Karolinska Institutet Psychology Speaker Series: Michelle G. Craske

The KI Psychology Speaker Series at Nobel Forum features some of the most influential researchers of today in the realms of mind, brain and behavior. The speaker series is hosted by the Division of Psychology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet.

The event features a pre-recorded talk followed by a live Q&A with Michelle G. Craske.

Time: December 14, 16:00


Watch the lecture

Reward sensitivity as a treatment target for depression and anxiety

Threat and reward sensitivity are fundamental processes that become dysregulated in the context of vulnerability to, or expression of, anxiety and depression. Treatments have traditionally targeted reductions in threat sensitivity with limited effects upon reward mechanisms. Investigation of reward sensitivity is essential for our understanding of psychopathology and for targeted treatment approaches. I will present two related lines of my research on this topic.  First, I will present our latest findings regarding neural, behavioral and subjective features of reward hyposensitivity (specifically in domains of reward anticipation-motivation, response to reward attainment, and reward learning) that correlate with and predict anxiety, depression and anhedonia. These findings led us to develop a treatment that specifically targets reward hyposensitivity, termed Positive Affect Treatment, which we have shown to be more effective than standard cognitive behavioral therapy for anxious and depressed individuals. I will present our most recent replication study in anxious, depressed and extremely low positive affect individuals, where the symptomatic outcomes occur in parallel with changes in target measures of reward anticipation-motivation and attainment to a greater degree than occurs with standard cognitive behavioral therapy. I will also present findings from virtual reality technologies for delivering aspects of Positive Affect Treatment. Second, building upon the work of others who have demonstrated the role of reward-related relief mechanisms in extinction learning, I will present our latest evidence regarding neural, behavioral and subjective correlates of anhedonia in the context of fear conditioning and related paradigms. Further, I will present evidence for anhedonia to interfere with exposure therapy (as a clinical proxy of extinction). I will conclude with a treatment model that incorporates reward targets to augment inhibitory retrieval models of exposure and our latest findings with neuro-reinforcement for “unconscious exposure”.

Michelle G. Craske

Michelle G. Craske, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology, and of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Kevin Love Fund Centennial Chair, Director of the Anxiety and Depression Research Center, and Associate Director of the Staglin Family Music Center for Behavioral and Brain Health, at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is also co-director of the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge. 

She has been the recipient of extramural funding since 1993 for research projects pertaining to risk factors for anxiety and depression among children and adolescents, neural mediators of emotion regulation and behavioral treatments for anxiety disorders, fear extinction translational models for optimizing exposure therapy, novel behavioral therapies targeting reward sensitivity and anhedonia, and scalable treatment models for underserved

Previous speakers at The KI Psychology Speaker Series at Nobel Forum - 

Frans de Waal, Professor Emeritus, Emory University and Utrecht University

May-Britt Moser, Professor, Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, Trondheim, Norway

Daniel Kahneman, Professor, Psychology and Public Affairs Emeritus at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

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