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Mariann Weierich

Associate Professor
 
Department :
Psychology
Membership :
Full Member
Core Research :
Neuro/Behavioral Science
Office :
Room 627B North
Email :
Office Phone :
(212) 396-6375
Education :
  • B.A., University of Notre Dame, 1998
  • M.S., Yale University, 2001
  • M.Phill., Yale University, 2003
  • PhD., Yale University, 2005
Research Interest :

Our research focuses on how the brain and the visual system process affective information, and how these processes contribute to anxiety states and disorders. In healthy people, the brain and the visual system prioritize negative information over positive or neutral information, physiologically arousing over non-arousing information, and novel over familiar information. These tendencies are present in most people, and they allow people to prioritize objects or locations that might have an immediate influence on their wellbeing. However, when the mechanisms of processing in the brain and the visual system are over-active or under-active, people can experience problems. At the extremes, anxiety states and disorders (including posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD) are characterized by maladaptive neural and behavioral processing of affect. To date, most research in anxiety disorders has been descriptive, and we are only just beginning to examine the mechanisms that drive the onset and maintenance of symptoms over time. A clearer understanding of these mechanisms will help to more efficiently tailor treatments to specific symptom presentations.

In our lab we use a variety of methods, including computerized experimental tasks modified from vision science, eye-tracking, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to investigate the mechanisms underlying both normative and maladaptive affective processing. More specifically, we are pursuing three related lines of research. First, we translate behavioral paradigms developed by vision scientists to investigate the role of visual attentional processing in anxiety states and anxiety disorders. Second, we investigate the phenomenology of post-traumatic stress, with particular emphasis on the re-experiencing and hyperarousal symptoms. Third, we use fMRI to examine the neural substrates of affective processing in healthy people and people with anxiety disorders. We are working to integrate these lines into a program of research wherein we can utilize behavioral paradigms and fMRI to examine the mechanisms of pathological affective processing in anxiety disorders and PTSD.

Selected Publications :
  • Glassman, L.H., Weierich, M.R., Hooley, J.M., Deliberto, T.L., & Nock, M.K. (2007). Child maltreatment, non-suicidal self-injury, and the mediating role of self-criticism. Behaviour Research and Therapy 45, 2483-24
  • Weierich, M.R., & Nock, M.K. (2008). Posttraumatic stress symptoms mediate the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and non-suicidal self-injury. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology,76,39-44.
  • Weierich, M.R., Treat, T.A., & Hollingworth, A. (2008). Theories and measurement of visual attentional processing in anxiety. Cognition and Emotion, 22, 985-1018.
  • Wolf, E.J., Miller, M.W., Orazem, R.J., Weierich, M.R., Castillo, D.T., Milford, J., Kaloupek, D.G., & Keane, T.M. (2008). The MMPI-2 Restructured Clinical Scales in the assessment of posttraumatic stress disorder and comorbid disorders. Psychological Assessment.20(4):327-40. doi: 10.1037/a0012948.
  • Weierich, M.R., Kensinger, E.A., Munnell, A., Sass, S., & Barrett, L.F. (2011). Older and Wiser? An affective science perspective on retirement decisions. Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, 6, 195-206
  • Gutner, C.A., Pineles, S.L., Weierich, M.R., Resick, P.A., & Griffin, M.G. Psychophysiological predictors of PTSD in female crime victims. Manuscript under review.
  • Wolf, E.J., Miller, M.W., Orazem, R.J., Weierich, M.R., Castillo, D.T., Milford, J., Kaloupek, D.G., & Keane, T.M. (2008). The MMPI?2 Restructured Clinical Scales in the assessment of posttraumatic stress disorder and comorbid disorders. Psychological Assessment, 20, 327‐340.