Neuroimaging Mechanisms of Change in Psychotherapy for Addictive Behaviors

Research on mechanisms of behavior change (MOBC) provides an innovative method to improve treatment for addictive behaviors. An important extension of MOBC research involves the use of translational approaches, which examine how basic biological (i.e., brain-based mechanisms) and behavioral factors interact in initiating and sustaining positive behavior change as a result of psychotherapy. This R13 application proposes an annual conference, to be held in conjunction with the Research Society on Alcoholism meeting (RSA), on the topic of "Neuroimaging mechanisms of change in psychotherapy for addictive behaviors." Conference objectives are to (1) foster cross-disciplinary collaboration among researchers in the fields of psychotherapy and neuroscience, particularly neuroimaging, to address brain-based mechanisms of change in alcohol treatment; and (2) cover conceptual, methodological, and clinical issues relevant to the use of neuroimaging in MOBC research from clinical and neuroscience perspectives in order to build a common foundation for effective collaboration. These objectives are closely aligned with NIH and NIAAA strategic plans to support transformative translational research on the science of behavior change. We propose 3 annual conferences, each 1.5 days in duration. Each conference would include a full day focused on translational research concepts and methods, followed by a half-day held in conjunction with the on-going pre-RSA MOBC satellite, which would focus on clinical issues and real-world applications relevant to translational research efforts. The multi-year conference will cover a sequenced series of foundational topics to facilitate collaboration among clinicians and neuroscientists, and will build momentum toward sustained collaboration on MOBC research among conference participants. In Year 1, presentations would cover, for example, key concepts and methods in translational research study design. Year 2 would cover more advanced topics, such as methods for analysis of brain circuits in relation to understanding treatment response and identifying potential treatment targets. Year 3 would focus on presenting empirical findings, including discussion of "real-world" experiences in conducting translational research, and potential applications of translational research findings to clinical practice. The proposed multi-year conference aims to advance translational research on MOBC, which holds promise for understanding of how psychotherapy can modify brain structure and functioning and facilitate the initiation and maintenance of positive behavioral change.