Seminar | Use of Human Laboratory Models to Learn about Etiology and New Interventions for Addictive Behaviors

Close-up of person's hands, one holding wine glass and other holding smartphone with tracking app open
Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 2:30pm to 3:30pm
521B Tobin Hall | UMass Amherst

Alcohol and tobacco use pose significant threats to public health.  Dr. Robert Leeman (University of Florida) will provide an overview of human laboratory methods including alcohol and nicotine administration. Human laboratory methods provide investigators with a great deal of experimental control. These methods can be used to learn more about the etiology of addictive behaviors (e.g., nicotine and alcohol misuse) and to test new interventions to ameliorate these behaviors.

Dr. Leeman will provide examples from research relating impulsivity (i.e., a tendency toward rapid or immediate action with diminished regard for future consequences) to subjective response (i.e., elevated rewarding stimulant effects and dampened aversive sedative effects) to alcohol. This line of research attempts to account for impulsivity as a heterogeneous construct that has complex causal and sequenced associations with addictive behaviors. Dr. Leeman will also present on recent research testing new, technology-based interventions for heavy drinking young adults using human laboratory methods.

This event is supported by the ISSR Scholars Program, promoting successful research and grants development for social science faculty across UMass Amherst. Dr. Leeman visits UMass to collaborate with ISSR Scholar Allecia Reid. His public talk is co-sponsored with the College of Natural Sciences Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Registration requested. Refreshments will be provided.

Robert Leeman, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Mary F. Lane Endowed Professor in the Department of Health Education and Behavior at the University of Florida and Adjunct Faculty in  Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Clark University, followed by an M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. After his Ph.D., Dr. Leeman spent a decade at Yale, first as a post-doctoral fellow, then as a faculty member. During his time at Yale, he also spent three years as a research scientist with the VA MIRECC in West Haven, CT before joining the faculty at UF.  

His primary research interest is in relationships between various difficulties with self-control and addictive behaviors, particularly alcohol use, though he also has also conducted research on opioid misuse, tobacco use and gambling. He has particular interests in impaired control over alcohol use (i.e., difficulty adhering to limits on use), disinhibition/impulsivity and cognitive biases. Using human laboratory, survey and randomized controlled trial methods, Dr. Leeman tests novel interventions and attempts to learn more about risk factors for substance misuse, particularly in adolescent and young adult populations. In his recent research, these novel interventions have been primarily technology-based including web-based interventions, devices and smartphone applications.