Justin Anker PhD

Medical School
Twin Cities
Project Title: 
Psychophysiological Stress Reactivity as a Determinant in Co-occurring Alcohol Use and Anxiety Disorder: Diagnosis and Alcohol Use Outcomes

Comorbid Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) + Anxiety Disorder (AnxD) is a significant barrier to successful AUD treatment. Converging evidence implicates overlap in dysregulation of systems governing stress response (HPA,ANS, CNS) for symptom development in AUD and AnxD. However, this must be systematically demonstrated in comorbid AUD+AnxD. 

These researchers will assess markers of multi-system biological stress regulation (at rest and in response to laboratory challenge) in AUD inpatients with and without co-occurring AnxD, as well as those with AnxD who do versus do not receive a cognitive behavioral treatment that specifically targets comorbid AUD-AnxD. The following will be assessed at rest and in response to a laboratory stress challenge: central nervous system [CNS] function; autonomic nervous system [ANS] function; and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis system [HPA] function. Laboratory assessments will occur at the following six time points: shortly after AUD treatment admittance (Visit 2: Pre-Treatment); immediately following the 4-week AUD treatment (Visit 3: Post-Treatment); one month following AUD treatment (Visit 4: 1-Month Follow-Up); four months following AUD treatment (Visit 5: 4-Month Follow-Up); and eight months following AUD treatment (Visit 6: 8-Month Follow-Up). Self-reported alcohol intake will be assessed at baseline as well as at the 1-Month, 4-Month, and 8-Month Follow-Ups to determine whether laboratory stress measures predict treatment outcomes. A single laboratory assessment of healthy controls will serve as a normative reference forcharacterizing patient laboratory responses in terms of dysregulation and re-regulation. Primary laboratory measures include EEG, EMG, EKG, skin conductance, and cortisol assessment.

Project Investigators

Justin Anker PhD
Scott Burwell
Nikki Degeneffe
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