Hadeel Barrawi

Year: Junior

Major(s):  Biology, Psychology

Mentor: Silton, Rebecca

Department: Psychology

Project Title: Cognitive and Neural Mechanisms associated with Coping in Depression and Resilience

Project Abstract: Depression is a pervasive disorder that is chronic and debilitating having negative outcomes in various domains, including performance in academics and employment, interpersonal relationships, and overall quality of life (Rapaport, Clary, Fayyad, & Endicott, 2005). The national cost of depression (in medical expenses and lost productivity) has been estimated to be $83 billion per year (Greenberg et al., 2003). Research has shown that an inflexible coping style, particularly rigid avoidance, is a strong predictor of the development and exacerbation of depressive symptoms, as well as resistance to treatment (Cronkite et al., 1998; Klein, 2008). In order to improve treatment strategies to target potential factors that predict depressive symptomatology, we must first understand the mechanisms through which these symptoms arise and persist. A large body of literature has shown that executive functions (i.e., set-shifting, planning, problem solving, inhibition) are impaired in depression, and this project proposes that executive dysfunction contributes to ineffective coping strategies in individuals with depression. Frontocinguate abnormalities are also related to differences in executive function abilities in individuals with depression (Silton et al., 2011). The proposed project seeks to identify cognitive and neural correlates of healthy and maladaptive coping strategies in individuals at-risk for depression, in order to improve prevention and treatment strategies.