Which study are you interested in?

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Click here to learn more about our current studies and how you can help.

ABOUT THE LAB

Learn more about the Social Motivation & Imaging Laboratory (SMILe).

CONTACT US

Have questions?  Want to talk to our lab?  Call us at 385-645-FMRI or click for more info.

VOLUNTEER

Current Studies

Want to help make a difference? Check out the listing below to read about our ongoing studies and see if you may be eligible to participate!

Social Relationships & Reward

OXYTOCIN, REWARD, & THE BRAIN

A hormone named ‘oxytocin’ has been shown to have positive effects on some social behaviors and is thought to shape the way we perceive social rewards. In this study, we want to understand how oxytocin can change the way social and non-social information is processed in the brain.

We will continue recruiting for this study this fall.


COVID-19 HEALTH STUDY

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many of us are able to socialize with others. This may have serious impact on our physical and mental health. In this study, we want to understand whether people’s social needs are being met and understand how our social lives are effecting our health, moods, and behaviors.

Click here to see if you may be eligible

Women's Health

WOMEN’S HEALTH STUDY

The goal of this study is to examine how social and non-social rewards are processed over the course of the menstrual cycle, discover how sex hormone levels may impact reward processing, and explore whether regular alcohol consumption can influence this activity.

Click here to see if you may be eligible

Chronic Pain

CHRONIC PAIN NEUROIMAGING STUDY

There are more than 50 million people living with pain. In this study, we will use brain imaging technologies to help us better understand chronic pain which could help inform future efforts to develop more effective, personalized treatment strategies.

We will use baseline measures of brain activity and see whether we can predict future pain and medication use. We hope this information will help improve our understanding of the nature of chronic pain, how it changes over time, and how this can influence medication use and treatment effectiveness.

Click here to see if you may be eligible

Mental Health Research

 OXYTOCIN & ALCOHOL USE DISORDER

A hormone named ‘oxytocin’ is currently being considered as a potential treatment for alcohol use disorder. In this study, we want to understand how oxytocin can change the way social and non-social information is processed in the brain.

We will continue recruiting for this study this fall.


INSOMNIA & ALCOHOL USE DISORDER

More than a third of American adults do not get enough sleep. In this study, we are designing a smartphone app to help people who have recently stopped drinking address their sleep problems.

Click here to see if you may be eligible

What we study

Being able to appropriately interpret and respond to rewarding events is essential to our well-being. The brain’s reward system is responsible for identifying the significance of everyday items, assigning a value, and determining what action should be taken. When these systems are affected by disease or stress, reactions to natural rewards like food and social interaction can be impaired.

TECHNOLOGY

We use surveys, games, and imaging technologies to explore how we respond to rewards.  Our current studies focus on understanding how our day to day interactions can affect our health, how we behave, and how respond to reward.

REWARD

Your brain contains networks which respond to all sorts of rewards — including social rewards like interacting with friends. We can study these networks by scanning you while you play games where you have a chance to win a reward.

BRAIN PICS

We use functional magnetic imaging (fMRI) to examine the brain ‘at work’.   If you ever wanted to see what your brain looked like, participating in research studies using fMRI is one way to get a candid look of your own gray matter.

HELP OTHERS

Our studies are designed to help us understand how we process rewards and how we interact with others.  We hope to use this information to help people with psychiatric and pain conditions recover and live happy and fulfilling lives.

PRINICIPAL INVESTIGATOR, TIFFANY LOVE, PHD


Tiffany Love is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Utah. She received her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan and has spent more than a decade investigating the neural mechanisms that underlie risk to develop disease.

DR. LOVE’S CV
GREAT SCIENCE IS BUILT ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS. MEET OURS.
Lauren Ericksen, BS

Lauren Ericksen recently received her BS in Biomedical Engineering, and is the mother to an incredibly sweet nugget of a daughter. She has research interests in addictive behaviors, especially as they intersect with pregnancy and chronic pain conditions. In the SMILe Lab, Lauren works on database construction, image analysis, and regulatory affairs. She is interested in pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience in the near future.

Sarah Cote, BA

Sarah Cote is a Clinical Psychology with Health Emphasis doctoral student. She is minoring in Neuropsychology and has research interests in cognitive impairment, mood, and brain integrity in aging adults. In the SMILe lab, Sarah recruits research participants, conducts research visits and evaluations, and helps develop clinical research study design.

Maxine Gavin, MS

Maxine has a BS in Anthropology with a Psychology minor. While completing her MS in Biomedical Informatics, she gained experience in a clinical laboratory at the University of Utah. Her interest in applying informatics tools in the area of psychiatric research brought her to the SMILe Lab where she assists with study coordination. She is interested in pursuing more schooling in the future.

GREAT SCIENCE IS BUILT ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS. MEET OURS.

Matt Thurston, MS

After completing his BS in Neuroscience, Matt spent a few years working with clinical research teams in the fields of Psychiatry and Pediatric Emergency Medicine before completing his MS in Neuroimaging and Informatics at USC. He hopes to begin his PhD in Neuroscience soon and has  an interest in studying the neural processes associated with affective and social cognition in various psychiatric disorders.

Rebecca Jacobs, BS

Rebecca has a BS in Chemical Engineering. She left industry to learn more about the world of clinical research, and is interested in the neurology of addictive behaviors and social reward centers. She is an avid hiker, rafter, and dog mom who loves exploring the outdoors with her pooch. In the SMILe lab, Rebecca  conducts research visits and evaluations, assists with regulatory affairs, and designs clinical research studies.

Rotating Students

Tanner Goodman
Zo Kronberg
Morgan Rohner

CONTACT OUR LABSTUDENT ROTATION APPLICATION

The information posted on this site is consistent with the research reviewed and approved by the University of Utah Institutional Review Board (IRB). However, the IRB has not reviewed all material posted on this site. Contact the IRB if you have questions regarding your rights as a research participant. Also contact the IRB if you have questions, complaint, or concerns which you do not feel you can discuss with the investigator. The University of Utah IRB may be reached by phone at (801) 581‐3655 or by e-mail at irb@hsc.utah.edu.