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Dr. Lisa M. Vizer was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health to analyze language data from the AURORA study under the direction of Dr. Samuel McLean. The project will investigate how we can use the language people type on their smartphones to detect and monitor symptoms such as depression and anxiety after trauma exposure.

Neuroimaging studies show that people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have functional changes in parts of the brain responsible for language and, although characteristics of language use associated with trauma recall are well-documented, relatively little is known about the impact of trauma on language use in everyday contexts. Even less is known about how characteristics of language are linked to adverse posttraumatic neuropsychiatric sequelae (APNS) outside of PTSD or how characteristics change over time. Understanding use of language after trauma exposure could improve identification of APNS phenotypes and deployment of effective interventions. Analysis of language use on smartphones contributes to the AURORA aim of identifying objective markers of Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) constructs associated with APNS and developing tools to identify people at high risk for APNS, including but not limited to PTSD.

Using hypothesis-driven and data-driven approaches, Dr. Vizer’s project will identify language markers that characterize constructs associated with APNS based on the RDoC framework. We will then extract those markers from daily histograms of the tokens typed by participants on their smartphones and develop construct and construct trajectory measurement models.

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