Research Expertise and Interest
bipolar disorder, impulsivity, suicidality
Sheri Johnson is a professor in the Department of Psychology. One line of her work focuses on ubipolar disorder. Her research group has found strong parallels between the triggers and phenomenology of unipolar and bipolar depression. They also have found that bipolar disorder is related to elevations in reward sensitivity, or the tendency to be overly reactive to rewards. Reward sensitivity predicts increases in mania, as do life events involving reward. They are currently conducting a large-scale, international study to examine how healthy eating plans, when added to medication, can help improve symptoms and quality of life for those with bipolar disorder.
A second line of work focuses on understanding impulsivity that occurs during states of high emotion. They have developed a personality measure that assesses trait-like tendencies toward this form of impulsivity, and have linked emotion-related impulsivity to a broad range of psychopathologies, suicidality, and aggression. Some of their current work focuses on understanding the mechanisms, at a cognitive and neural level, that lead to this form of impulsivity.