National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institutes of Health
"Behavioral Therapy Development and Psychological
Science: Part II"
September 18-19, 1997
Lisa Simon Onken, Ph.D.
The workshop, "Behavioral Therapy Development and Psychological
Science: Part II," was held on September 18 and 19. The purpose of
the workshop was to enrich NIDA's behavioral therapy development efforts
by strengthening the connection between behavioral therapy development and
more basic behavioral science. Six behavioral scientists were asked to
present their research. Each presentation was followed by a discussion
of how the research might be applicable to behavioral therapy. These discussions
were led by behavioral therapy researchers. The following research was
presented and discussed:
- Ian Gotlib presented his work on information-processing approaches
to the study of depression, and on the implications of this work for understanding
vulnerability and relapse. He discussed the body of evidence suggesting
that depressed individuals have an information-processing style that tends
to favor emotionally negative information, particularly with regard to
memory. That is, depressed individuals appear to have a bias to remember
negative information. In addition, Dr. Gotlib presented data suggesting
that previously dysphoric individuals, compared to never dysphoric
people, also share this bias of a facilitated memory of negative stimuli.
He suggested that the information processing style of depressed, dysphoric,
and previously dysphoric individuals may play a role in their future vulnerability
to depression. Neil Jacobson led a discussion of Dr. Gotlib's work.
- Jill Hooley gave the second presentation. Her talk focused on family
factors in the course of major mental illness. Specifically, Dr. Hooley
focused on the relationship of "expressed emotion" in the family
to the long-term functioning of individuals with major mental disorders.
The construct of expressed emotion involves high levels of criticism,
hostility, and emotional over involvement. Dr. Hooley pointed out that
psychiatric patients who return from the hospital to families high in expressed
emotion are significantly more likely to relapse than those who return
to families low in expressed emotion. Dr. Sam Turner led the discussion
on the implications of the research on expressed emotion to behavioral
- Peter Lang's talk focused on emotion, the startle response, and pathological
anxiety. He discussed research showing that, among anxiety disordered
individuals, the greater the level of psychopathology (e.g., PTSD and
panic disorder with agoraphobia), the larger the basal startle response.
Those individuals with less severe anxiety disorders (e.g., simple phobia
or social phobia) showed more cue-specific startle potentiation. Edna
Foa discussed how Peter Lang's research has been incorporated into her
own research on the development of behavioral therapies for obsessive compulsive
disorder and PTSD. She also commented upon how Dr. Lang's more recent
finding may impact upon the development of behavioral therapies.
- Elizabeth Loftus presented her research on memory and imagination.
She discussed the processes by which individuals may be led to remember
events that never occurred, and she also discussed research suggesting
that the process of imagination may increase people's tendency to believe
events actually happened. Tim Strauman led the discussion on her presentation,
and placed some of her findings within the context of the social psychology
literature. The group discussed the possibilities of her research for
the development of novel behavioral therapies.
- Michael Dougher discussed stimulus classes, categories, and the untrained
transformation of functions. He delineated the processes by which stimulus
relations are formed. That is, the ways in which they are acquired and
in which generalizations to other stimuli are formed. William Follette
discussed Dr. Dougher's data, and the clinical relevance of the conclusion
that it is easy to acquire connections, but difficult to lose them. The
group explored the possibilities for Dr. Dougher's research to impact upon
the development or refinement of behavioral interventions.
- Warren Bickel presented research on the behavioral economics of drug
dependence. He showed that drug taking behavior is a function of both
cost and available alternatives. Alan Marlatt discussed the obvious relevance
of Dr. Bickel's work to behavioral therapy development, and indeed, many
existing behavioral economic principles have already been incorporated
into existing behavioral therapies for drug addicts. Further relevance
to behavioral therapy research was explored.
- Ken Howard led the general discussion. The issue of barriers to the
collaboration of basic behavioral scientists with behavioral therapy researchers
was raised. Support was voiced for NIDA's existing Behavioral Therapies
Development Program. NIDA was encouraged to continue the funding of Stage
1 research, with an emphasis on linkage to basic psychological science.
- Edit the papers presented at this meeting for publication in the journal
Behavior Therapy. The papers from the prior workshop were published
in Psychological Science, in an attempt to reach many basic behavioral
scientists and to encourage their collaboration with behavioral therapy
researchers. Publication in Behavior Therapy will help to reach
clinicians and clinical scientists with a similar message- encouraging
the collaboration of behavior therapy researchers with basic behavioral
scientists when developing new therapies.
- Encourage new Stage 1 proposals to link therapy development with basic
behavioral science. Because of the barriers inherent in integrating basic
behavioral research findings into behavioral therapy development research,
consider releasing an RFA to stimulate innovative therapy development efforts,
as encouraged by the Treatment Initiative Council Subcommittee.
- Begin planning the third of three meetings linking behavioral therapy
development and basic behavioral science. This will help to reinforce
the message that the linkage of behavioral therapy development to basic
behavioral science is of continuing interest to NIDA.