Active Studies

Grant-supported Projects

Brain Imaging and Pain (PI: Michael Robinson, PhD)


The goal of this project is to test hypotheses regarding functional interactions between brain and spinal cord underlying endogenous pain modulation.

Characterizing Alcohol Analgesia (PI: Jeff Boissoneault, PhD)


This project investigates family history of alcoholism and sex as moderators of acute alcohol analgesia and its structural and functional neural correlates.

Acute Effects of Alcohol Use on Chronic Orofacial Pain (PI: Jeff Boissoneault, PhD)


The primary aim of this project is to determine the effect of pain chronicity on the acute analgesic effects of alcohol intake using a clinically-relevant pain induction approach.

Mechanisms and Modification of Pain Modulatory Capacity (PIs: Michael Robinson, PhD and Mark Bishop, PhD)


This project proposes to understand the sources of pain variability, and demonstrate that
pain variability represents fluctuation in natural pain management. The project further
proposes to train people to maximize their body’s ability to manage pain, much as
increasing athletic performance can be trained.

Theses and Dissertation Projects

Marijuana Use, Strength Training, and Alcohol Consumption (MUSTAC) Study (Student: Erin Ferguson, MS)

Funded by the Research Society on Alcoholism and University of Florida Center for Addiction Research and Education

The goal of Erin’s dissertation is to determine whether eccentric exercise modulates alcohol and marijuana demand among co-users. To this end, she will assess demand for alcohol and marijuana using well-validated behavioral economic measures before and after vigorous exercise of the dominant elbow flexor muscle.

Recently Completed Projects

Virtual Reality Bar Pilot Study (Student: Victor Schneider II, BS)

Funded by the Center for Pain Research and Behavioral Health

While the dynamic assessment of alcohol consumption, or drinking topography, has the potential to improve understanding of mechanisms underlying alcohol consumption, past studies have been limited by lack of experimental control and intense effort involved in data collection. In this pilot project, we assessed participants’ alcohol consumption in real time utilizing a virtual reality drinking environment.

Strength Training and Alcohol Consumption (STAC) Study (PI: Jeff Boissoneault, PhD; Coordinator: Bethany Stennett, PhD)

Funded by the Center for Pain Research and Behavioral Health

The purpose of the STAC study was to study the relationship between vigorous exercise and motivation to consume alcohol using a behavioral economic framework.

The Influence of Patient Race, Sex, Pain-Related Body Postures, and Anxiety Status on Pain Management (Student: Jaylyn Clark, MS)

Funded by the Center for Pain Research and Behavioral Health

Jaylyn recently completed her dissertation project exploring the influence of patient race, sex, pain-related body postures, and anxiety status on pain management decisions made by a group of healthcare providers and trainees. Both idiographic and nomothetic analyses were found to be sensitive to the influence of patient psychological status and pain-related body postures on participants’ decision-making policies. This study was among the first to successfully use virtual human (vh) technology and the Lens model approach to explore the influence of patient pain-related body postures, patient anxiety status, and patient demographic variables on pain assessment and treatment decisions.

The Relationship of Daily Pain Variability and Low Back Pain Outcomes (Student: Danielle Wesolowicz, MS)

Funded by the Center for Pain Research and Behavioral Health

Danielle recently defended her dissertation project, which explored the role of pain variability and pain outcomes in low back pain patients. The overall goal of this project was to increase knowledge about the course of acute low back pain, and how day-to-day variations in pain intensity and related distress are associated with future persistent pain and disability levels.