Our Research


The Youth, Emotion, Development, and Intervention Lab is seeking 7th–10th graders for STARS: a study about everyday Screen Shot 2021-02-23 at 11.12.47 AMexperiences of interpersonal stress and emotions! Participation will involve questionnaires and completing smartphone surveys for 14 days. All study procedures can be completed online from your own home. Participants will receive up to $80 for completing this study.

If you are interested, or would like to learn more, contact the YEDI lab at psych-yedi@illinois.edu or (217) 300-9334.

R-LIFE R-Life Logo

R-LIFE is a study of everyday feelings and experiences in middle schoolers and their parents. The study involves questionnaires and smartphone-surveys completed at 3 time points across 1 year.

The purpose of this research study is to learn more about the ways in which adolescents and their caregivers experience and manage adolescents’ emotions in daily life. By examining patterns of adolescent and caregiver emotions in everyday settings, as well as the strategies adolescents use to manage their daily emotions, we hope to learn more about adolescents’ emotional development. Further, by examining how these patterns relate to adolescent mental health, we hope to better understand how mental health disorders like anxiety and depression develop during adolescence.

The CARE ProjectPregnancy Brochure 2.jpg

The CARE Project is a research study that aims to learn about how women’s emotional wellbeing in pregnancy influences infant development. We will examine how reducing women’s symptoms of depression during pregnancy affect their child’s development. After an initial study visit consisting of an interview, questionnaires, and blood, saliva, and hair samples, women will be randomly assigned to receive one of two interventions for the treatment of depression: Maternity Services Support (MSS) or MOMCare.

MSS:  Women in MSS will receive the usual standard of care

MOMCare: Women randomized to MOMCare will meet with a MOMCare provider for about 8 individual sessions focusing on helping them feel better during pregnancy

After completion of the intervention, maternal measures will be collected longitudinally through 12 months postpartum. Prenatal assessments will be conducted in person either at the University of Denver, Denver Health, or University of Colorado Hospital at approximately 10, 24, and 34 weeks gestation, and by phone or by online survey at approximately 16 and 20 weeks gestation. During prenatal visits, blood and hair samples will be collected and assayed for stress markers including placental CRH, maternal plasma cortisol, and maternal hair cortisol. Additionally, infant physiological stress regulation (hair cortisol) and neurobehavior will be assessed after birth. At 2 months postpartum, we will interview the mother by phone or by online survey. The mother and infant will then attend two postnatal lab visits at 6 months and 12 months in the Neurodevelopmental Research Program at the University of Denver. Maternal and child behavior will be evaluated at the postnatal lab visits, using standardized assessments/questionnaires; and infant physiological stress regulation will be evaluated (hair cortisol). Infant brain structure and function will be assessed between 2 weeks and 3 months by MRI scan at the Center for Innovation and Creativity located at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

To learn more about the CARE project or to inquire about participation, visit our brochure.

Personalized Depression Prevention

We would like to know if certain types of programs work better for adolescents with different types of risk factors for depression. To do this, we are comparing two types of group prevention programs, Teen Talk and Coping with Stress. Both of these programs have been previously researched and those who have participated have shown an improvement in coping skills (and overall functioning), which may result in prevention of future onsets of a depressive episode (among other things). Upon the completion of a pre-group assessment (consisting of questionnaires, an optional fMRI scan, and an interview), each adolescent will be randomly assigned to one of two programs:

Coping with Stress focuses on how the way we think affects our mood and teaches adolescents skills to deal with stressful situations.

Teen Talk focuses on how the way we communicate with others affects our mood and teaches adolescents skills to deal with interpersonal relationships.

Each of the above mentioned programs will consist of 8 weekly group sessions that last 90 minutes each. After the 8 weeks, the adolescents will also participate in 3 “booster” sessions over the course of a 6 month period in which new skills may be taught; along with any necessary guidance an adolescent may need implementing the skills learned in the groups. A second optional fMRI scan may be conducted as well. Adolescents and parents will be assessed at the halfway point of the groups, as well as right after the completion of the program and at 6-month intervals for the following 3 years (a total of 7 post-group assessments).


The purpose of this study is to see how executive function skills relate to psychopathology and these brain areas develop over time. The study focuses on adolescent and adult participants and uses brain imaging through fMRI, executive function tasks, and diagnostic interview to understand psychological development.