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Translational Neuroscience

Abstract Illustration of Brain with GearsTranslational neuroscience is focused on discovery research to uncover disease mechanisms, novel biomarkers and candidate treatments of CNS disorders, and clinical research for translating high impact discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside.

Over the past 30 years, Duke has been involved with the development of many of the most successful diagnostic and therapeutic products used in neuropsychiatry today, including the Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 studies of AmyvidTM, the first FDA approved PET scan molecular imaging diagnostic aid for detecting brain amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.

Adcock Laboratory

The central mission of the Adcock Lab, led by R. Alison Adcock, MD, PhD, is to understand motivations to comprehend, predict and shape the world—aspiration, curiosity, anxiety—as biological and mental phenomena:

  • dynamic neural contexts that influence learning and memory formation
  • emerging from momentary changes in molecular traffic brain architecture
  • regulated by memory and prior learning experiences

We then aim to harness this understanding to improve human well-being and achievement. We want to understand how neurobiological networks for motivation respond during our interactions with the world and other people, and how these networks, in turn, optimize learning.

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Duke Cognitive-Behavioral Research & Treatment Program

The mission of the Duke CBRTP is to conduct high quality research, while providing state-of-the-art clinical training and outpatient clinical services for adults with psychiatric problems. Research in the Duke CBRTP is designed to ultimately improve treatments for some of the more difficult to treat psychiatric problems, including borderline personality disorder and major depression. The majority of our research is designed to help understand how problems with emotion regulation underlie these psychiatric disorders. Clinically, our primary expertise is in the use of cognitive behavioral therapies generally, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) specifically.



The CBRTP conducts innovative research studies that contribute to a greater understanding of mental disorders and their treatment. Most of our studies are concerned with the links between emotions, mental disorders such as depression and borderline personality disorder and their treatment. 

We have several ongoing emotion studies. In these studies, we learn more about how people experience, learn from and regulate their emotions. These studies may include interviews, tasks such as making ratings of pictures or sounds and/or measures of how your body responds to emotions. Several of these studies are done though the Sensory Processing and Emotion Regulation Program. 

We also have studies that are testing psychological treatment for different conditions, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use. Our treatment studies focus either on the the development of new behavioral ("talk therapy") treatments, or on the study of existing evidence-based treatments. Our treatment studies usually do not include medications.



Providing high quality research and clinical training is an integral part of the CBRTP.

  • Graduate Students: Zach Rosenthal, PhD has a joint appointment with the DUMC Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and the Duke University Department of Psychology & Neuroscience. Applicants to the Clinical Psychology Doctoral program may apply to work with him if they share similar research interests in either emotional functioning and borderline personality disorder or the development of novel portable computer-based interventions for psychopathology. After being accepted to the Clinical Psychology program, graduate students interested in working with Moria Smoski, PhD, should contact her. We encourage interested graduate students to receive training in our lab either through helping with ongoing studies or collaborating on new studies.
  • Undergraduate Research Assistants: As research assistants, undergraduate students learn valuable skills and have meaningful experiences to help shape their future career paths. Research assistants help with all aspects of studies, from screening subjects, running subjects in experiments, database entry and management, and help with grants and manuscripts. Research assistants can come to the CBRTP as federal work-study students (if already approved), Duke Hospital volunteers or practicum students through the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience. The minimum work per week is 8-10 hours, and the schedule of hours can be flexible. If you are interested in being an undergraduate research assistant, please contact Lisalynn Kelley, the CBRTP lead coordinator. 


Clinical Training

Advanced clinical trainees treat people under the supervision of Drs. Rosenthal and Pearce. These include advanced doctoral level graduate students, highly trained clinical psychology interns in their last year of training before receiving their PhD, psychiatry residents and post-doctoral students.

Misophonia Research

The Duke Center for Misophonia and Emotion Regulation, led by Zachary Rosenthal, PhD, conducts clinical research on misophonia, provides education to the public and evaluates patients with treatment and management recommendations about misophonia. Misophonia is a heightened sensitivity and reactivity to particular meaningful triggers, resulting in aversive physiological arousal accompanied by an emotional response.

Research is one of the core tenets of the center’s mission. Our research efforts span the continuum from measure development to laboratory studies and clinical studies, in an effort to understand with more precision what misophonia is, how it is related to problems with emotion regulation, and what can be done to improve the lives of people with misophonia. We partner and collaborate with other departments, institutes and centers at Duke, including:

  • Duke Audiology
  • Duke Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Neurobehavioral Research Lab
  • Center for Cognitive Neuroscience



Click on a faculty member’s name to view their profile, including their grants and publications.

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Mouse Behavioral & Neuroendocrine Core Facility

The study of mouse genetic and neuroendocrine contributions to behavior provides critical insights into neuropsychiatric illness and the underlying mechanisms of brain function. The Mouse Behavioral & Neuroendocrine Analysis Core Facility is an intellectual and technical resource for the Duke community and collaborators at other institutions. In addition to state-of-the art equipment, we provide assistance with experimental design, data analysis and interpretation and publication of results.

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Schizophrenia Research

One of the prime directions of our work is understanding the mechanisms of cognitive deficits in patients with schizophrenia and their treatment. In proof-of-concept trials, we will not only provide the same expertise that we normally provide for industry-supported and NIMH-supported clinical trials, but also a variety of tools that will help to enhance the detection of a cognitive signal, such as functional and structural imaging, pharmacogenetics, cognitive neuroscience tasks and metabolomics.



Richard Keefe, PhD

Click on a faculty member’s name to view their profile, including their grants and publications.