Projects

Morningness-Eveningness in children, time of day, and impact on standardized measures used in the assessment of reading and writing difficulties

Principal Investigator

Ana Allen Gomes

Period

2012 - 2015

Funding

FCT/COMPETE (PTDC/PSI-EDD/120003/2010)

Summary of the main aims and conclusions:

Central aims:

  1. To study the Portuguese version of the Children Chronotype Questionnaire for Children (CCTQ) of Werner, LeBourgeois, Geiger and Jenni (2009) in a national sample of preschool and primary school children, aged 4 to 11 years-old, in order to obtain a reliable and valid instrument to measure diurnal type/chronotype (morningness-eveningness);
  2. To study the influence of chronotype (morningness-eveningness), and time of the day, on primary school children’s performance in standardized psychoeducational measures used for assessing reading and writing skills and to inform diagnostic decisions regarding impairment of these skills. That is, we sought to determine whether the congruence versus incongruence between children chronotype and time-of-the-day has an effect on the performance scores of the children tested.

Main general conclusions:

  • I part/aim of the project: the Portuguese version of the CCTQ is a reliable and valid questionnaire to estimate chronotypes and in particular morningnesss-eveningness (diurnal type) in children. Besides, this Portuguese study contribute to the knowledge about children morningness-eveningness, given the large sample size collected and the available data to characterize 9-11 years old pubertal children too (in addition to non-pubertal ones).
  • II part/aim of the project: children performance in standardized measures used in psychoeducational assessments of reading/writing competencies/difficulties, and school learning skills, might be affected by time of day depending on their diurnal type. However, our results show that the relationships between diurnal type and time of day are far more complex than the initial simplistic supposition that better performance would be achieved in the optimal time. Therefore, for the moment, no specific recommendation seems to be possible regarding our initial concern on whether test norms should take into account children diurnal type. In reality, non-optimal times might eventually favour performances in specific tasks.

Our results suggest that studies concerned with synchrony effects should anticipate asynchrony findings, and should consider also the nature of the tasks, as the combined effects of diurnal type and time of day seem to be highly variable depending on specific cognitive processes and demands involved. In conclusion, our results in school children raised new research questions and hypothesis that deserve further investigation.

https://www.fct.pt/apoios/projectos/consulta/vglobal_projecto.phtml.en?idProjecto=120003&idElemConcurso=4236

The role of compassionate and competitive mentalities in adolescents’ mental health: A programme for the promotion of self-acceptance and self-compassion skills

Principal Investigator

Ana Laura Mendes

Period

2017 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/119286/2016)

The competitive context that characterizes modern Western societies and the requirement for performance / goals of excellence are considered crucial factors in the explanation of psychopathology in adolescence, particularly eating psychopathology among young women.

This project’s main goal is to develop, apply and test an innovative intervention program for female adolescents that integrates components of different 3rd generation psychotherapeutic approaches based on acceptance and compassion, which have shown promising results. The intervention aims to reduce maladaptive processes / patterns (social comparison, self-criticism, competition and / or avoidance) and to promote the development of adaptive processes (self-compassion and self-acceptance). Additionally, a longitudinal study will clarify the impact of the modification of these mechanisms on different psychopathological indicators, especially regarding body image and eating-related behaviours.

This work constitutes a new approach to adolescence, as a phase of particular opportunities for the development of a compassionate mentality and of affiliative skills, known as promotors of psychosocial well-being.

Fear memory: A study using neuromodulation

Principal Investigator

Ana Ganho

Period

2016 - ...

Funding

FCT Project (PTDC/MHC-PAP/5618/2014)

An adjusted fear response is at the core of organisms’ survival and seems to be dependent on the engagement of memory reconsolidation mechanisms. Reconsolidation is the process by which memories are updated according to environmental demands. In order to induce reconsolidation, researchers have been exploring post-reactivation extinction (PR-ext). Classical fear extinction (C-ext) seems to result in a temporary fear response inhibition, whereas PR-ext extinction seems to lead to elimination of fear. This revising process has been a target of interest for innovative treatments for anxiety disorders.  However, researchers face reconsolidation boundary conditions. Namely, C-ext seems to block simultaneous reconsolidation processes, inhibiting fear memory erasure. This project main goal is to use neuromodulation to surpass this limitation. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) will be complementary techniques to behavioral PR-ext, to trigger reconsolidation, and eliminate fear.

Prevention of depression among Portuguese adolescents: Efficacy study of an intervention with adolescents and parents

Principal Investigator

Ana Paula Matos

Period

2013 - 2015

Funding

FCT/COMPETE (PTDC/MHC-PCL/4824/2012)

 

The main aims of this project were to identify a risk profile for the development of depression in adolescence, comprising genetic factors, and to study the efficacy of an intervention that included a program for adolescents (adapted from the Mind and Health program by Arnarson & Craighead, 2009, 2011) and an innovative parenting program with components of 3rd wave cognitive-behavioral intervention, developed by Pinheiro & Matos, 2013). Intervention manuals for adolescents and parents and assessment tools (e.g., diagnostic interviews – Kiddie-Sads, ALife and CDRS-R, and self-report questionnaires) were translated, adapted and constructed. A follow-up of 2 years was carried out on samples of at-risk and community-based youth. Results of several cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of moderation and mediation, including efficacy results, have been published. Outputs of this project continue to be disseminated.

Prevention of depression among Portuguese adolescents: efficacy study of an intervention with adolescents and parents

Principal Investigator

Ana Paula Matos

Period

2015 - 2016

Funding

Realan Foundation (UC - II0152)

 

The main aims of this project were to complete follow ups of the program study and to continue analysis and dissemination of data, initiated in the research project PTDC/MHC-PCL/4824/2012.

Intimate Partner Violence during transition to motherhood: Comprehension and intervention based on Evolutionary Psychology’ contributions

Principal Investigator

Ana Rita Martins

Period

2017 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/122665/2016)

 

The current recognition of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) as a public crime, the high incidence rates and the proven adverse impact on victim’s health, especially during life cycle periods of greater vulnerability such as pregnancy, make research and intervention with pregnant victims a priority. Despite the social and legal advances in the implementation of immediate judicial, social and emotional support for the victims, there are no specific psychological models explaining the impact of IPV on adaptation to pregnancy, or validated intervention programs that help victims develop intrapersonal skills to promote their own protection. As such, this project has two main goals: (1) to test predictive models of the impact of different factors on the (in)adaptation of the women victims of IPV during motherhood transition; and (2) to develop, implement and evaluate the impact of a structured group intervention program based on Evolutionary Psychology’ models.

This intervention program aims to promote protective behaviors and emotional regulation strategies that allow victims to: obtain information about the IPV cycle, physical/psychological consequences during pregnancy and protective services/supports available; develop intrapersonal strategies that promote their own protection at short and long time, eliminating and preventing violence interactions, and decreasing the threat/defense internal system associated; promote the activation of the affiliation system, developing maternal competences of adequate care and safe bonding; change representations of dysfunctional mentalities and social roles, promoting problem solving skills, decision making processes and affection regulation during pregnancy. The program impact will be measured through a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT). The main expected contributions are highlighted in three major levels: (1) Theoretical-scientific conception; (2) Implications for prevention and clinical practice; and (3) Legal, economic and social relevance.

Memory stimulation in mild Alzheimer Disease: the role of SenseCam in general cognitive function and well-being

Principal Investigator

Ana R. Silva

Period

2011 - 2016

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/68816/2010)

 

Based on the recent research about neurorehabilitation techniques available for probable Alzheimer disease (AD) dementia in early stages, this investigation aims to compare the potential efficiency of a memory stimulation programs/ techniques. We compared a program based on the existing memory training exercises (memo+), and a wearable digital device – SenseCam – that will act as an external passive memory aid. The participants in the study were 57 individuals with probable AD dementia (amnestic presentation category), randomly assigned to three conditions (Memo+; SenseCam; control condition -writing a diary). With both these instruments, it is expected that patients can improve their memory, but also their functional abilities and quality of life, that are domains with great impact for the patients´ daily life. Results pointed for the efficacy of SenseCam equivalent to an intensive memory training program, and more effective to reduce depressive symptomatology, suggesting its interest for non-motivated patients.

Depression in adolescence: A new psychotherapeutic intervention protocol

Principal Investigator

Andreia Azevedo

Period

2013 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/84252/2012)

 

The main aim of this investigation is to study depression in adolescence in the Portuguese population, identifying context variables and psychological processes that characterize it. Following this preliminary study, a new group intervention protocol is developed and applied to depressed adolescents, randomly placed in the experimental condition and in the control condition (treatment as usual condition). The results of this intervention are further evaluated and monitored every six months, in a two-year follow-up period. This investigation will be an important step in the understanding of Depression, by focusing on an early stage of its development and extending the follow-up for more than a year. It will also have the added value of the construction of a manualized intervention protocol, which will be available to the therapeutic community.

The Clinical Interview for Psychotic Disorders: Validation study

Principal Investigator

António Ferreira de Macedo

Period

2017 - ...

Funding

Janssen, Cilag Pharmaceutic (Investigator initiative project; PEP:IN0851)

 

The Department of Psychological Medicine (University of Coimbra, Faculty of Medicine) and the Cognitive and Behavioral Center for Research and Intervention (University of Coimbra, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences) developed a new semi-structured clinical interview for the assessment of the psychotic-spectrum. The “Clinical Interview for Psychotic Disorders” (CIPD is used thereafter), based on DSM5 (2013) criteria, is divided in four main sections: 1) Psychosis-spectrum disorders; 2) Mood-related disorders; 3) Substance-related disorders; 4) Co-morbidity and Associated Symptoms. The sections are independent, and individual sections can be used independently (e.g. psychosis-spectrum) to assess change (e.g. after psychopharmacological intervention). The CIPD has two types of scores: a) diagnosis scores (absence/presence of symptoms; total score for symptom severity and frequency – positive and negative symptoms); and extra-diagnosis scores (total score of conviction regarding delusions; total score for empowerment with psychotic symptoms; total score of interference caused by symptoms of all sections; total score for suicide risk – considering psychotic and humor-related symptoms, past and present). The CIPD also have a total score for severity of psychotic illness (considering the different contributions of different symptoms to the diagnosis and a score for treatment adherence. This score can be useful in assessing overall change due to treatment. The CIPD has two types of raters – there are clinician-rated questions and patient-rated questions. The CIPD has already been submitted to an expert panel evaluation in order to assess: the relevance of the items and the clarity of language (for the specific population. Results from the panel highlight the adequacy and clinical pertinence of the CIPD. This Project aims at studying the psychometric properties of the CIPD in a sample of patients with a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder.

Objectives and Hypothesis:

1. Primary

  • Specific objective: Validating the CIPD in a clinical Portuguese population with a diagnosis of a psychotic-spectrum disorder (DSM-5).
  • Hypothesis:

1.1. The CIPD will have high inter-rater agreement;

1.2. The CIPD will have sensitivity and specificity – the ability to detect differences in different psychotic diagnostic categories and ability to correctly identify the diagnosis.

2. Secondary

  • Hypothesis:

2.1. Specific sections of the CIPD (e.g. psychotic symptoms) will have good convergent and divergent validity;

2.2. Quantitative ratings will fit acceptably to factorial models.

3. Other

  • Hypothesis:

3.1. The CIPD will have predictive validity as evaluated by measuring change after a clinical (e.g. psychotherapeutic) intervention (1 week after the intervention).

3.2. The CIPD will be well accepted by the patients and the interview will not be an aversive moment.

Study on attitudes towards political processes

Principal Investigator

Bárbara Lopes

Period

2015 - 2017

Funding

Psychology Research Funding, De Montfort University, UK (small grant)

 

Project that is part of the Psychology of terrorism stream that examined the relationships between national identity, discrimination, paranoia and Islamic Terrorism.

Feasibility study – gauging cancer sufferers’ views on a planned project

Principal Investigator

Bárbara Lopes

Period

2015 - 2016

Funding

Psychology Research Funding, De Montfort University, UK (small grant)

 

Preliminary study on the feasibility of an online compassionate focused intervention for patients suffering from cancer in the UK.

Addressing Social and Health Challenges through new developments in Structured Additive Distributional Regression Models

Principal Investigator

Bruno de Sousa

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT/FEDER/POCI (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-029443 – SHSADReM)

Structured additive distributional regression provides a unifying framework for regression models to overcome some of the limitations of common regression specifications, namely instead of focusing on the expectation of the response, they take on a broader view and enable modeling the complete conditional distribution of the response in terms of covariates. In addition, one considers structured additive predictors that additively combine a variety of regression effects including nonlinear effects of continuous covariates, varying coefficients, spatial effects of various forms, random intercepts and random slopes, as well as a number of additional effects. This project focuses on extending and developing statistical methodology for structured additive distributional regression and on applying the developed methodology in timely and challenging research areas from the life sciences and social sciences.

From symptoms to diagnosis of Urban Tuberculosis, considering individual and contextual factors. What are the determinants and critical points of this delay’s pathways

Principal Investigator

Carla Nunes

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT project (PTDC/SAU-PUB/31346/2017)

In medium-low incidence European countries, a stable or upward trend in Tuberculosis (T B) incidence observed in large cities is contrasting with its decline in the remaining places. Focus on Pulmonary Urban TB, this study aims to understand the delay between onset of symptoms and diagnosis. Specifically, we aim to identify areas that have higher delays and to characterize delay by its components: delay attributable to patients and attributable to health services, and associated factors. Potential barriers on this delay chain will be identify and several scenarios will be simulated. Also we will analyze the impact of the delays on the individual outcome – treatment success/failure. Two local studies (Lisbon and Oporto – high incidence areas) will developed, based on questionnaires applied to new patients, allowing detailed analyses. As a contextual approach, a nationwide study will be focusing on global delay, based on data provided by Portugal’s National Tuberculosis Control Programme.

Uncovering the endophenotypic factors on the impact of functional outcomes in schizophrenia: studies on different genetic risk samples from the Portuguese Island Cohort

Principal Investigator

Carolina Dall’Antonia da Motta

Period

2016 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/110308/2015)

 

Schizophrenia is a complex heritable brain disorder, entailing significant costs to healthcare that, by its nature and phenomenology, presents severe social (e.g. family) and psychological consequences(decreased wellbeing, autonomy and life expectancy). The progress in understanding the pathophysiology of schizophrenia points to the integration of genetic and neurobiological methods as an important venue of research. Recent research trends have shifted the focus from ‘fuzzy’ phenotypic descriptions of this heterogeneous disease to the endophenotypic aspects, as a way to empirically study and systematize the underpinnings of schizophrenia. The application of neurobehavioral measures as endophenotypes in studies in schizophrenia is in vogue, particularly the inquiry on the relationship of those variables amongst themselves and their impact on functional outcome. This investigation aims to provide an empirical contribute to the understanding of the endophenotypic aspects involved in schizophrenia in the PIC (Portuguese Island Cohort), proposing new intervention targets and psychosocial approaches for families and patients.

Genomic Psychiatry Cohort – Portuguese Family Recontact Study

Principal Investigator

Célia Barreto Carvalho

Period

2013 - 2014

Funding

National Institute of Mental Health (3R01MH085548-05S1)

 

In this project Celia Barreto Carvalho, PhD, is proposing to extend the Portuguese Island Cohort (PIC) study through recontact of families ascertained over the last 20 years. To do this, she is proposing funding from the University of Southern California, through the Genomic Psychiatry Cohort study. In designing the Genomic Psychiatry Cohort study, Michele and Carlos Pato balanced the desirability of careful characterization of phenotype and careful selection of controls, with the major focus on the rapid collection of the subjects for this study and the financial resources available for this project. Further, greater phenotypic characterization will be possible because an inherent element in our design, is that we will clinically follow-up the majority of the subjects and have the ability through consent, to re-contact patients as we define new genomic, environmental, and phenotypic characteristics for future study.

Genomic Psychiatry Cohort – Azorean Trio Study

Principal Investigator

Célia Barreto Carvalho

Period

2014 - 2016

Funding

National Institute of Mental Health (5R01MH085548-05)

 

This study propose to extend the Portuguese Island Cohort (PIC) study through the identification and study of new individuals with schizophrenia and parents and siblings of this patients from Azores Islands. To do this, she is proposing funding from the University of Southern California, through the Genomic Psychiatry Cohort study. The budget for this study is tied to productivity. In designing the Genomic Psychiatry Cohort study, Michele and Carlos Pato balanced the desirability of careful characterization of phenotype and careful selection of controls, with the major focus on the rapid collection of the subjects for this study and the financial resources available for this project. Further, greater phenotypic characterization will be possible because an inherent element in our design, is that we will clinically follow-up the majority of the subjects and have the ability, through consent, to re-contact patients as we define new genomic, environmental, and phenotypic characteristics for future study.

Sex education in school and family context: The contribution of personal, relational and educational variables to the understanding of youngsters’ sexual experiences

Principal Investigator

Cristiana Carvalho

Period

2011 - 2018

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/75130/2010)

 

Relations between sociocognitive, affective, relational, and situational factors have challenged sex education to increase protective sexual behaviours and to decrease risky sexual behaviours. In this line, the main aim of the present work was to explore relations between personal (knowledge, views and attitudes regarding sexuality and sex education), educational (sex education practices by parents and teachers) and relational (communication and relationship quality with educators and romantic partners) variables, and to integrate these relations in a comprehensive model of youngsters’ protective sexual experiences. The operationalization of the variables under study required the adaptation, development, and validation of several instruments.

This research project includes thirteen empirical studies conducted with three different samples, namely, adolescents (N=1586), parents (N=367) and teachers (N=144). In these studies, a quantitative analysis using descriptive, differential, and correlational approaches prevailed, which allowed the development of a comprehensive path analysis model of adolescents’ protective sexual behaviours.

The studies conducted with the three samples showed that knowledge, attitudes and opinions, although diverse, are generally favourable to sex education in school and in the family. Regarding adolescents, results suggested the importance of communication competencies and strategies with partners, parents, and teachers. Regarding the sex education curriculum, adolescents showed a preference for themes related to sexual pleasure. Additionally, results showed that teachers have more knowledge and less limiting beliefs about sexuality when compared to parents and adolescents. Results also showed divergences between educators and adolescents in the perception of communication strategies about sexuality and sex education: adolescents would like to talk more with their parents and only seldom talk to their teachers, as well as they attribute to both educators higher levels of communication strategies based on manipulation than educators’ self-ratings. In line with these divergences, path analysis showed that the use of communication strategies based on manipulation by teachers has a negative impact on favourable attitudes about the negotiation of the use of condoms with the sexual partner. In the same line, communication competencies with the romantic partner based on controlling the other and on ambience management, emotional negligence and inattentiveness in the romantic relationship, were also predictors of condom use negotiation. This model also showed that positive attitudes about negotiation of the use of condoms mediated the relation between communication with the romantic partner and with teachers, besides mediating the motivational intention to use a condom in the next sexual encounter. Taken together, communication variables explain 40% of the variance of the negotiation attitude. Motivational intention, in turn, had a positive direct effect on the protective sexual behaviour index, as did the number of years of sex education in school and positive attitudes regarding sexual pleasure related to condom use. Hence, in addition to the indirect effect mediated by the motivational intention to use a condom in the next sexual encounter, positive attitudes regarding sexual pleasure related to condom use have a direct effect on protective sexual behaviour.

In general, results from the empirical studies offer new perspectives regarding the nature of protective sexual behaviours. Favourable attitudes towards sexual pleasure associated with condom use, communication with the sexual partner, negotiation of the use of condom, quality of the interpersonal relationship with the romantic partner, and communication with teachers and years of sex education in school are variables that directly or indirectly interfere with the motivational intention to use condom in the next sexual encounter, as well as with one’s protective sexual behaviour (consistent condom use). This work presents new challenges and provides new support for research and intervention. Implications for the promotion of youngsters’ sexual and reproductive health are presented, as well as recommendations for parents, health technicians and education professionals. Lastly, this work provides guidelines for the development of sex education programs and for the update of health policies and practices directed to the promotion of sexual and reproductive health in adolescents.

Breaking the cycle of binge eating: Causes, consequences and intervention implications

Principal Investigator

Cristiana Duarte

Period

2012 - 2017

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/76858/2011)

 

This project investigated the role of contextual variables (e.g., early negative experiences, stigmatizing context) and negative emotions and self-evaluations (shame, body image shame, social comparison) on disordered eating symptoms, eating disinhibition and binge eating, and in difficulties in regulating weight, in different populations (adolescents, adult populations, nonclinical and clinical populations, with different weight ranges). This project led to the development of an integrative conceptualization model of the continuum of binge eating symptomatology, and to the development of a pilot ICT-based low intensity intervention for binge eating problems.

The neural basis of self­criticism and self­compassion in eating disorders: The role of an integrative intervention approach on neuroplasticity

Principal Investigator

Cristiana Marques

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/129749/2017)

 

This project aims to assess brain circuitry of ED patients using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), with a focus on functional and effective connectivity, and to develop and test the efficacy of a mindfulness, acceptance, and self-compassion based intervention program for ED patients. The integrative approach intervention allows to intervene in reducing important maladaptive emotion regulation strategies, such as shame, self-criticism, and rumination. The results of this study could significantly contribute to our understanding of brain processes and psychological mechanisms in the development and maintenance of ED.

Inequalities in childhood obesity: The impact of the socio-economic crisis in Portugal from 2009 to 2015

Principal Investigator

Cristina Padez

Period

2016 - ...

Funding

FCT Project (PTDC/DTP-SAP/1520/2014)

 

The project ObesInCrisis aim to develop prospective and comparative studies about changes in families’ behaviour and in environmental infrastructures from 2009 to 2015-16 and to assess their impact in childhood obesity. The outcome of this project will provide clues for the policymakers and authorities of different arenas – health care, social security, education, transportation – and at different levels – local, regional and national – to overcome health risks and help the most vulnerable people.

The prevalence of trauma related disorders in children and adolescents affected by forest fires and impact of psychological interventions on their recovery

Principal Investigator

Daniel Rijo

Period

2017 - ...

Funding

EPIS/Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (EPIS-FCG/PinhalDeFuturo2017)

 

This project aims to assess the prevalence of trauma related disorders in children and adolescents (aged 6 to 18 years old) in the regions affected by forest fires during 2017. About 2800 children and adolescents will be included. A computer assisted screening tool has been developed and psychologists will assess children and their families in order to detect cases with relevant symptomatology. Further clinical intervention will be provided to children in need of psychological treatment. Treatment effects on stress related symptoms, emotional regulation, quality of life and school achievement will be assessed during and after intervention. Both the computer assisted screening tool and the intervention handbook will be available at the end of the project and will work as resources for similar interventions in the future.

Changeability of psychopathic traits in young offenders: Outcomes from a compassion-based psychotherapeutic intervention

Principal Investigator

Daniel Rijo

Period

2016 - ...

Funding

FCT/COMPETE 2020 (PTDC/MHC-PCL/2189/2014)

 

This research project aims to investigate the changeability of psychopathic traits in young offenders placed in juvenile detention facilities.

First studies include research on a new evolutionary based model, explaining psychopathic traits as an adaptive strategy to cope with harsh rearing life-scenarios. Early toxic experiences (including shame experiences and the lack of warmth and safeness experiences), through the promotion of intense shame feelings later in live and preferred maladaptive shame coping strategies are proposed as the pathways for the development of psychopathic traits. This model will be tested both in community and forensic samples.

A 20-session compassion based therapeutic intervention will be developed to fit these offenders intervention needs. Finally, a randomized control trial will be implemented in order to test for treatment effects across time on psychopathic traits, shame related variables and the development of compassion towards the self and others.

This project will have implications both at a theoretical level (testing for a new model explaining psychopathy in youths; establishing compassion focused therapy as an appropriate treatment within juvenile justice settings), and at a clinical level, offering a new structured psychotherapeutic intervention to be delivered to youths with severe behavioral problems.

Assessment and therapeutic intervention program for the Portuguese Juvenile Justice system

Principal Investigator

Daniel Rijo

Period

2011 - 2013

Funding

European Commission (JLS /2010/JPEN/AG/EJ)

 

Assessment and therapeutic intervention program for the Portuguese Juvenile Justice system (PAIPA) was a partnership between the General Directorship for Rehabilitation and Prison Services of the Portuguese Ministry of Justice, the CINEICC at the University of Coimbra and other governmental agencies (e.g., National Health Services). The main goal was to investigate young offenders mental health intervention needs in youth placed in juvenile detention facilities but also in youth receiving juvenile justice interventions within community based settings. More than 200 randomly selected participants were assessed via a structured clinical interview for children and adolescents (MINI-KID) and brief psychotherapeutic intervention was offered to 20 youth in an exploratory study. This project offered training to psychologists working within the juvenile justice system in innovative psychological interventions to be delivered to those youths. This research project contributed to a greater attention to young offenders’ mental health treatment needs.

GPS – Growing Pro-Social, a prevention and rehabilitation program for individuals with antisocial behavior: Efficacy studies in forensic samples

Principal Investigator

Daniel Rijo

Period

2011 - 2013

Funding

FCT Project (PTDC/PSI-PCL/102165/2008)

 

The GPS – Growing Pro-Social, is a group based prevention and rehabilitation program for individuals with anti-social behavior. The main goal of the GPS is to reduce the prominence of dysfunctional information processing structures, promoting a more functional processing of social information, with the consequent adjustment of emotional, motivational and behavioural patterns. To achieve this effect, the program is made of 40 sessions, organized into five modules: Communication Process, Interpersonal Behaviour, Thinking Errors (cognitive distortions), Emotions Meaning and Function, and Life Traps (Early Maladaptive Schemas).The main goal of this research project was to study the efficacy of the GPS in the reduction of anti-social behaviour and cognitive and emotional correlates, in two different samples: adolescents under a corrective educational measure and adult prison inmates. In both samples, the experimental group was compared with a control group (TAU, Treatment As Usual in forensic settings). Finally, it was expected that desired changes after program completion should be maintained over time (6 months follow up measurement). Outcome research has been published in recent years and findings are still being disseminated. This Project offered support for the use of GPS as a cognitive-behavioral rehabilitation program in the Portuguese Justice System.

The hyperarousal hypothesis in psychophysiological insomnia. Study of default- mode network and its modification after CBT

Principal Investigator

Daniel Ruivo Marques

Period

2012 - 2015

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/77557/2011)

 

Primary Insomnia is the more prevalent sleep disorder both in clinical and community samples. One of the most frequent subtypes is psychophysiological insomnia (PI). The hyperarousal at different levels – biological, affective, cognitive, and behavioral – and the maladaptive conditioning between sleep related stimuli and arousal are two major features of PI. Since this is a disorder which assumes an important role in public health, we performed 4 empirical studies recurring to fMRI: In the first study, we compared neurobiological activation between a group of PI patients (n=5) and a sex- and age-matched control group (n=5) when they were exposed to words concerning to past/present worries, future worries and neutral words; in the second study, we explored the activity of default-mode network (DMN) and other brain resting states in the same groups as study 1; in the third and fourth studies, we repeated both experiments in a clinical group of patients with PI (N=2) after they underwent cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). In general, it was observed that PI patients exhibited a generalized pattern of hyperarousal in several brain areas associated with DMN when they were confronted with affective stimuli and when they were resting in the fMRI scanner. In terms of activation of brain resting networks, we observed that the clinical group presented significant dysfunctions. After CBT-I, it was detected that the dysfunctional indicators observed in previous studies normalize, approaching the activation patterns typical of healthy individuals. The obtained results enhance the idea that the hyperarousal in PI is present during the 24-hours of the day; besides, the key role that cognitive arousal may be in the etiology and therapy of insomnia is also highlighted. In conclusion, this work contributes to a better understanding of neurobiology of insomnia and suggests that it might be possible to identify neural mechanisms underlying modifications accounted by CBT-I.

http://hdl.handle.net/10773/16787

The Mindful and Compassionate Parenting Training for Parents of Babies (MCPT-Baby): Development and feasibility and efficacy study of a group intervention

Principal Investigator

Daniela Fernandes

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/132588/2017)

 

The transition to parenthood is a period of major adjustment for parents that encompasses several developmental tasks with multilevel demands and reorganizations and psychological and emotional challenges. Such changes could interfere with parenting and the ability to form a secure attachment relationship with the child, which can have negative consequences on child development and parental mental health and may lead to a low perception of parental skills and development of depressive/anxious symptomatology. Therefore, psychological interventions aimed at helping parents adjust better to the postpartum period and develop adaptive parenting skills are essential and much needed. However, psychological interventions for the postpartum period typically focus on the mother and on her current symptomatology, failing to consider the parent-baby relationship and to provide parents skills they can use in the present and in the long term to better regulate their emotions in parenting.

In this project we aim to overcome these limitations and develop an intervention focused on the parenting relationship and on the promotion of protective psychological resources (mindfulness and self-compassion) that can help parents adapt better to the postpartum period, establish a secure relationship with the baby, and develop a mindful and compassionate approach in parenting that extends beyond this period.

Local or Global? The effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in brain processing

Principal Investigator

Daniela Valério

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/137737/2018)

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has a widespread use in basic and clinical research. Recently, the efficacy of tDCS was challenged, due to a lack of understanding how the tDCS works at the systems level. In this project, I will address this issue and propose to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study three properties of the tDCS effects: that tDCS effects are distal, flexible and additive. Specifically: 1) Are there distal effects of tDCS that influence the flow and configuration of networks? (Experiment 1); 2) Can we apply tDCS to a node that is shared between two networks and affect a particular network leaving other(s) unaffected? (Experiment 2); 3) Can we apply tDCS to two nodes and have the effects converge additively in a distal but connected node? (Experiment 3). This project will have a great impact on the use of tDCS in clinical and basic research.

Mask of sanity or mask of invulnerability?The evolutionary perspective of psychopathy in adolescence and the changeability of psychopathic traits in young offenders after psychotherapeutic intervention

Principal Investigator

Diana Ribeiro da Silva

Period

2015 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/99795/2014)

 

Psychopathy (i.e. the combination of grandiose-manipulative, callous-unemotional, and impulsive-irresponsible traits) is a condition highly associated with antisocial behavior and considered difficult to treat. However, few studies tested the efficacy of psychotherapeutic interventions specifically designed to treat young offenders with psychopathic traits. This research aims to: study psychopathic traits within an evolutionary framework; develop and test the efficacy of an individualized psychotherapeutic program based on Compassion Focused Therapy (20 sessions).

Borderline features in adolescence: Prospective study for the development of borderline personality disorder

Principal Investigator

Diogo Carreiras

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/129985/2017)

 

Literature indicates borderline personality disturbance (ppb) as a very severe disturbance and with serious characteristics like impulsivity, instability, emotional damage and self-damage. These characteristics have developed through time and can be identified soon in adolescence. The early signing of these difficulties is the first step in the prevention of development and / or escalation of these features for a personality disorder. In this sense, this study proposes to evaluate and adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17 years, for two years, contributing to the understanding of patoplasty and maintenance of the pbp, allowing to find guidelines for the design of psychotherapeutic interventions in the prevention and future empirical studies.

What defines an affordance? The diagnosticity of visual features for the differentiation of affordances

Principal Investigator

Dongha Lee

Period

2016 - ...

Funding

FCT Project (PTDC/MHC-PCN/6805/2014)

 

Distinct visual streams and sub-streams represent perceptual, semantic and motor-related information about manipulable objects. The exact neural correlates and cognitive mechanisms of these objects are still elusive. For instance, what are the diagnostic visual features, processed within the dorsal visual stream, that communicate an object’s afforded action? How is this affordance-related knowledge represented and how are affordances differentiated in the dorsal visual stream? Do such representations exist independently from object-specific semantic representations? Without an in-depth understanding of these issues, the field cannot progress much beyond the dissociation between crudely defined ventral and dorsal processing of objects. This issue is considered critical not only in object perception but also in the fundamental question regarding the role of motor representations in cognition in general. The project herein aims to advance our understanding of this issue by proposing 3 tasks. In these tasks we will combine psychophysics, transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA) and support vector machine (SVM) algorithms for classification, and representation similarity analysis (RSA).

Promoting maternal mental health: Applicability and effectiveness of an eHealth intervention for Portuguese postpartum women

Principal Investigator

Fabiana Monteiro

Period

2017 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/115585/2016)

 

Postpartum women who are not at an immediate risk of developing postpartum depression still face several challenges that may have a negative effect in their mental well-being, such as dealing with child care tasks, changes in marital and social relationships and transitioning back to work. E-mental health tools (e.g., web-based interventions) for mental health promotion (and consequently for disease prevention) can be delivered at a very low-cost and have long-term positive outcomes beyond the reduction of psychopathological symptoms, while also contributing to an efficient use of health services. In this context, this project aims to assess the applicability and effectiveness of a web-based intervention for the promotion of mental health of non-risk postpartum women. Post-intervention improvements and long-term effects on individual, marital and maternal outcomes will be considered, along with the web-based program’s feasibility and usability, users’ satisfaction, as well as its cost-effectiveness.

NetworktDCS / Unravelling systems level properties of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) – the case for distal, flexible and additive effects

Principal Investigator

Fredrik Bergström

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT project (PTDC/PSI-GER/30745/2017)

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is routinely used in basic and translational research, but its efficacy has been challenged. The issues against tDCS may derive from insufficient understanding of how tDCS works at the systems level. Because of the widespread use of tDCS, as well as the fact that the technique has the potential to be a central tool in the neurosciences, it is of the utmost importance to increase our understanding of the mechanisms of tDCS at the systems level. In our project will use functional magnetic resonance imaging to unravel three systems level properties of tDCS that may be central for understanding the full potential of this technique: 1) Are there distal effects of tDCS? 2) Are these effects functionally flexible? 3) Are these effects additive? This project will have a broad and durable impact on our understanding of tDCS, and will boost the spectrum of possible applications of technique in basic and translational research.

Unravelling systems level properties of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) - the case for distal, flexible and additive effects

Principal Investigator

Fredrik Bergström

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT Scientific Employment Stimulus (CEECIND/03661/2017)

Family dynamics in pediatric chronic health conditions

Principal Investigator

Helena Moreira

Period

2011 - 2017

Funding

FCT Individual Post-Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BPD/70063/2010)

Synchronise clocks, improve learning: Morning-evening types, time-of-day and performance on school-age children

Principal Investigator

Hugo Miguel Cruz

Period

2013 - 2018

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/86577/2012)

 

This dissertation describes three studies that were conducted in order to analyze the relationship between morning-evening types in interaction with the time-of-day performance in school-age children. Using a double-blind experimental design Morning [MT] and Evening [ET] Types children classified according to the Children Chronotype Questionnaire (CCQT) were tested in randomly assigned at different times-of-day, and completed a battery of tests related to basic learning skills (BPE, BAPAE, ALEPE). Significant results (p<.05) show that: (i) the “synchrony effect” may be a simplistic hypothesis, i.e., depending on the type of cognitive task involved, MT and ET performance may benefit not only from optimal – synchrony effect, but also from its non-optimal moments – asynchrony effect; (ii) M-E Types performance not only varies throughout the time-of-day, but also, it seems to vary throughout the day-of-week; (iii) in young children Eveningness seems to be associated with better cognitive abilities performed, and Morningness seems to be associated with better academic achievement; (iv) better performances are not necessarily associated to early hours of the school day; (v) Tuesday and Thursday may be an optimal day and Friday a non-optimal day for the school performance. Replication studies are now needed.

Emotion regulation and chronic illness: The roles of acceptance, mindfulness, and compassion in physical and mental health

Principal Investigator

Inês Trindade

Period

2015 - 2018

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/101906/2014)

 

This PhD project had two main aims: a) to prospectively analyse the impact of emotion regulation processes (e.g., experiential avoidance/acceptance, cognitive fusion) on physical and mental health outcomes in patients with chronic health conditions (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease; cancer); b) and to develop, apply, and assess the efficacy of an acceptance, mindfulness, and compassion-based psychotherapeutic intervention for cancer patients – the MIND programme.

Dispositional traits and personal projects. The dialogue between the “having” and the “doing” of personality in the production of teachers’ well-being

Principal Investigator

Isabel Albuquerque

Period

2008 - 2014

Funding

Ministry of Education (Doctoral Individual Grant)

 

The aim of this research was to explore the relationship between personality variables and well-being. Specifically, we investigated the direct effect of five personality factors and their facets, as well as of personal projects, on subjective well-being components and psychological well-being dimensions. Moreover, we explored whether personal projects have a mediator and/or moderator role on the relationship between the five factors of personality and the two well-being varieties; and whether personal projects have specific linkages with subjective and psychological well-being.

Psychotherapeutic change process: Empirical validation of the assimilation of problematic experiences model

Principal Investigator

Isabel Basto

Period

2012 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/77180/2011)

 

Throughout the years, psychotherapy research has tried to understand how psychological change occurs and which mechanisms are involved in this process, but there are still many questions with no answer about how psychotherapy works. The assimilation model proposes that therapeutic change occurs trough the gradual assimilation of problematic experiences/voices in the self. Several empirical studies have found an association between assimilation and good outcome. However, more empirical evidence is needed to validate this assumption. This project aims to respond to this need by analyzing 1) whether there is a predictive relationship between assimilation and clinical symptomatology and the direction of this prediction. 2) What is the relationship between assimilation and emotional valence 3) What is the role of instability in assimilation in the decrease of clinical symptoms and in the assimilation progression throughout therapy.   

A study on the impact of training slimming world Consultants in compassion focused approaches for shame and self-criticism

Principal Investigator

James Stubbs

Period

2014 - ...

Funding

Slimming World (ISRCTN registration no. ISRCTN16873876)

 

This project examined whether adding compassionate mind training-based online video exercises in a commercial weight-management programme improved psychological and behavioural outcomes, compared to the regular programme, in a large sample of overweight and obese women.

Advanced statistical methods to evaluate complex processes: The case of emotional regulation - Different contexts and expressions, the same processes?

Principal Investigator

Joana Costa

Period

2012 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Post-Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BPD/78227/2011)

 

The main research interest focus on the analysis of mediational effects of emotional regulation processes, specifically cognitive fusion, rumination, acceptance, self-compassion and mindfulness, using advanced statistical methods to data analysis. Indeed, the research aim to identify and, to deep understand, trans-diagnostic relationship processes that may enhance psychological adjustment and psychopathology (e.g., anxiety, depression, stress) taking into account temperamental traits and adverse family environments. This research is based in several clinical conditions both mental and physical health groups, such as chronic pain, diabetes, hypertension, oncologic disease, obesity, depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal disease, involving more than 1200 individuals.

Self-care to care: Group program based on mindfulness and compassion for informal caregivers of individuals with mood disorders

Principal Investigator

Joana Moura Cabral

Period

2015 - ...

Funding

Governo Regional dos Açores (PhD Individual Grant RTF / M3.1.a / F / 021/2015/017)

 

The research intends to develop a structured group intervention program for caregivers of patients with mood disorders, based on mindfulness and compassion.  The key objective is the development of adaptive emotional regulation skills, which can be alternatives to maladjusted processes that generate suffering to the caregiver and are reflected in the health status of the patient with mood pathology. At this moment the program is under construction and development.

Contentotopic mapping: the topographical organization of object knowledge in the brain

Principal Investigator

Jorge Almeida

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

ERC Starting Grant 2018 – 802553 ContentMAP

Our ability to recognize an object amongst many others is one of the most important features of the human mind. However, object recognition requires tremendous computational effort, as we need to solve a complex and recursive environment with ease and proficiency. This challenging feat is dependent on the implementation of an effective organization of knowledge in the brain. In ContentMAP I will put forth a novel understanding of how object knowledge is organized in the brain, by proposing that this knowledge is topographically laid out in the cortical surface according to object-related dimensions that code for different types of representational content – I will call this contentotopic mapping. To study this fine-grain topography, I will use a combination of fMRI, behavioral, and neuromodulation approaches. I will first obtain patterns of neural and cognitive similarity between objects, and from these extract object-related dimensions using a dimensionality reduction technique. I will then parametrically manipulate these dimensions with an innovative use of a visual field mapping technique, and test how functional selectivity changes across the cortical surface according to an object’s score on a target dimension. Moreover, I will test the tuning function of these contentotopic maps. Finally, to mirror the complexity of implementing a high-dimensional manifold onto a 2D cortical sheet, I will aggregate the topographies for the different dimensions into a composite map, and develop an encoding model to predict neural signatures for each object. To sum up, ContentMAP will have a dramatic impact in the cognitive sciences by describing how the stuff of concepts is represented in the brain, and providing a complete description of how fine-grain representations and functional selectivity within high-level complex processes are topographically implemented.

Retinotopic reorganization of the auditory cortex of congenitally deaf individuals due to neuroplascticity

Principal Investigator

Jorge Almeida

Period

2013 - 2016

Funding

BIAL Foundation (BIAL Grant 2012/112)

 

This project focused on understanding how the brain can plastically change as a response to congenital deafness. In particular, we were interested in understanding: 1) whether and how the auditory cortex of the congenitally deaf processed information from the spared senses – and specifically visual input; 2) How that sensory (visual) was organized in the auditory cortex, if at all; and 3) how did that information reached the auditory cortex. That is, how did neuroplasticity change the auditory cortex (and other structures) of the congenitally deaf so that it processes information from different senses.

Object recognition and conceptual information about objects: independence and interdependency

Principal Investigator

Jorge Almeida

Period

2011 - 2014

Funding

FCT Project (PTDC/PSI-PCO/114822/2009)

 

Our sensory systems are constantly stimulated by the surrounding environment. At any given moment, a visually perceived scene triggers a series of cascading processes that analyze the incoming input. Many different types of information are processed in parallel and, after a couple hundred milliseconds, become available for scrutiny. This (seemingly) informational overload has to be address by the cognitive system in the process of performing its high-level cognitive tasks. A central question in the cognitive sciences, then, concerns the role of these different types of information on object recognition and their status as part of the conceptual representation of a particular object. How do these different types of information feature in object recognition? And how are they integrated, if at all, in the conceptual representation of the visual inspected object? Here we addressed these questions by manipulating different kinds of object-related information, and the time allotted to their processing, in the context of experimental procedures that tap into object recognition processes. We primarily used the category of manipulable objects and the knowledge types associated with this domain of objects in our experimental procedures. We did it so because these items afford a large number of different types of information, because the neural underpinnings of the processing of these items have been widely studied and are relatively well known, and because these neural substrates point to specific anatomical regions/knowledge type interactions.

Object Metrics: Mapping and modelling of the topographic organization of the object-selective cortex by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging and graph theory

Principal Investigator

Jorge Almeida

Period

2015 - 2017

Funding

CRUP-DAAD (Project A02/16)

 

The importance of understanding the organization of conceptual knowledge and object recognition becomes apparent when dealing with patients suffering from category-specific knowledge disorders such as relatively selective knowledge impairments for animate objects (e.g. animals), or relatively selective impairments for manmade, inanimate objects (e.g. tools). When looking at brain damaged patients in more detail, it turns out that conceptual knowledge is organized according to domain-specific constraints which is supported by results from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in healthy subjects. We know that particular brain areas are activated by particular object classes, such as tools, faces, body parts and places. However, little is known about the neural response preferences and cortical organizational principles that form the brain’s detailed representation of these objects. This is especially true when compared to our understanding of the neural representation of sensory information. Sensory cortices hold topo-graphically ordered maps that directly reflect the organization of our sensory organs, such as the retina (retinotopic visual field maps), the cochlea (auditory tonotopic maps) or the skin (somatotopic maps). Are similar organizational principles also common to object-selective cortex? In this project, we aim at investigating topographic organization within object-selective areas using fMRI for understanding the neural principles that shape the organization of conceptual knowledge. We will do so by explore the organizational principles within a domain of knowledge – that of manmade objects. We will model the network of topographic organization within object-selective areas using methods based on graph theory to get more insights into network structure and network shaping.

Object Metrics – A organização neuronal do conhecimento relativo a objectos

Principal Investigator

Jorge Almeida

Period

2016 - ...

Funding

FCT Project (PTDC/MHC-PCN/0522/2014)

 

One of the most remarkable human abilities is that of recognizing complex objects in a fraction of a second. A question that is central to our understanding of object recognition is how this knowledge is represented and organized in the brain such that we can use it so efficiently. Although we have uncovered the dimensions that underlie the topographical organization of sensory cortices, we have not come up with a satisfactory set of dimensions that can be the principle of functional organization within object-selective cortex. In fact, this is one of the hard problems in cognitive neuroscience because it is not obvious what the dimensions that drive this organization are. In this project, we will focus on uncovering these principles by examining, in innovative ways, how object knowledge is organized in the brain, and how cognitive relationships between objects and object properties are mapped.

How low-level segregation within the visual system impacts high-level object recognition

Principal Investigator

Jorge Almeida

Period

2013 - 2015

Funding

FCT Project (PTDC/MHC-PCN/3575/2012)

 

A long tradition in vision research points to the existence of multiple visual pathways that process different features of the incoming input. This segregation begins at the retina, where different types of ganglion cells can be distinguished by their patterns of dendritic arborization, and the types of visual stimuli that are most effective in exciting them. Those distinctions are carried forward to subcortical and cortical levels as different channels within the visual system. The most salient distinction is between magnocellular (M) and parvocellular (P) channels within the visual system, which receive their input from parasol and midget ganglion cells, respectively. The existence of different channels within the visual system places strong constraints on the types of information to which we are sensitive in our environment, both during online processing as well as on an evolutionary timescale. The central question that we want to address is whether the signatures of low-level segregation within the visual system affect the organization of high-level object representations. The novel insight we explore is that processing of different categories or classes of objects differentially depends on (or differentially weights) input from different low-level visual pathways. To test this hypothesis, we use fMRI as an index of neural activity and psychophysically titrated images of real objects as stimuli. This approach of seeking to understand high-level object recognition through the lens of low-level visual constraints is largely unexplored, but we believe it to be an incredibly fertile enterprise for understanding the neural constraints that shape object knowledge.

Inhibitory processing in the aging brain: Disentangling the effects of age, chronotype, time of day and executive control

Principal Investigator

José Leitão

Period

2016 - 2018

Funding

BIAL Foundation Fellowship Programme (PT/FB/BL-2014-234)

 

Inhibition prevents irrelevant information from intruding on ongoing goal-directed processes and is essential for successful completion of many daily tasks. Normal aging allegedly induces a loss of its efficiency. However, four factors crucial for an appropriately disentangled and fine-grained account of this effect tend to be neglected: (1) the degree of executive control required to deploy the inhibitory process; (2) the degree of match between the individual’s morning/evening optimal-functioning type (Chronotype, CT) and the time of day (ToD) when the task is executed, yielding the so-called “synchrony effect”; (3) the interaction (1) x (2), i.e. that between the degree of executive control required by the task and the synchrony effect; (4) in association with designs that consider any of the previous factors, the use of measurement techniques suitable for probing the relation between performance parameters (reaction time (RTs), correct/incorrect responses) and the brain processes underlying the observed variance in those parameters (e.g. Event Related Brain Potentials (ERPs), functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

Studies conducted by members of our team [2] have already explored the moderating impact of (1) on age-related inhibition changes. Controlled inhibition was shown to be hindered by aging, while automatic inhibition, when probed by means of negative priming (NP), seems impervious to this effect. This line of research poses the question of determining whether the effect of aging upon controlled inhibition is direct or mediated. A strong candidate for such a mediating factor is (2), i.e., an increased age-associated sensitivity of frontal processes, such as executive control, to the synchrony effect. In spite of this, studies of aging effects upon inhibition that appropriately include (2) in their design are rare. Another question raised by this previous research from our team pertains to the use of NP (a residual after effect of previous inhibition of task-irrelevant information) as a means to probe automatic inhibition: As an after effect, NP may reflect features of the original inhibitory event, which may itself have been automatic or controlled, and, in this latter case, could result in augmented NP when the required executive control is more effortful (e.g. when performed by older participants under CT/ToD asynchrony). Tackling these questions would require a design appropriately incorporating (3). Aging studies designed to investigate this higher level interaction, (3), or that incorporate (4), are, to the best of our knowledge, inexistent.  We have therefore designed a study of aging effects tailored to probe (3), comparing the mediating effect of CT/ToD (as)synchrony upon age-related differences in negative priming (NP) resulting from automatic or controlled inhibition.

All participants will perform two ERP eliciting tasks, one probing NP resulting from automatic inhibition (a yes/no word-picture matching task, containing yes-yes trial-sequences featuring the subdominant meaning of an ambiguous word followed by its

dominant meaning, previously inhibited), the other probing NP resulting from controlled inhibition (a spatial stroop task, in which the left/right location of an arrow has to be ignored and its pointing direction determines which hand-held switch should be pressed, featuring trials that require the previously inhibited right/left switch press to be effected). Young and older participants will be selected in order to obtain an identical number of morning and evening chronotypes (30 of each chronotype in each age group, for a total of 120 participants). Each age/chronotype subgroup will be split in two 15-participants conditions by randomly assigning a time of participation that either matches or mismatches the participants’ chronotype.

This design will probe the overall hypothesis that aging impacts frontal inhibition-control processes differently from non-frontal inhibitory circuitry. Specifically, we hypothesize that (I) the impact of aging upon controlled inhibition mostly reflects increased sensitivity of executive control to circadian rhythms, in particular to the synchrony effect; (II) the impact of aging upon the functional integrity of non-frontal inhibitory circuitry, as reflected in automatic inhibition, results in intrinsic and irretrievable changes in this circuitry, and therefore should not show modulations resulting from the synchrony effect.

Both performance (RTs and proportion of correct responses) and ERP data will be analyzed. With respect to the latter, N200 and P300 components are expected to reflect NP modulations, respectively indexing conflict detection and conflict resolution caused by residual inhibition in NP trials. The use of dense array electroencephalography (64 electrodes), will further allow us to explore the brain locations associated with the detected ERP effects. To this end we will use the sLORETA source localization algorithm.

https://www.bial.com/pt/fundacao_bial.11/apoios.18/edicoes_anteriores.74/apoios_2014.a490.html

Carry On: Estudo das necessidades psicossociais dos doentes oncológicos da Região Autónoma dos Açores-Proposta de um modelo de suporte

Principal Investigator

José Pinto-Gouveia

Period

2012 - ...

Funding

Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES; BEX Process number 0514/12-8)

 

This project aims to test integrative conceptual models of binge eating psychopathology (simultaneously in Brazil and Portugal) in order to investigate if these models are invariant across different cultures.

BEfree: An Intervention Group Program for Binge Eating Disorder

Principal Investigator

José Pinto-Gouveia

Period

2013 - 2015

Funding

FCT Project (PTDC/MHC-PCL/4923/2012)

 

BEfree is the first program integrating psychoeducation, mindfulness, and compassion-based components for treating women with binge eating and obesity. Research has provided evidence of the acceptability and effectiveness of BEfree program to diminishing binge eating, eating psychopathology and depression, and increasing quality of life in women with Obesity, with results maintained up to 6-month post-intervention.

http://www.uc.pt/en/fpce/research/CINEICC/interventionprograms/BEfree

Efficacy of Contextual Behavioral Therapies in Bipolar Disorder – A randomized controlled pilot trial

Principal Investigator

Julieta Azevedo

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/130116/2017)

 

Bipolar disorder (BD) is a serious mental disorder characterized by episodes of mania/hypomania and depression. Compared to the general population, these individuals present functional impairment, higher mood instability and suicide rates and lower quality of life. This study aims to explore evolutionary variables and their contribution to reframe conceptualization and treatment of BD; explore emotional memories and coping mechanisms and their influence in bipolar symptoms; and assess contextual behavioral therapies (DBT skills training, MBCT) efficiency in BD.

Affiliative mentality in youth residential care: Delivery and outcome studies of a compassionate mind training program with caregivers

Principal Investigator

Laura Santos

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/132327/2017)

 

Given the absence of evidence-based programs of competences promotion for caregivers of young people in residential care, this research aims to improve the quality of care, through a Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) intervention aimed at caregivers. The promotion of an affiliative mentality of caring, warmth and affection in the residential care setting is operationalized in the development of compassionate caring skills, being this project an innovative approach for the creation of therapeutic environments, as recommended by the Portuguese law and international guidelines. The presented clinical trial aim to evaluate the results and impact of the CMT program on the quality of caregivers’ care processes and practices, helping to broaden the scientific knowledge of the compassionate approach to the Residential Care setting and to provide a new model and intervention tool for the Residential Care.

Interactions between ventral and dorsal streams – the case of hands and tools

Principal Investigator

Lénia Amaral

Period

2017 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/114811/2016)

 

Decoding the properties and successfully recognizing and interacting with a target object is supported by a set of segregated structures in the visual system.  The most prominent are the dorsal visual stream and the ventral visual stream. Here, I will explore how these streams interact and process particular categories of objects – hands and tools. The proposed project encompasses two workpackages that will focus on different aspects of visual objet processing. I plan to use both psychophysical experiments on the categorization of hands and tools, as well as use neuromodulation (tDCS/TMS) and fMRI paradigms.

Projeto Im2 – Intervir Mais, Intervir Melhor

Principal Investigator

Leonor Carvalho

Period

2014 - 2016

Funding

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Cidadania Activa Program B11-200362)

 

This project, funded by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (FCG), was promoted by the Portuguese National Association of Early Intervention (ANIP) in partnership with the National System of Early Intervention (SNIPI), and with the support of the University of Aveiro, the national Association Pais em Rede and the work of several experts in the field of early intervention, linked to different Portuguese universities. It also counted on the international counseling from the European Association on Early Childhood Intervention (Eurlyaid) and the International Society on Early Intervention (ISEI).

The main goal of Im2 was to increase the effectiveness and quality of early childhood intervention services, aimed at families and children up to six years old, thus providing a common frame of reference to professionals in this area.

Its main actions were the creation and dissemination of a best practices manual including the recommended practices for the field of early intervention in the Portuguese context, as well as carrying out specialized training actions directed at the professionals working in early intervention, all over the regions in Portugal.

Processing underpinnings of executive functions across adulthood: The interplay of cognitive control and inhibition

Principal Investigator

Luís Pires

Period

2011 - 2017

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/70011/2010)

 

Introduction

Executive Functions (EF) are a set of “higher-level” cognitive functions that allow quick shifts of mindset, necessary to adapt our behaviour to a wide range of life situations. There are several EF, each often involving several subsidiary processes. This EF system supports planning, coordinating, sequencing, and monitoring of other cognitive operations. Deficits in EF are usually found in the elderly population, playing a key role as mediators of age-related changes in non-executive functions (nEF), such as memory and language. These deficits in EF are apparently selective rather than generalized: EF relying on the recruitment of automatic processes are less affected by ageing than processes relying on higher levels of cognitive control. In order to examine the nature of EF and the ageing impact upon these functions, we conducted a series of studies at two levels of analysis: the structural level and the processing level. At the structural level, we addressed the problem of the existence of a unitary EF, and the alternative to this view, that different EF do interact systematically, but without relying on a central EF “regulator” of some sort. At the processing level, we analysed the processing steps involved in the recruitment and implementation of cognitive control in a conflict task.

Methods

EF structure and age-related changes: We used a neuropsychological assessment battery comprising nine tests that theoretically assess EF, nEF pertaining to verbal abilities (VA), and processing speed (PS). We collected data from ninety young adults and used confirmatory factor analysis to examine the internal structure of the battery. We also studied the relation between EF, VA and PS. To study possible age-related changes in EF and nEF, we administered a neuropsychological battery to twenty young adults and twenty older adults. A review of the current literature on EF and ageing, with an emphasis on neuropsychological assessment, guided the selection of the nine tests. EF processing and age-related changes: We conducted four experiments using a spatial Stroop task, (i) three of them scrutinizing the nature of the control processes deployed to resolve response-conflict, and one (ii) contrasting the implementation of the conflict-resolving control setup in younger and older adults. The spatial Stroop task employed in all studies was designed after a review of the numerous paradigms and methods used in inhibitory control studies. In this review, we focused on studies that used the high temporal resolution of the event-related potential (ERP) technique to identify the time-course of different processes involved in the implementation of inhibitory control. We found that some paradigms, like the Stroop paradigm, are more appropriate to study control processes than others (e.g., the Go-Nogo). These cognitive control paradigms could be expected to mostly recruit controlled processes, but in fact the latter co-occur and interact with automatic processes. In order to analyse this interplay, we studied cognitive control in two different, yet closely related, manifestations in a spatial Stroop task: the interference effect and the congruency sequence effects. In our task, participants responded to the left/right direction of an arrow, while ignoring its left/right position in a computer screen. The arrow’s direction and position could be congruent (C) or incongruent (IC). (i) To study the processing underpinnings of cognitive control, we conducted a set of three experiments, designed to contrast two theoretical views pertaining to the nature of those processes, the Prediction of Response-Outcome (PRO) theory and the Conflict Monitoring Theory (CMT). In Experiment 1, we collected data from thirty seven young adults to analyse the effect of the trial n-1 congruency type on an nth C trial. In Experiment 2, we collected data from thirty two young adults to analyse the effect of the trial n-1 congruency type on an nth position-only trial (PO; participants must respond to the left/right position of a circle). In Experiment 3, we collected data from thirty six young adults to analyse the effect of the trial n-1 congruency type on an nth IC trial. (ii) To investigate age-related modulations of the interplay between the controlled and automatic processes involved in cognitive control processing, performance in the spatial Stroop task was contrasted in younger and older adults. The interference effect in IC trials as well as the effect of trial n-1 congruency type on a nth C trial were analysed. The young and older adults participants in this study were the same that participated in the ageing study, mentioned in the EF Structure and age-related changes section.

Results

EF structure and age-related changes: We found that a three-correlated-factor model (EF, VA and PS) was the most suitable for our data. EF and PS were related but separable functions, whereas the EF and VA factors were unrelated. Concerning the cognitive ageing study we found that older adults’ performance was inferior to young adults’ performance in only twelve of the twenty six neuropsychological measures analysed. These age-related deficits are mainly explained by cognitive slowing and/or by inhibition deficits. There were no age-related deficits in the other fourteen measures that included both EF and nEF. EF processing and age-related changes: Our results showed that PRO can better predict our participants’ performance than CMT. According to PRO, cognitive control is recruited in the presence of conflict, when multiple responses are available. The action plans yielding responses with an unacceptable cost (e.g., high error probability) are suppressed, leaving only the most appropriate action plan available. This enables the selection of the appropriate response, leading to conflict resolution. Concerning age-related modulations, our results revealed a generalized slowing that interacted with conflict resolution, yielding a larger interference effect for older adults. Despite this generalized slowing, the accuracy rates were similar in young and older adults, suggesting that with ageing, the implementation of cognitive control to resolve conflict becomes slower, but remains effective. Concerning the congruency sequence effects, older adults were slower than young adults in all conditions. However, we did not find any differences between the age groups in respect to the pattern found for the congruency sequence effects.

Conclusions

Taken together, our results support the diverse nature of EF. At the structural level, some EF tasks rely more on nEF and PS than others. Also, for an adequate performance in EF tasks designed to single-out one specific EF, multiple EF are in fact recruited. EF tasks less reliant on PS or on inhibition seem to be less affected by ageing. At the processing level, top-down processes are recruited in the presence of conflict for the computation and valuation of the multiple expected outcomes. Then, automatic processes, including both inhibition and enhancement processes, seem to play a key role in the cognitive control implementation. These automatic processes, as manifest in congruency sequence effects, are minimally affected by ageing. As for the controlled processes that are responsible for the implementation of control, it remains as an open question to what extent their age-related decline does not merely reflect a generalized reduction in PS.

Be Compassionately Aware: Development and efficacy study of a (self-)compassion and mindfulness-based intervention on mental well-being, epigenetic processes and physiological stress responses in diverse populations

Principal Investigator

Marcela Matos

Period

2013 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Post-Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BPD/84185/2012)

 

This research project aims to develop, implement and assess the efficacy of a compassion and mindfulness based intervention program: the Be Compassionately Aware (BeCA), in promoting mental and physical well-being in individuals from the general population, pregnant women and corporative staff; investigate the genetic sensitivity to and physiological correlates of shame and shame experiences; test the impact of the BeCA on epigenetic mechanisms and physiological stress responses to psychosocial stress; and examine mediator and moderator processes of change associated with the effectiveness of the BeCA.

Compassionate Schools: Development and efficacy study of a compassion based intervention to promote teachers and children wellbeing

Principal Investigator

Marcela Matos

Period

2017 - ...

Funding

Compassionate Mind Foundation Research Funding

 

The main aim of the present research project is to develop, implement and test the efficacy of a compassion based schools program in teachers and in children from elementary schools. The teachers’ compassionate schools intervention is  a 6-week group program that aims at improving hear-rate variability and promoting compassion, empathy, mindfulness, engagement, wellbeing and mental health indicators and at reducing fears of compassion, self and other criticism, negative affect, demotivation and burnout.

Cultivating your ideal compassionate self: A randomized control trial of a compassion imagery intervention

Principal Investigator

Marcela Matos

Period

2014 - ...

Funding

Compassionate Mind Foundation Research Funding

 

This research project aimed at developing a protocol for a relatively brief (two weeks) Compassion Mind Training (CMT) intervention that provided psycho-educational materials and audio CMT exercises. This study aimed to test this CMT intervention in a randomized controlled trial exploring its impact on self-report variables including compassion, fears of compassion, shame, self-criticism, self-reassurance, types of positive affect, and depression, anxiety and stress. In addition, the current study aimed to investigate the impact of this CMT intervention on Heart Rate Variability. This study also explored indicators of practice quality of the brief CMT intervention and their impact on the development of an inner sense of one’s compassionate self and a range of self-report measures. Finally, this study examined the processes of change that mediate the impact of the CMT intervention on self-evaluative processes, and negative and positive affect.

Projet'Ar-te: Challenging the change at the residential care system

Principal Investigator

Maria do Rosário Pinheiro

Funding

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

 

Projet’Ar-te is a structured psychosocial and socioeducational intervention, aimed at young people in residential care. It aims to promote the autonomy of young people, during and after the residential care. Organized on a multilevel model, it articulates a program for the promotion of emotional regulation (Level I), a personal and social skills program (Level II) and an innovative support and accompaniment follow-up structure (Level III).

Educating for a positive body image: A programme for the promotion of girls’ psychological flexibility and compassion

Principal Investigator

Maria Joana Simões

Period

2017 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/120095/2016)

 

Disordered body and eating attitudes and behaviours, widespread among Western societies’ females, are known to entail severe consequences on well-being and health. These attitudes and behaviours are highly prevalent in female adolescents, and seem to emerge from a critical relationship with one’s own appearance and as a body-concealing behaviour, which may induce the onset of clinically significant eating disorders.

A balanced, caring and protective relationship with body image may be understood as emerging from a self-accepting and compassionate attitude. The main aim of this study is to develop and test the effectiveness of a programme for the promotion of psychological flexibility and compassion (“#KindGirlsInACTion”), in the adoption of protective attitudes towards the body and in well-being levels, in teenage girls. This innovative integration of third generation models (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy) may constitute an important contribution for the comprehension and prevention of eating psychopathology in adolescent girls.

Compassion-focused therapy: Group intervention protocol for schizophrenia

Principal Investigator

Maria João Ruivo Martins

Period

2013 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/96092/2013)

 

The present project aims:

(1) To contribute to the development and validation of adequate assessment tools through the development and validation of a clinical interview for psychotic disorders based on the recovery model (Clinical Interview for Psychotic Disorders – CIPD); and the development and/or validation of self-report measures (Voices Acceptance and Action Scale; Delusions Scale and the Anti-Psychotic Medication Adherence Scale);

(2) To extend the understanding on processes underlying the development and maintenance of psychotic symptoms and their impact (e.g. fears of compassion, mindfulness, positive affect);

(3) To develop, implement and evaluate a new compassion-based group intervention for people with early psychosis – the Compassionate Approach to Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder (COMPASS).

Incredible Years for the promotion of mental health – Strengthening Portugal-Norway relations

Principal Investigator

Maria João Seabra-Santos

Period

2017 - 2017

Funding

EEA Grants – Public Health Initiatives - Funds for bilateral relations (PT06 – 51SM04)

 

Extension of the previously funded project “Incredible Years for the promotion of mental health” (PT06-51SM04), aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between Portugal and Norway, through networking and exchanges of experiences, transfer of knowledge and best practices, between promoters of the project and the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare / University of Tromso; joint dissemination of results.

Carry On: Estudo das necessidades psicossociais dos doentes oncológicos da Região Autónoma dos Açores-Proposta de um modelo de suporte

Principal Investigator

Marina Carreiro de Sousa

Period

2016 - ...

Funding

Fundo Regional da Ciência e Tecnologia do Governo Regional dos Açores (FRCT Individual Grant M3.1.a/F/031/2015)

 

The number of new cases of cancer in Azores and the transfer of oncological patients to mainland Portugal for specialized treatment raise concerns about psychological adaptation and suitable support care. Further studies regarding the lack of support interventions available to meet the needs of azorean oncological patients and survivors are required. The main objectives of this study are: 1) to evaluate psychosocial needs and other psychological adaptation variables among adult oncological survivors from the Azores; and 2), ensuing from objective 1), to develop a pilot study to test a model of support with a group of oncological patients from the Azores. Two studies will be performed. The first deals with objective 1) as described. Based on results obtained, a randomized control trial assessment, will be run to test a support model based on the Patient Advocacy Movement with oncological patients. The assessment protocol will be administrated three times: before and after the model´s implementation and, again, as a follow-up. Results should enhance knowlegde of assessing psychological adaptation variables involved in disease trajectory while testing a support model addressing this study major concerns. These, as suggested, relate to lack of support interventions to meet the psychosocial needs of oncological patients and survivors from the Azores. Given the peculiar experience of azorean oncological patients’, while away from their homes, there is a need to ensure adequate health care services on their behalf. Hence, the importance of devising ways to monitor their psychosocial needs in order to overcome some of these constraints.

+Memória – Episodic memory enhancement in aging: The role of cognitive training combined with (bilateral) tDCS in the medial-temporal cortex and cerebellum on episodic memory performance in the elderly

Principal Investigator

Mário R. Simões

Period

2015 - 2017

Funding

BIAL Foundation (BIAL Grant 2014/495)

 

This project focuses on the combination of tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation) with cognitive training (CT) to investigate neuroplasticity in older adults and further explore the involvement of the cerebellar cortex in memory processes. In particular, we are interested in understanding whether and how tDCS combined with cognitive training facilitates verbal episodic memory in older adults, compared with sham stimulation. We used an innovative design to further explore the synergetic effects of CT combined with tDCS. Specifically, we tested whether CT and excitatory tDCS over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (lDLPFC) or right cerebellar cortex (rCC) facilitates verbal episodic memory, compared with sham stimulation and a wait list control group. CT was applied daily for 1 hour, after 20 minutes of tDCS, over 12 sessions. Performance on memory and other cognitive tasks was evaluated at baseline and post-intervention, using behavioral and neuroimaging tools. Participants were healthy elderly, ≥ 60 years, right handed, without history of neuropsychiatric disease.

Diybetes - personal management platform of Diabetes

Principal Investigator

Mário Zenha-Rela

Period

2013 - 2015

Funding

QREN/PO Centro (34006/2013)

 

The DIYbetes project developed a mobile application to be used by patients with type 2 diabetes for personal and personalized management of the disease. The goal of this solution was to serve as a ‘personal digital mentor’ in disease management by providing personalized and on-demand information, advice and recommendations using biometric information (activity, eating, mood, etc.) to adjust the feedback provided to the patient.

ACT.with.HEART: Development and evaluation of a brief behavioral program for the modification of cardiovascular risk factors and the maintenance of long term therapeutic improvements

Principal Investigator

Paola Lucena dos Santos

Period

2017 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/130677/2017)

This study aims to develop and test the efficacy of a brief lifestyle modification program (i.e., 6 sessions) for the modification of cardiovascular risk factors and the maintenance of therapeutic improvements over time (i.e., 24 months follow-up), through the promotion of psychological flexibility and self-compassion skills.

Relational aggression and fear of negative evaluation in adolescence

Principal Investigator

Paula Vagos

Period

2011 - 2016

Funding

FCT Individual Post-Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BPD/72299/2010)

The behavioral expression of relational aggression has been associated to the fear of negative evaluation, bringing out severe consequences to the intra and interpersonal functioning. However, the distinction between this scenario in relation to typical social anxiety, proactive aggressive behavior, and normal population, is still unclear. Likewise, the intervention programs for fear of negative evaluation may not be prepared to adequately responding to the needs of this specific group. The current research intends to fulfill this theoretical and practical gap. Firstly, by an inter-group design, adolescents will be differentiated based on reactive relational aggression and fear of negative evaluation, in relation to their cognition, emotion, behavior, socialization, and mental health. Secondly, an intervention protocol will be developed and then implemented, as well as its efficacy investigated towards this relationally aggressive and fearful adolescents. We hope to contribute to the understanding and therapeutic support provided to this uncharacteristic group, which is, because of that, neglected.

What works when treating adolescent social fears? Clinical outcomes and change processes when comparing second and third wave cognitive therapies

Principal Investigator

Paula Vagos

Period

2016 - 2017

Funding

FCT Individual Post-Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BPD/112383/2015)

We propose to compare the therapeutic efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy with acceptance and commitment therapy and compassion focused therapy, and of single behavior and cognitive therapy. Individual change in diagnostic criteria and self-report scores, along with mean group level change in self and other-reported symptomatology will be considered for each intervention in comparison with a control group, between multi-component interventions and between single-component interventions. All interventions are expected to decrease social fears and other associated variables, at post intervention and up to six months. Mediators of change (i.e., which variables mediate change in each specific intervention, and across time) will also be explored, as well as moderators of change (i.e., participants’ markers that may be relevant to the outcomes). Results will provide evidence on which form of intervention may be the optimal choice in general, leading to particular change processes which in turn target specific vulnerabilities associated to social fears.

Poetics of selfhood: Memory, imagination, and narrativity

Principal Investigator

Paulo Renato de Jesus

Period

2013 - 2015

Funding

FCT Project (PTDC/MHC-FIL/4203/2012)

The main goal of this Project consists in investigating how the narration imposes, by its rhetoric morphogenesis of self-coherence, both order and loss on lived experience. Thus, we propose a return of the hermeneutics of the self to the phenomenology of sensation, memory, imagination and symbolic experience, asking:

  1. What is the temporal geometry of events and feelings? How do random, discontinuous, multilinear and multidirectional events become the matter of biographical experience and expression? How do pathos and trauma, be it psychological or historical, (un)form time, consciousness, and narrative?
  2. What is the relationship between the sensorial layer of life, the autobiographical memory system and the narrative constructions? What is the degree of poiesis and mimesis in biographical writing? How does the Diltheyean triad Life-Expression-Understanding function?
  3. What is the relationship between memory, imagination and language in biography? Is memory essentially a subsystem of one’s imagination and will to meaning? And is imagination the subjective appropriation of the imaginary metanarratives of a semiotic community (codified e.g. in mythic-theological discourse)?
  4. What is the intentionality of a life history/story? Who are its writer, narrator, and actor? What is the relationship between life, art and truth? Is there truth in an ethical and aesthetic Self? What is narrative, historical, hermeneutical and performative truth?
  5. What is the ethical and political meaning of the Narrative Self? Does moral personality lie in narrative competence? Does responsibility consist in narratability? Does struggle for recognition translate into psychosocial internarrative conflict (being unnarratable experience confined in an apolitical and amoral realm)?

Methodologically, the integrated analysis of Biographical Selfhood should become a crossdisciplinary space shared by an international, interdisciplinary network of approx. 30 scholars from Philosophy, Literary Studies and Social Sciences (besides other collaborators and graduate students). Departing from a common set of issues and sharing the same philosophical references, the researchers—most of them already in collaboration before this project—will explore with multiple perspectives the limits and virtues of the narrative paradigm of subjectivity, promoting research seminars at various institutions in constant exchange (CFUL, EHESS, UFRJ, ULaval, UCLouvain, UParis3, UParis4, USP). The Seminars will be coordinated and integrated to fulfill joint research tasks requiring the implementation of a collective process of co-reading/writing, which leads to joint publications and organization of regular plenary meetings and conferences. Philosophy will offer analytical devices and formulate the theoretical hypotheses to be tested in the empirical laboratories of Literature and Social Sciences.

Cognitive-motivational determinants of career decision-making processes: Validation of a conceptual model

Principal Investigator

Pedro Cordeiro

Period

2010 - 2016

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/74193/2010)

We carried out a comprehensive study of the way as several contextual, cognitive and motivational variables combine to predict differentiated trajectories of career decision-making and adjustment in adolescents who are making the transition from high school to higher education/job market. With this purpose in mind, we developed and tested an integrative conceptual model, which includes constructs obtained from motivational, social cognitive and clinical models. The study presented has a longitudinal research design with two measurement waves: the first was carried out in the first term of the 2012-2013 school year and a second in the third term of the 2013-2014 school year. In this study participated 12th grade students enrolled in Portuguese secondary schools. Students were assessed in several constructs, including perceived parenting, psychological needs, career self-efficacy beliefs, dysfunctional schematic functioning, career exploration and commitment-making processes, regulation of career commitments and psychological well/ill-being. Findings suggest that experiences of parental need-support seem to associate to the adolescents´ feelings of higher need satisfaction and to an increased self-confidence in career decision-making, what, in turn, leads to the proactive exploration of career options, to more self-determined career choices and to feelings of higher well-being. On the other hand, they suggest that active parental need-thwarting experiences associate to the adolescents´ to an increase in feelings of psychological need frustration, which, in turn, lead to exploration and career choice processes based on dysfunctional schematic functioning, namely to ruminative exploration an exploration of career options, controlled choices and to the experience of higher ill-being. Overall, these associations seem to indicate the existence of substantively distinct pathways of career identity development and adjustment, one essentially self-determined and adaptive, and a second one more controlled and dysfunctional. This argument, despite somehow speculative, extends the SDT-based distinction between bright” and “dark” pathways of development, to the field of career development. It also suggests the need to differentiate career interventions of a promotional and remediate nature, in function of the degree of self-determination that is associated to the processes of exploration and commitment-making. We hope that with this research we have inspired the development of more integrated career interventions focused on building more self-determined psychological processes.

Heart Rate Variability as a psychophysiological biomarker of affect regulation in adolescents

Principal Investigator

Rúben Abrantes de Sousa

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/131046/2017)

Adolescence has been described as an important developmental stage in the acquisition of adaptive emotion regulation strategies. Evolutionary psychology models propose the threat, drive and soothing systems as the major regulators of emotion, allowing the individual/species to survive. Heart Rate (HR) and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) have been described as specific and accurate psychophysiological biomarkers of emotion regulation patterns. Moreover, individuals with high HRV show a more adjusted pattern of emotion regulation than individuals with low HRV (young offenders). This project intends to develop and validate audio scenarios, able to activate the three different emotion regulation systems and explore gender differences in HR/HRV patterns between community adolescents, as well as to test differences between male young offenders and community male adolescents. HR/HRV will also be explored as a psychotherapeutic physiological outcome measure of Compassion Focused Therapy for the forensic sample in an RCT.

Vocational aspirations in childhood: A longitudinal study

Principal Investigator

Rute David

Period

2011 - 2017

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/68364/2010)

Childhood has been acknowledged by specialized literature as central period in vocational development, a process that begins at this stage and goes throughout the entire life of the individual. Several authors argue that in early childhood there are processes that influence the individuals’ perception of vocational aspirations that are more appropriate or desirable, which can lead to early decisions that may affect future educational and occupational choices to be made later. Despite the importance of childhood, acknowledged by many, most of the research in the vocational context still focuses on studies with adolescents and adults, which has led many authors (national and international) to warn about the need to develop studies focusing on this age group, as many statements about it have been mostly inferred rather than studied. With this study we sought to deepen the knowledge regarding vocational aspirations of elementary and middle school children, using a longitudinal methodology, which allows to obtain data resulting from intra-individual differences, thus facilitating the understanding of the importance of aspects such as gender and socioeconomic status in the formation of vocational aspirations and in the early elimination of occupational aims. We also analysed the educational aspirations, as well as the interests and perceived competencies of children, and their perceptions of support from significant figures who have an influence on their vocational development, such as parents and teachers. This study presents data from 498 participants, spread across three cohorts and evaluated over three school years, starting when the children were attending the 2nd, 4th and 6th grades, corresponding the last moment of evaluation to the frequency of 4th, 6th and 8th grades, respectively. Some of the instruments used in this research were translated and adapted to Portuguese language, and data from their validation is presented.  The results obtained derive from the application of the Portuguese versions of the Inventory of Children’s Activities- Revised (ICA-R), the Career Choices Questionnaire (CCQ), the Teacher Support Scale (TSS), and the adaptation of the Parental Support Behaviors during Childhood scale. The results obtained from this investigation indicate that the majority of participants state that they have vocational goals, and these aspirations are fairly stable over the duration of this study. There are differences between boys and girls in relation to their vocational aspirations, as well as in relation to but also in their interests and competence perceptions. The socioeconomic status has also generated differences in the results, particularly in the educational aspirations of the participants. Parents and teachers are perceived as facilitators who support the vocational development of children. From the conclusions of this study, we drew implications for the implementation of educational practices and interventions that are able to facilitate healthy educational and occupational trajectories.

Aging and cognitive decline in the Portuguese population: Incidence, profiles, risk and protective factors

Principal Investigator

Sandra Freitas

Period

2017 - ...

Funding

FCT Research Contract (IF/01325/2015)

The present research project focuses on aging and its normal or pathological course. The main objective is to improve holistic knowledge of the aging population in Portugal and related risk and protective factors. For this, studies will be conducted to estimate the incidence rate of cognitive decline in the Portuguese population (reassessment of a cohort, of cognitively healthy elderly residents in the community, with an average follow-up of 6 years), characterization of the population aging profiles (successful aging, normal aging, and MCI and dementia patients), investigation of the impact and predictive potential of several factors [at the level of healthy status (e.g. medical diagnostics, medication), biological (e.g. APOE genotyping, complete blood count, metabolic status), lifestyle habits (e.g. smoking, alcohol and substance abuse, physical exercise, eating habits), cognitive reserve (e.g. sociodemographic variables, history of occupational attainment, leisure activities throughout life, estimate of IQ), toxicity by metals (e.g. Mn, Zn, Cu, Pb, Fe and Al)] on the course of aging and development of neurodegenerative diseases, and the development of a clinical data collection questionnaire for the elderly suspected of cognitive impairment.

Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA): Método de identificação da disfunção cognitiva em pacientes com Epilepsia

Principal Investigator

Sandra Freitas

Period

2016 - ...

Funding

Liga Portuguesa Contra a Epilepsia (Bolsa Científica LPCE 2016)

The aim of this research project is to develop a systematic plan of studies to validate the Portuguese version of the MoCA (Version 7.1) for the brief cognitive evaluation of patients with Epilepsy, thus providing the conditions for a rigorous use of this test in the identification of cognitive dysfunction in these patients. Epilepsy patients will be recruited at the Neurology Clinic of the Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra (Coimbra) and at the Neurology Clinic of the Centro Hospitalar de São João (Porto) (N=180).  The diagnosis will be established by a multidisciplinary team consensus according to the international classification (Shorvon, 2011).

COMP.ACT for Pain: An acceptance, mindfulness and compassion-based group program for Chronic Pain

Principal Investigator

Sérgio Carvalho

Period

2016 - ...

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/112833/2015)

The COMP.ACT project aims at developing and testing the efficacy of an acceptance- and compassion-based group intervention for chronic pain, as well as to track the mechanisms of therapeutic change.

Mindfulness: Clinical implications

Principal Investigator

Sónia Gregório

Period

2008 - 2013

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/40290/2007)

The thesis main aims were to explore the psychometric properties of two mindfulness measures; explore longitudinally the mediator role of dispositional mindfulness in negative emotional states of undergraduate students; compare the emotional impact of rumination and thought suppression with that of an experimental induction of mindfulness; and, as last, explore a pilot mindfulness-based program adapted for test anxiety in university students.

Time perspective stability: Studies with a multidimensional model in the university context

Principal Investigator

Victor Ortuño

Period

2009 - 2014

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship (SFRH/BD/33648/2009)

The individuals’ subjective notions about time represent a vast and relevant topic with strong implications not only for the understanding of human behaviour, but also because they function as the backbone for critical cognitive processes and permeate the objects’ perceptive process. Among these very unique and individual notions there is one that has gained tremendous prominence in recent decades and it is called Time Perspective. This construct has been considered for many years as a keystone in the motivational domain, more specifically in the school context, mainly through its future frame or Future Time Perspective. Recent theoretical and empirical developments have also demonstrated the importance of Time Perspective in a wide array of behaviours and cognitions. Yet, although empirically validated by several authors, in different countries and with different methodologies, there is still a lack of information about which external influences affect the stability of Time Perspective as a cognitive-motivational process. In this project, the factor structure of Time Perspective was addressed, with the development of an integrative model of Time Perspective, which combines Zimbardo & Boyd’s (1999) 5-dimension model, the Transcendental Future (Boyd & Zimbardo, 1997) and the notion indirectly referred to by Lewin (1965) of Future Negative. This model’s predictive and conceptual validity was tested through a series of studies using Structural Equation Modelling, in which Time Perspective appears as an important predictor of several well-known psychological traits such as Consideration of Future Consequences, Hope and Self-Esteem.  The issue of Time Perspective stability as also addressed, via a short-term longitudinal study analyzing the differences observed in Time Perspective after a one-year time period. The obtained results suggest that context has little or no effect on Time Perspective, since no strong differences were found between the assessments in the college and the home context. Regarding the temporal stability of Time Perspective, the results allow us to consider that in a one-year period Time Perspective is a quite stable construct, since there were no significant differences in any of its dimensions.

Depressive symptoms prevention in Portuguese adolescents

Principal Investigator

Sónia Cherpe

Period

2011 - 2018

Funding

SFRH/BD/72739/2010

Depression will be the second leading cause of disability in 2020, and the leading cause of death and morbidity worldwide by 2030 (WHO, WFMH, 2012). Adding the occurrence of the first depressive episode increases significantly during adolescence, at the age of 15 (Fergusson et al., 2005; Hankin et al., 1998).

The aim of this study was to research the risk and protection factors (R/PF) associated with depressive symptomatology in 1,200 adolescents aged 13 to 16 years old.

The selected bio-psychological R/PF were assessed either cross-sectional and longitudinally – panel studies (3 different moments, at 18 to 24 months in time) to analyze their effects on the variation of depressive symptomatology.

It is expected a slight contribution to the knowledge of preventive psychology through the identification, and structural analysis of cumulative effects of such factors. It might be important to enlighten the decisions related with the selection of the most powerful predictors (cost-effective and time-efficient) to maximize the usefulness of screenings and preventive interventions developmentally adjusted and timely wise.

Violência nas relações de intimidade: Uma abordagem diádica a partir dos modelos evolucionários

Principal Investigator

Marta Isabel Lopes Capinha

Period

2019 - 2023

Funding

FCT Individual Doctoral Fellowship SFRH/BD/137335/2018

A violência nas reações de intimidade (VRI) é reconhecida internacionalmente como problema de saúde pública, com graves consequências físicas, psicológicas e relacionais, e impacto socioeconómico. Apesar dos progressos jurídicosociais, traduzidos em intervenções cada vez mais especializadas para agressores e vítimas, não existem modelos psicológicos explicativos da VRI que considerem o papel das variáveis evolucionárias, e que se fundamentem no estudo da díade (agressor/vítima) enquanto casal. A compreensão do ajustamento diádico e dos mecanismos subjacentes à (des)regulação do afeto em sujeitos envolvidos em dinâmicas violentas nas relações de intimidade, que parecem impedir um coping adaptativo em situações de conflito conjugal, é fundamental para o desenvolvimento de estratégias de intervenção adequadas e eficazes. Privilegiando uma abordagem diádica, este estudo pretende analisar como a vergonha, associada à desregulação do afeto, se relaciona com experiências prévias de calor/afeto e segurança, influenciando estratégias disfuncionais de coping com a vergonha e, consequentemente, com o conflito conjugal.

eBEfree - An app-delivered programme based on mindfulness, values and compassion for binge eating

Principal Investigator

José Pinto Gouveia, Cristiana Duarte

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

POCI-01-0145-FEDER-029081

Funding: €239,537.98

LIFE with IBD - Living with Intention, Fullness and Engagement with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The impact of a group intervention and an ICT-based transcultural intervention on physical and mental health

Principal Investigator

Cláudia Ferreira

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FEDER

The LIFEwithIBD project aims to develop an innovative acceptance, mindfulness, and compassion-based intervention for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. This project will implement and test the efficacy of such intervention in two ways: a face to face group intervention (LIFE-IBD Group Intervention) and an Information and
Communication Technologies-based intervention (ICT-based LIFE IBD). The efficacy of LIFE-IBD Group Intervention to improve quality of life, mental health, and disease activity-related scores will be tested in a sample of Portuguese patients. Further, an ICT-delivery format of the programme will be developed and implemented in Portugal, United Kingdom and Brazil. The efficacy of ICT-based intervention will be analysed in a transcultural study and compared with LIFE-IBD Group Intervention’s results. LIFEwithIBD will directly contribute to the development of innovative and sustainable ways of providing holistic and more efficient healthcare options to IBD patients.

 

Funding: €238.119,53

Compassionate Schools: Development and efficacy study of a compassion based intervention to promote teachers and children’s wellbeing

Principal Investigator

Marcela Matos

Period

2017 - 2020

Funding

Compassionate Mind Foundation Research Funding

O projeto Compassionate Schools: Development and efficacy study of a compassion based intervention to promote teachers and children’s wellbeing visa desenvolver uma intervenção baseada na compaixão para o contexto escolar destinada a professores e a alunos, e testar a sua aceitabilidade, eficácia e impacto em indicadores fisiológicos de stresse, e investigar os seus mecanismos de mudança, através de estudos randomizados controlados em escolas de Portugal e Inglaterra. Envolve investigadores do Reino Unido (Paul Gilbert, Centre for Compassion Research and Training, College of Health and Social Care Research Centre, University of Derby, School of Sciences, Derby, United Kingdom; Frances Maratos, University of Derby; Mary Welford, Compassionate Mind Foundation), Estados Unidos (Brooke Dodson-Lavelle, Mind & Life Institute), Austrália (James Kirby, Universidade de Queensland) e Portugal (investigadores do CINEICC). Este projeto com duração de três anos é financiado pelo Compassionate Mind Foundation Research Funding (Total: 108.000,00€; Portugal: 54.000,00€). Data de início: maio de 2017.

The effects of compassion mind training on well-being, compassion orientation, and physiological and epigenetic correlates of prosociality and stress

Principal Investigator

Marcela Matos

Period

2018 - 2020

Funding

Compassionate Mind Foundation Research Funding

O projeto de investigação The effects of compassion mind training on well-being, compassion orientation, and physiological and epigenetic correlates of prosociality and stress pretende estudar o impacto de uma intervenção focada na compaixão em indicadores de bem-estar e regulação emocional, em respostas fisiológicos e marcadores epigenéticos de stress e prosociaidade. Este projeto é financiado pelo Compassionate Mind Foundation Research Funding (10.000,00€), e equipa é composta por Paul Gilbert (Centre for Compassion Research and Training, University of Derby, UK), Robert Kumsta (Department of Genetic Psychology, Research Department of Neuroscience, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany), José Pinto-Gouveia (CINEICC), tendo como Instituição de Acolhimento a Universidade de Coimbra (UC)/ Centro de Investigação do Núcleo de Estudos e Intervenção Cognitivo-Comportamental (CINEICC). Data de início: setembro de 2018.

TRUE TIMES - Morningness-eveningness and time-of-day effects on cognitive performances and emotional states: new lessons from children and adolescents

Principal Investigator

Ana Allen Gomes

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT

Projeto nº 32581, com financiado aprovado de 193.172,12 €, com início em junho de 2018.

iACT with Pain: an ICT-delivered intervention for self-management of chronic pain

Principal Investigator

Paula Castilho, José Pinto-Gouveia

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FEDER

Este projeto visa desenvolver e implementar uma intervenção TIC para a autogestão da dor crónica (DC)

Referência do projeto: T495807423-00033154

Montante financiado: 239.957,56€

 

Changing courses of social anxiety in adolescence: What works, why, and for whom.

Principal Investigator

Paula Vagos

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT - Reference: C492522605-00087032

Social anxiety in adolescence may develop to a psychopathological expression. Still, there is a lack of empirically validated therapies for social anxiety disorder (SAD) in adolescence that may be applied in schools, where adolescents face most of their (feared) social challenges. This research will evaluate the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral, compassion-focused, and acceptance and commitment therapies, as applied to adolescents’ SAD, in comparison with waiting-listed and non-disordered controls, after intervention and at follow-up. Therapeutic change process and moderators of change underlying different interventions will be investigated. The courses of adolescents’ social anxiety will be studied from a clinical and a normative perspective. Findings will provide evidence on which intervention may be the optimal choice for changing the course of SAD in general, and when dealing with specific vulnerabilities that mediate and moderate therapeutic change in this developmental period.

SeeingEars / Seeing with your ears: how deafness-induced neuroplasticity impacts neural processing and auditory restoration efforts

Principal Investigator

Qasim Bukhari

Period

2018 - ...

Funding

FCT Project (PTDC/PSI-GER/30757/2017)

The auditory cortex (AC) of congenitally deaf individuals can exhibit considerable plasticity and be recruited to process visual (and other sensorial) information. The fact that visual information is processed in the AC of the congenitally deaf leaves several important open questions that we will address in this project. In Aim 1 we will test how visual information reaches the AC of the congenitally deaf. In Aim 2 we will explore the functional organization of the neuroplastically-changed AC. In Aim 3 we will assess how these neuroplastic changes affect compensatory behavior under deafness. In Aim 4 we will investigate how these changes hamper auditory restoration efforts. Finally, in Aim 5 we will look at whether these neuroplastic changes recede with the use of CIs. This project will contribute greatly to our understanding of the auditory system under congenital deafness, and contribute to the improvement of programs for restoring auditory function in the congenitally deaf.

BRANT - Belief Bevision applied to Neurorehabilitation Therapy [/Revisão de Crenças aplicado a Terapias de Neurorehabilitação

Principal Investigator

Eduardo Leopoldo Fermé

Period

2018 - 2021

Funding

FCT Project (Ref. no. 30990 FCT)

Specification of requirements and identification of relevant neuropsychological assessment instruments for a comprehensive evaluation of cognition – University of Coimbra

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