This project is to show the relevance of specific vulnerability factors for smoking cessation failure, and to show that modification of these risk factors with intervention results in an improved ability to tolerate periods of nicotine withdrawal/craving without smoking. The vulnerability factors are specifically relevant to low socioeconomic status smokers, and include negative affectivity, low working memory capacity, and low distress tolerance. This research represents a first step toward trying to improve smoking cessation for these individuals by validating new treatment approaches.

Michael Otto, PhD

Principal Investigator

Boston University

Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences

Boston, MA

Dr. Otto has had a major career focus on developing and validating new psychosocial treatments for anxiety, mood, psychotic, and substance use disorders, with a particular focus on treatment refractory populations. This includes a translational research agenda investigating brain-behavior relationships in therapeutic learning.  His focus on hard-to-treat conditions and principles underlying behavior-change failures led him to an additional focus on health behavior promotion, including investigations of addictive behaviors, medication adherence, sleep, and exercise.  Across these health behaviors, he has been concerned with cognitive, attention, and affective factors that derail adaptive behaviors, and the factors that can rescue these processes. He also investigates exercise as an intervention for affective and addictive disorders, as well as for cognitive enhancement. He has over 400 publications spanning his research interests, and Dr. Otto was identified as a “top producer” in the clinical empirical literature, and an ISI Highly Cited Researcher. He is a Past President and Fellow of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, is currently President and Fellow of Division 12 of the American Psychological Association, and is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.

Will Aklin, PhD


Program Official