., Jackson, F., Levinson, A., R., Infantolino, Z. P., Jarcho, J. M., & Nelson, B. D. (2018). A comparison of the electrocortical response to monetary and social reward. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 13, 247-255.

Nelson, B. D., Infantolino, Z. P., Klein, D. N., Perlman, G., Kotov, R., & Hajcak, G. (2018). Time-frequency reward-related delta prospectively predicts adolescent-onset depression. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience & Neuroimaging, 3, 41-49.

Nelson, B. D., Kessel, E. M., Klein, D. K., & Shankman, S. A. (2018). Depression symptom dimensions and asymmetrical cortical activity while anticipating reward. Psychophysiology, 55, e12892.

Speed, B. C., Jackson, F., Nelson, B. D., Infantolino, Z. P., & Hajcak, G. (2017). Unpredictability increases the error-related negativity in children and adolescents. Brain and Cognition, 119, 25-31.

Nelson, B. D., Jackson, F., Amir, N., & Hajcak, G. (2017). Attention bias modification reduces neural correlates of response monitoring. Biological Psychology, 129, 103-110.

Parisi, E., Hajcak, G., Aneziris, E., & Nelson, B. D. (2017). Effects of anticipated emotional category and temporal predictability on the startle reflex. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 119, 67-72.

Nelson, B. D., & Hajcak, G. (2017). Defensive motivation and attention in anticipation of different types of predictable and unpredictable aversive stimuli: A startle and event-related potential investigation. Psychophysiology, 54, 1180-1194.

Jackson, F., Nelson, B. D., Meyer, A., & Hajcak, G. (2017). Pubertal development and anxiety risk independently relate to startle habituation during fear conditioning in 8 to 14 year-old females. Developmental Psychobiology, 59, 436-448.

Luking, K. R., Nelson, B. D., Infantolino, Z. P., Sauder, C. L., & Hajcak, G. (2017). Internal consistency of fMRI and EEG measures of reward in late childhood and early adolescence. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 2, 289-297.

Levinson, A. R., Speed, B., Nelson, B. D., Bress, J. N., & Hajcak, G. (2017). Authoritarian parenting predicts reduced electrocortical response to adolescent offspring rewards. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 12, 363-371.

Nelson, B. D., & Hajcak, G. (2017). Anxiety and depression symptom dimensions demonstrate unique associations with the startle reflex in anticipation of unpredictable threat in 8 to 14 year-old girls. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 45, 397-410.

Nelson, B. D., Perlman, G., Klein, D. N., Kotov, R., & Hajcak, G. (2016). Blunted neural response to rewards as a prospective predictor of the development of depression in adolescent girls. American Journal of Psychiatry, 173, 1223-1230.

Gorka, S. M., Nelson, B. D., Phan, K. L., & Shankman, S. A. (2016). Intolerance of uncertainty and insula activation during the anticipation of reward. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 16, 929-939.

Nelson, B. D., Liu, H., Sarapas, C., & Shankman, S. A. (2016). Intolerance of uncertainty mediates the relationship between panic and the startle reflex in anticipation of unpredictable threat. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 7, 172-189.

Speed, B. C., Nelson, B. D., Auerbach, R. P., Klein, D. N., & Hajcak, G. (2016). Depression risk and electrocortical reactivity during self-referential emotional processing in 8 to 14 year-old girls. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125, 607-619.

Nelson, B. D., Kessel, E. M., Jackson, F., & Hajcak, G. (2016). The impact of an unpredictable context and intolerance of uncertainty on the electrocortical response to monetary gains and losses. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 16, 153-163.

Chin, B., Nelson, B. D., Jackson, F., & Hajcak, G. (2016). Intolerance of uncertainty and startle potentiation in relation to different threat reinforcement rates. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 99, 79-84.

Jackson, F., Nelson, B. D., & Hajcak, G. (2016). The uncertainty of errors: Intolerance of uncertainty is associated with error-related brain activity. Biological Psychology, 113, 52-58.

Nelson, B. D., Jackson, F., Amir, N., & Hajcak, G. (2015). Single-session attention bias modification and error-related brain activity. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 15, 776-786.

Nelson, B. D., Perlman, G., Hajcak, G., Klein, D. N., & Kotov, R. (2015). Familial risk for distress and fear disorders and emotional reactivity in adolescence: An event-related potential investigation. Psychological Medicine, 45, 2545-2556.

Nelson, B. D., Hodges, A., Hajcak, G., & Shankman, S. A. (2015). Anxiety sensitivity and the anticipation of predictable and unpredictable threat: Evidence from the startle response and event-related potentials. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 33, 62-71.

Nelson, B. D., Hajcak, G., & Shankman, S. A. (2015). Event-related potentials to acoustic startle probes during the anticipation of predictable and unpredictable threat. Psychophysiology, 52, 887-894.

Speed, B. C., Nelson, B. D., Perlman, G., Klein, D. N., Kotov, R., & Hajcak, G. (2015). Personality and emotional processing: A relationship between extraversion and the late positive potential in adolescence. Psychophysiology, 52, 1039-1047.

Jackson, F., Nelson, B. D., & Proudfit, G. H. (2015). In an uncertain world, errors are more aversive: Evidence from the ERN. Emotion, 15, 12-16.

Gorka, S. M., Nelson, B. D., Phan, K. L., & Shankman, S. A. (2014). Insula response to unpredictable and predictable threat in individuals with panic disorder and comorbid depression. Biology of Mood and Anxiety Disorders, 4, 1-6.

Nelson, B. D., Bishop, J. R., Sarapas, C., Kittles, R. A., & Shankman, S. A. (2014). Asians demonstrate reduced sensitivity to unpredictable threat: A preliminary startle investigation using genetic ancestry in a multiethnic population. Emotion, 14, 615-623.

Nelson, B. D., Shankman, S. A, & Proudfit, G. H. (2014). Intolerance of uncertainty mediates reduced reward anticipation in major depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 158, 108-113. 

Nelson, B. D., McGowan, S. K., Sarapas, C., Robison-Andrew, E. J., Altman, S. E., Campbell, M. L., … Shankman, S. A. (2013). Biomarkers of threat and reward sensitivity demonstrate unique associations with risk for psychopathology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122, 662-671.

Gorka, S. M., Nelson, B. D., & Shankman, S. A. (2013). Startle response to unpredictable threat in comorbid panic disorder and alcohol dependence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 132, 216-222.

Shankman, S. A., Nelson, B. D., Sarapas, C., Robison-Andrews, E. J., Campbell, M. L., Altman, S. E., … Gorka, S. M. (2013). A psychophysiological investigation of threat and reward sensitivity in individuals with panic disorder and/or major depressive disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122, 322-338.

Gorka, S. M., Nelson, B. D., Sarapas, C., Campbell, M. L., Lewis, G. F., Bishop, J. R., Porges, S. W., & Shankman, S. A. (2013). Relation between respiratory sinus arrhythmia and startle response during predictable and unpredictable threat. Journal of Psychophysiology, 27, 95-104.

Nelson, B. D., Sarapas, C., Robison-Andrew, E. J., Altman, S. E., Campbell, M. C., & Shankman, S. A. (2012). Frontal brain asymmetry in depression with comorbid anxiety: A neuropsychological investigation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121, 579-591. 

Nelson, B. D. & Shankman, S. A. (2011). Does intolerance of uncertainty predict anticipatory startle responses to uncertain threat? International Journal of Psychophysiology, 81, 107-115.

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