Current Finn Lab Research

Broadly speaking, we are interested in understanding the self-regulatory problems associated with Alcohol Use Disorder and Substance use disorders, as well as externalizing psychopathology and behavioral disinhibition in general. Alcohol use disorder essentially reflects substantial problems regulating alcohol use such that one sees excessive binge-like drinking patterns, patterns of out of control drinking once one starts drinking (drinking far more than planned), drinking at times when it will interfere with responsibilities, put one at risk for interpersonal or legal consequences, and drinking so much that one experiences numerous health consequences.

Our primary focus has been on investigating the cognitive, motivational, and neural processes associated with impulsive and/or risky decision making in those with alcohol and other substance use disorder and in those with high levels of externalizing psychopathology. High levels of impulsivity and risk taking are hallmarks of substance use disorders and externalizing psychopathology.  We have found that lower levels of executive working memory capacity (attention control), intelligence, and general executive cognitive ability are associated impulsive/risky decision making and alcohol / substance use problems and general externalizing behavior problems. We also find that social contexts that vary in party incentives and disincentives are strong predictors of decisions about drinking and that those with problems with alcohol or behavioral problems in general respond somewhat differently to contextualized incentives and disincentives to drink.

Our studies of the neural processes associated with decision making and emotion regulation implicate various brain structures associated with executive function (i.e., frontal areas, anterior cingulate cortex), emotion regulation (e.g., the amygdala), and perception (visual cortex) are implicated in poor decision making and emotion regulation problems in these populations.

Our research also shows that if you compromise attention control (executive working memory) this leads to increased impulsive/risky decisions. Current studies are underway that examine whether we can “train” subjects to increase their capacity to control their attention, possibly leading to improved self-control of behavior and emotional responses and less propensity to engage in risky behavior. Other interests include developing mobile app technologies to sample and investigate drinking decisions in real-life contexts, and developing ways of teaching people

  • Recent Publications (2002-2017)

    Cheng, H., Kellar, D., Lake, A., Finn, P.,  Rebec, G.,  Dharmadhikari, S., Dydak, U., & Newman, S. (in press/2018). The effects of alcohol cues on MRS glutamate levels in the anterior cingulate.  Alcohol and Alcoholism (PDF)

    Bailey, A.J., Gerst, K, & Finn, P.R. (in press) Delay discounting of losses and rewards in Alcohol Use Disorder: The effect of working memory load. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. NIHMS925653 (PDF)

    Resnik, D.B, & Finn, P.R. (in press/2017). Ethics and Phishing Experiments. Science and Engineering Ethics. (PDF)

    Macapagal, K.R., Janssen, E., Mattson, M., Finn, P.R., & Heiman, J.R. (2017) The impact of message framing on young adults’ sexual decision making: An experimental study Health Psychology, 46, 385-394. 10.1007/s10508-015-0679-x (PDF)

    Finn, P.R., Gerst, K., Lake, A.J., & Bogg T. (2017).  Decisions to Attend and Drink at Party Events:  The effects of Incentives and Disincentives and Lifetime Alcohol and Antisocial Problems. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 41, 1622-1629 DOI: 10.1111/acer.13443  PMCID: PMC 5581249 (PDF)

    Prause, N., Janssen, E., Georgiatis, J., Finn, P., & Pfaus, J. (2017). Data do not support sex as addictive. The Lancet Psychiatry, 4(12), 899 (PDF)

    Forster, S.E., Finn, P.R., & Brown, J.W. (2017). Neural responses to negative outcomes predict success in community-based substance use treatment. Addiction (PDF)

    Hulvershorn, L.A.; Hummer, T Wu, Y-C., Tarter, R Rea, P., Anand, A., Chambers, R.A., Finn,P.R. Finn  (2017).  Global white matter microstructural abnormalities associated with addiction liability score in drug naïve youth  Brain Imaging and Behavior, PMC 28271440  DOI: 10.1007/s11682-017-9679-x  (PDF)

    Lake, A. J., Finn, P. R., & James, T. W. (2017). Neural correlates of emotion reappraisal in individuals with externalizing psychopathology. Brain Imaging and Behavior, 11, 76-85. PMCID: PMC4959999 (PDF)

    Forster, S.E., Finn, P.R., & Brown, J.W. (2016). A preliminary study of longitudinal neuroadaptation associated with recovery from addiction  Drug and Alcohol Dependence (PDF)

    Gerst, K., Gunn, R.L., & Finn, P.R. (2017). Delay discounting of losses in Alcohol Use Disorders and Antisocial Psychopathology: Effects of a working memory load. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 41, 1768-1774 DOI: 10.1111/acer.1347 PMCID: PMC5626637 (PDF)

    Gunn, R.L., Gerst, K.R., Lake, A.J. & Finn, P.R. (2017 in press). The Effects of Working Memory Load and Attention Refocusing on Delay Discounting Rates in Alcohol Dependence with Comorbid Antisocial Personality Disorder. Alcohol, 66, 9-14. DOI: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2017.07.009  NIHMS 908272 (PDF)

    Dai, J., Gunn, R.L., Gerst, K..R., Busemeyer, J Finn, P.R. (2016)  A random utility model of delay discounting and its application to people with externalizing psychopathology. Psychological Assessment.28, 1196-1206 (PDF

    Lake, A.J., Finn, P.R., & James, T.W. (2016)  Neural Correlates of Emotion Reappraisal in Individuals with Externalizing Psychopathology.  Brain Imaging and Behavior (PDF)

    Endres, M.J., Houpt J., Donkin, C. &  Finn, P.R. (2015) Working Memory Capacity and Redundant Information Processing Efficiency. Frontiers in Psychology, Quantitative Psychology and Measurement, 6: 594 (PDF)

    Gunn, R.L. & Finn, P.R. (2015). Applying a dual process model of self-regulation: The association between executive working memory capacity, negative urgency, and negative mood induction on pre-potent response inhibition. Personality and Individual Differences (PDF)

    Hulvershorn, L.A., Hummer, T.A., Fukunaga, R.,  Leibenluft, E., Finn, P.R., Cyders, M.,Anand,A.,Overhage, L., Dir, A., & Brown, J. (2015).  Neural activation during risky decision-making in youth at high risk for substance use disorders  Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 233, 102-111. (PDF)

    Alexander,W.H., Fukunaga, R., Finn, P.,  Brown, J.W. (2015) Reward salience and risk aversion underlies differential ACC activity in substance dependence. NeuroImage: Clinical, pp. 59-71 DOI:10.1016/j.nicl.2015.02.025  NIHMS 678251 (PDF)

    Finn, P.R., Gunn, R.L.,  & Gerst, K. (2015) The effects of a working memory load on delay discounting  in those with externalizing psychopathology. Clinical Psychological Science (PDF)

    Endres, M., Donkin, C., Finn, P.R. (2014) An information processing / associative learning account of behavioral disinhibition in externalizing psychopathology.Experimental Clinical Psychopharmacology, 22, 122-132 PMC3981894 (PDF)

    Arcurio, L.R., Finn, P.R., &  James, T. W  (2013) Neural mechanisms of high-risk decisions-to-drink in alcohol dependent women.  Addiction Biology (PDF)

    Fridberg, D., Gerst, K., & Finn, P.R. (2013) Effects of working memory load, a history of conduct disorder, and sex on decision making in substance dependent individuals.  Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 133, 654-660 (PDF)

    Gunn, R.L., Finn, P.R., Endres, M.J., Gerst, K., & Spinola, S. (2013). Dimensions of disinhibited personality and their relation with alcohol use and problems.  Addictive Behaviors, 38, 2352-2360 (PDF)

    Gunn, R., L., & Finn, P.R., (2013). Impulsivity partially mediates the association between reduced working memory capacity and alcohol problems. Alcohol, 47, 3-8 (PDF)

    Endres, M., Rickert M.E., Bogg, T., Lucas, J Finn P,R. (2011) Externalizing Psychopathology and Behavioral Disinhibition: Working Memory Mediates Signal Discriminability and Reinforcement Moderates Response Bias in Go/No-Go Performance. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 120, 336-351PMCID PMC3091963 (PDF)

    Bogg, T., & Finn, P.R. (2010). A self regulatory model of behavioral disinhibition in late adolescence: Integrating personality traits, externalizing psychopathology, and cognitive capacity. Journal of Personality,78(2) 441-470 PMCID PMC3145208 (PDF)

    Bogg, T., & Finn, P.R. (2009).  An Ecologically-Based Model of Alcohol Consumption Decision-Making: Evidence for the Discriminative and Predictive Role of Contextual Reward and Punishment Information. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 70, 446-457 (PDF)

    Bobova, L., Finn, P.R., Rickert, M.E., & Lucas, J. (2009). Disinhibitory Psychopathology andDelay Discounting in Alcohol Dependence: Personality and Cognitive Correlates. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 17,51-61 (PDF)

    Cantrell, E., Finn, P.R., Rickert, M.E, & Lucas J (2008). Decision-Making in Early-OnsetAlcohol Dependence. Insensitivity to Future Consequences and  Co-morbid Disinhibitory Psychopathology. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research , 32, 1398-1407 (PDF)

    Finn, P.R. (2002). Motivation, Working Memory, and Decision Making: A cognitivemotivational theory of vulnerability to alcoholism. Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Reviews, 1, 181-203 (PDF)