Update - 11/10/2013

Data collection is well underway! Team ADDICT has reached 83% of data collected to support the n=30 goal for the conrol, FR-1, and FR-10 groups. The team should be prepared to present their thesis this spring with a complete dataset.

Additionally, Team ADDICT has recently presented their research in Myrtle Beach, SC, for the 30th Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association for Behavior Analysis. Team members Shir Boger, Casey Smith, and Jigisha Srivastav attended as representatives and presented a poster on the project. The poster featured at the conference can be seen below!

Update - 11/30/2012

Team ADDICT has presented their research progress at the Gemstone junior colloqia. We've received some great feedback on our research from Gemstone class and faculty. Check it out below!

Update - 10/02/2012

Team ADDICT has just begun participant trials! We plan on conducting a number of test participant trials this term, so as to familiarize ourselves with the data collection process before scaling up for heavier data collection in the spring.

Update - 03/26/2011

Successful defense of thesis proposal from Gemstone staff and approval of our research from the institutional review board.


Addiction is a public health issue that affects the reward structures of the brain and is rooted in a crippling lack of control over one's impulses. Current drug treatment programs inadequately address an addicted individual's need to exercise self-control, as reflected in tragically high relapse rates. We are proposing a critical re-evaluation of the fundamental processes that underlie higher rates of impulsivity and addiction. Although it has been demonstrated that individuals with high pre-existing levels of impulsivity are predisposed to acquiring addictions, there is a glaring gap in current literature as to whether addictive behavior can heighten levels of impulsivity. To address this inadequacy, we will expose participants to a visual attention task where reward patterns model either drug-use or drug abstinence; we will examine changes to impulsivity as a function of the different reward patterns. By highlighting the effects of behavior/reward patterns on impulsivity levels, our research can elucidate the mechanism through which people get trapped in a destructive habit in which pre-existing impulsivity causes addiction and the addiction, in turn, promotes higher levels of impulsivity.

Team Materials

Thesis Proposal

Thesis Proposal Presentation


Background information - learn about addiction and delay discounting!

Relevant Organizations:

NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse)

NIAAA (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)

ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine)

Relevant Papers

"Excessive discounting of delayed rewards in substance abusers with gambling problems"

"Impulsivity (delay discounting) for food and cocaine in male and female rats selectively bred for high and low saccharin intake"

"Heroin addicts have higher discount rates for delayed rewards than non-drug-using controls"