A taskforce model is being_employed
to bring together scientists from many countries

A large taskforce of researchers from various sub-disciplines within the fields of affective research and neuroscience is now being assembled_to take up this challenge (the teams being assembled are shown below). This project is a 2-3 year initiative that should be completed in 2018. It will involve an initial workshop that will take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (4th-5th August of 2016) where participants will explore and revise the initial framework and then engage in the production of a series of articles that will be prepared for a planned special issue in Elsevier's Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews (Impact Factor 8.8). The task force will also produce a fully integrated capstone article that will pull these pieces together, with the goal of producing a landmark publication that will shape the future of the field.

Although this is an ambitious project, the distribution of work that occurs in this distributed model ensures that the project can sit easily alongside existing research that is being undertaken in most labs. Contributing authors are encouraged to engage junior researchers (e.g., PhD students and post-doctoral students) in the team reviews. The nature of these reviews will present great learning opportunities and contributing authorships for junior researchers who participate.

The twelve reviews are all focused on important areas that are described within a preliminary taxonomy. The goal of this project will be for each team to produce a detailed description of the domains that are encompassed by each of the elements of the framework, and then to test the framework against the existing peer-reviewed literature. The challenge for each of these teams will be to try to produce a compact synthesis of the literature while clarifying the nature of any important relationships that are described in the preliminary framework that is developed.

Project Team Leaders


Justin H G Williams, MRCPsych, MD - Senior Lecturer in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Aberdeen, Dr Williams commenced his scientific career studying ecology and evolutionary biology before returning to clinical practice to pursue training in psychiatry. He then specialized in Child Psychiatry and moved to Dundee where he collaborated with Andrew Whiten and David Perrett from the University of St. Andrews on the "mirror neuron" theory of autism, which has driven much of his research agenda thereafter. In 2000 he took up the post of Senior Lecturer in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Aberdeen, where his focus remains the neural basis for social learning, particularly in relation to imitation and autism. Recently, he has begun to investigate the imitation of emotional expressions and the relationship of this ability to empathy. Dr Williams also serves as Consultant in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital.

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Nelly Alia-Klein, PhD - Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and co-chief of Neuropsychoimaging of Addiction and Related Conditions (NARC) research group, at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Dr. Alia-Klein and her laboratory are focusing on self-regulation in humans with Intermittent Explosive Disorder and drug addiction. An ongoing research effort in the lab is to characterize neural circuits of anger and anger control as well as bridging past work from animal research toward human focus on top-down mechanisms involving the prefrontal cortex in understanding anger as a unitary emotion

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Florin Dolcos, PhD - Director of the Social, Cognitive, Personality, and Emotional (SCoPE) Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr Dolcos' lab focuses on the neural mechanisms underlying emotion- cognition Interactions. Emotion can impact cognition by exerting both enhancing effects (e.g., better memory for emotional events) and impairing effects (e.g., increased emotional distractibility). Emotion processing, however, is also susceptible to cognitive influences, typically exerted as cognitive control of emotion or emotion regulation. Investigation of the mechanisms underlying these phenomena is critical for understanding mood and anxiety disorders that are associated with intrusive recollection of memories for distressing events and increased emotional distractibility, and are characterized by emotion dysregulation. The tendency to ruminate on negative emotions and memories observed in depressed patients, for instance, or increased emotional sensitivity observed in patients suffering from anxiety disorders affect tremendously the way these patients think and behave. Therefore, it has become apparent that findings treatment and cures for these disorders depend on integrative understanding the mechanisms that are responsible for such dramatic changes in the ways emotion interfaces with cognition, leading to dysfunctional emotion-cognition interactions.

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Jacob Raber, PhD - Professor, Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health & Science University. Dr Raber's lab focuses on effects of genetic and environmental factors on brain structure and function in animal models of human neurological diseases. This research is then used to develop tests and treatment strategies to improve brain function in humans suffering from various neurological conditions. Amongst other things, his lab is interested in measures of anxiety and fear learning and memory. Using a cross-species and translational approach, his team uses a combination of behavioral and molecular approaches to identify biomarkers and mechanisms pertinent to susceptibility to develop and treat behavioral and cognitive changes.

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Rebecca Levin Silton, PhD - Assistant Professor, Clinical Psychology in the Department of Psychology at Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Silton's primary research interests are (1) To identify basic neural mechanisms in the interaction of positive affect and cognitive function, (2) to understand disorders primarily characterized by low positive affect such as depression, postpartum depression, and chronic pain disorders using basic neuroscience methods, and (3) to advance neuroscience-informed interventions that target modifiable brain structures that implement affect in order to promote physical well-being and psychological vitality.

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Susanne Becker, PhD - Assistant professor and head of the research group "Psychobiology of Pain" at the Department for Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, Central Institute of Mental Health (Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany). She investigates the psychobiological mechanisms underlying the interaction of pain and reward as two fundamental motivators that determine our perception and behavior. Goals of her work are to characterize neuroanatomical and neurochemical mechanisms of the perceptual effects of reward on pain and to identify pathogenetic relevant alterations of theses processes in chronic pain. Susanne applies a multimodal approach incorporating psychophysical and neuropsychological methods as well as neuroimaging and pharmacological interventions.

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Advaith Siddharthan, PhD - Senior lecturer in Computing Science at The University of Aberdeen, UK. Dr Siddharthan is a Computational Linguistics expert, and his research focus is on personalising information to user chracteristics by exploiting results in Linguistics and Computer Science. His recent research covers information extraction, news summarization, text simplification, natural language generation, computational creativity and affective computing.

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Howard Casey Cromwell, PhD - Director of the Biology of Affect and Motivation laboratory at BGSU and is a member of the JP Scott Center for Neuroscience, Mind and Behavior. His research interests revolve around motivation and the brain basis of goal-directed action. His studies include the neuroscience of relative reward encoding that involve how neural activity encodes relative reward information to produce effective goal-directed behavior. Relative reward effects explored include incentive contrast effects, variety effects and induction between different outcomes including food and social rewards. He has been involved in work on emotional and motivation systems interactions using animal models and the measurement of affect during motivated action. The brain system of primary research interest includes the basal ganglia and nucleus accumbens with its interactions among a wide set of cortical and subcortical regions.

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Edward Franz Pace-Schott, PhD - Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and Associate Researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr Pace-Schott is interested in how sleep helps humans regulate their emotions. Regulation of negative emotions can take place via uniquely human cognitive strategies such as reappraising the meaning of upsetting events or generating anticipatory protective beliefs. However evolutionarily ancient learning processes also contribute to human emotion regulation. These include extinction--learning that a once feared object or event is no longer dangerous--habituation whereby we become less reactive to frequently encountered stimuli as well as fear learning and sensitization. His research strives to identify the effects of sleep on these elemental forms of emotional memory. Extinction and habituation are key components of a first-line treatment for anxiety disorders, exposure therapy, a process whereby therapeutically introduced extinction and habituation memories aid in overcoming debilitating fears. Many recent studies have also shown that sleep plays an important role in the consolidation of emotional memory Dr Pace-Schott's work has shown that sleep enhances generalization of extinction memory, promotes psychophysiological habituation to repeatedly encountered negative stimuli, enhances extinction memory and generalization following simulated exposure therapy and that extinction learning and recall vary with time of day and chronotype. His current projects include functional neuroimaging of fear conditioning and extinction in insomnia and the use of sleep as a therapeutic adjunct in exposure therapy for social anxiety disorder

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Elka Stefanova, PhD - Head of the Memory clinic in the Department of Neurology within the Medical Faculty at the University of Belgrade, as well as consultant neuropsychiatrist and professor of Neurology. Dr Stefanova did postdoctoral research in the Department of Experimental psychology at Downing College, Cambridge and in the NEUROTEC department at the Karolinska Institute. Now her research is mainly focused on cognitive and behavioural changes in neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease and Fronto-temporal dementia, with focus on executive functioning, and planning.

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Andrew Kemp, PhD - Associate Professor of Psychology at Swansea University. Dr Kemp's research spans affective neuroscience through to epidemiology, bridging the gap between biological mechanism and long term public health. His program of research aims to better understand the relationship between mental and physical wellbeing, and involves a multi-pronged research strategy including focused hypothesis driven experimentation, meta-analysis and epidemiological study. His work makes use of a variety of techniques including EEG, ERP, ECG, fMRI and genetics, and involves studies on healthy participants and individuals with mood and anxiety disorders. Major programs of research include 1) the neuropsychobiological correlates and impacts of treatments (e.g. antidepressants, oxytocin) on emotion processing and its regulation, 2) mechanisms underpinning the link between emotion, physical health and longevity, and 3) the prediction of treatment response in the mood and anxiety disorders

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Paul Frewen, PhD - Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Western Ontario. Dr Frewen's lab aims to advance our understanding of human self-regulation in the context of stress and trauma from the theoretical and methodological vantages of clinical psychology and cognitive-affective neuroscience. Methods include clinical, phenomenological, psychometric, cognitive psychology, computational (neural-network) modeling, psychophysiology, and neuroimaging. The goal of his team's work is to yield understanding of how to help better the quality of life of youth and adults living with stress and trauma-related psychological problems. Dr Frewen is currently the Chair of the Traumatic Stress Section of the Canadian Psychological Association, Chair of the Practice Committee of the Psychological Trauma Section of the American Psychological Association, and a practicing clinical psychologist in London, Ontario, Canada.

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Paul J Eslinger, PhD - Professor of Neurology, Neural and Behavioral sciences, Radiology, Pediatrics, and Public Health Sciences at the Penn State University Hershey Neuroscience Institute and College of Medicine. Dr Eslinger's research projects have focused on delineating the neural structures and networks mediating social cognition, social emotions and executive functions. Studies have focused mainly on typically developing children and adults with functional brain imaging methods as well as those who have suffered structural damage to frontal and limbic system regions of the brain from concussion, degenerative disease and other pathology. These networks regulate much of the neurobiological substrate for social cognition and social emotions. His clinical studies have revealed that damage or dysfunction in these brain regions in childhood causes lifelong social and behavioral impairments unrelated to general intelligence. A second wave of maturational challenge occurs in adolescence when neuroplasticity processes critically influence sociomoral skills and sentiments such as theory of mind, empathy, guilt, and gratitude. Dr. Eslinger directs the Memory and Cognition Clinic where medical students, residents, physicians and psychologists train in dementia, brain injury and related diseases affecting social executive functions, and mentors graduate students in the neuroscience program. He is the editor of the journal Social Neuroscience.

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