Ph.D. Yale University, Clinical Psychology
Department of Psychology
Hunter College, HN 627B
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
Current Research Areas
Our research focuses on how the brain and the visual system process affective information, and how these processes contribute to the onset and maintenance of stress states and disorders. We take a systems neuroscience approach to translational investigations of the interrelations of the neural circuitry and neuroendocrine cascades associated with stress.
Our goal is to map some of the candidate neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms that underlie maladaptive attention in stress states and stress-related disorders by integrating tools from cognitive science, neuroscience, neuroendocrinology, and clinical science. We examine the interactions of perception (cognition), arousal and valence (affect), and stress states on the continuum from normative to maladaptive (psychopathology). Our long-term goal is an enhanced understanding of the onset and maintenance of symptom episodes in posttraumatic stress disorder, with an ultimate goal of prevention.
Our lab utilizes a variety of methods, including computerized experimental tasks modified from vision science, eye-tracking, immunoassay of saliva analytes, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and diffusion weighted imaging (DWI), to investigate the mechanisms underlying both normative and maladaptive affective processing. In particular, we pursue three related lines of research. First, we investigate the role of the allocation of visual attention in stress-related states and disorders using behavioral paradigms developed by vision scientists. Second, we investigate the phenomenology of post-traumatic stress, with particular emphasis on the re-experiencing and hyperarousal symptoms, using measurement methods that include stress hormone assay. Third, we use fMRI and DWI to investigate some of the structural and functional neural systems involved in affective processing in stress states and disorders. Our current work integrates these lines as we work toward mapping the systems and trajectories of pathological affective processing in stress states and disorders.
Yoon, S.A., & Weierich, M.R. (in press). Salivary biomarkers of neural hypervigilance in trauma-exposed women. Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Van Buren, B.R., & Weierich, M.R. (in press). Peritraumatic tonic immobility and trauma-related symptoms in adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse: The role of post-trauma cognitions. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse.
Weierich, M.R., & Treat, T.A. (2014). Mechanisms of visual threat detection in specific phobia. Cognition and Emotion. Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2014.960369
Moriguchi, Y., Negreira, A.M., Weierich, M.R., Dautoff, R., Wright, C.I., Dickerson, B.D., & Barrett, L.F. (2011). Differential hemodynamic response in affective circuitry with aging: An fMRI study of novelty, valence, and arousal. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
Weierich, M.R., Wright, I.C., Negreira, A.M., Dickerson, B.C., & Barrett, L.F. (2010). Novelty as a dimension in the affective brain. Neuroimage, 49, 2871-2878.
Weierich, M.R., Treat, T.A., & Hollingworth, A. (2008). Theories and measurement of visual attentional processing in anxiety. Cognition and Emotion, 22, 985-1018.
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.