Completed Research

Panic Disorder and Nicotine Withdrawal

(University of Vermont; PI: Teresa Leyro, Ph.D.; Mentor: Michael Zvolensky, Ph.D.): This NIDA funded project (NRSA: 1F31 DA024919-01) examined the interaction between PD status and nicotine withdrawal severity in affective and physiological response to, and recovery from, a carbon-dioxide challenge (four minutes of 10% CO2-enriched air). We found evidence that PD and nicotine withdrawal independently and interactively predict physiological panic responsivity, and recovery to a CO2 challenge, as indexed by tidal levels of expired CO2 (ETCO2). In addition, we found that smokers experiencing more nicotine withdrawal reported greater emotional distress in response to the challenge; however, during recovery from the challenge, those with PD, regardless of nicotine withdrawal severity, reported a faster reduction in anxiety. 

Emotion Dysregulation, Anxiety Control, and Menstrual Cycle Phase
(Rutgers University, University of Vermont, VA Boston Healthcare System; PI: Sanjana Manikandan [honors thesis]; Advisors: Teresa Leyro, Ph.D.)  This senior honors project examined the moderating effect of menstrual cycle phase on the relation between emotion dysregulation and menstrual symptoms and perceived control over anxiety-related events. We found that women high in emotion dysregulation experience greater symptom severity in the luteal phase and percieve themselves as having less control over their anxiety as compared to women that are low in emotion dysregulation or women in the follicular phase.

Ongoing Research

Distress Tolerance and Psychosocial Functioning

(Rutgers University; PI: Teresa Leyro, Ph.D.). This investigation has several goals: (1) Replication and extension of research suggesting DT is related to psychopathological dimensions. Via the utilization of self-report and behavioral indices of DT we will identify which indices offer the best clinical utility in relation to dimensional indices of psychopathological functioning; (2) In an effort to clarify observed discordance between DT indices, we will examine whether an indirect index of emotional clarity moderates the relation between self-report and behavioral indices; (3) Finally, we are interested in identifying physiological parameters that may be related to DT. To this end, we will measure both vagal tone, at resting, and vagal flexibility, during an attention-demanding task, via respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), in a subsample of participants.  Data collection to begin in the Spring of 2015.

Clarifying the Role of Distress Tolerance and Smoking Cessation Processes

(University of California, San Francisco; PI: Teresa Leyro, Ph.D.; Mentors: Sharon M. Hall, Ph.D. and Judith J. Prochaska, Ph.D.): This project was funded by a center grant (P50-DA09253) pilot study fund. The goal was to clarify the predictive utility of a comprehensive battery of self-report and behavioral indices of distress tolerance (DT) in terms of quit day nicotine withdrawal, urge to smoke and craving for cigarette, as well as quit day success. In addition, we explored the relevance of pre to post-quit day changes in stress-relevant hormones (e.g., cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone) in terms of these outcomes. After baseline assessment, participants were instructed to make a self-quit attempt and returned to the lab 24 hours into their attempt so that we could assess outcomes of interest. Data collection is continuing at Rutgers University.

Regulation of Emotional Processes

(University of California, San Francisco; PI: Wendy Mendes, Ph.D.; Co-Is: Teresa Leyro, Ph.D. and Renee Thompson, Ph.D.). This project seeks to examine differences in emotion regulation processes as indexed via affect, physiology, and unconscious processes, among healthy women in the context of the Trier Social Stress Task (TSST). In addition, participants were randomized to receive either neutral/negative, or positive feedback during the (TSST) in an effort to manipulate challenge and threat responding. Analyses are ongoing.

Distress Tolerance and Inpatient Smokers

(University of California, San Francisco: PI: Teresa Leyro, Ph.D.; Advisor: Judith J. Prochaska, Ph.D.). The goal of this investigation is to (1) examine the validity of a composite index of DT in an inpatient psychiatric sample of daily smokers; and (2) examine its relation to psychosocial parameters (e.g., cigarettes smoked daily, nicotine dependence, psychological functioning). Analyses are ongoing.

Future Research

Exploring E-cigarette Use in Young Adults: Motives, Co-use, and Risk

(Rutgers University; PI: Teresa Leyro, Ph.D.). In this study we will examine the (1) prevalence of ever and current e-cigarette use in a college aged sample. In addition, (2) we will explore motives for use, use expectancies, and co-use with other substances (e.g., cannabis and alcohol). Finally, (3) we will explore whether use is related to a range of demographic as well as cognitive-affective risk factors (e.g., distress tolerance). Data collection to begin in the Fall of 2015.