Basic Research on Mania
People with bipolar disorder describe themselves as more reactive to rewards and goals in their life, and more prone to positive moods, even when they are asymptomatic. More importantly, these basic traits help understand the processes through which mania unfolds. We find that the level of reward sensitivity, as well as recent increases in goal engagement, both predict increases in mania over time among people with bipolar disorder. We have also found that life involving goal attainment predict increases in mania. Currently, we are conducting studies to understand the greater reactivity to success in this population, using paradigms drawn from neuroimaging, emotion, information-processing, and impulsivity literatures. We are also considering other psychological traits that might relate to outcomes in bipolar disorder, including stress reactivity, emotion regulation, and social dominance.
Transdiagnostic Research on Serotonin and Emotion Regulation
Serotonergic deficits are associated with many different psychological disorders, including depression, mania, anxiety disorders, alcohol abuse, and suicidality. I am interested in the psychological processes that could help link serotonin with these diverse outcomes. New research is focused on how genetic polymorphisms in serotonin relate to laboratory and self-report measures of emotion-relevant forms of impulsivity.
I seek graduate students who will extend the work of the team into new areas within bipolar disorder or emotion-related impulsivity.
Selected publications on serotonin:
Carver, C. S., Johnson, S. L., & Joormann, J. (2008). Serotonergic Function, Two-Mode Models of Self-Regulation, and Vulnerability to Depression: What Depression Has In Common with Impulsive Aggression. Psychological Bulletin, 134(6):912-43.
Carver, C. S., Johnson, S. L., Joorman, J., Kim, Y., & Nam, J. (2011). Serotonin transporter polymorphism interacts with childhood adversity to predict aspects of impulsivity. Psychological Science, 22(5),589-595.
Selected publications relevant to mania:
Johnson, S.L., Edge, M. D., Holmes, M. K., & Carver, C. S. (2012). The Behavioral Activation System and mania. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology,8,243-267, DOI: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032511-143148.
Johnson, S. L., Cuellar, A., Ruggero, C., Perlman, C., Goodnick, P., White, R., & Miller, I. (2008). Life events as predictors of mania and depression in bipolar I disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117, 268-277.