Current Studies

Menstruation, Alcohol Reporting, Tracking Hormones, and Analysis Study (MARTHA)

Principal Investigator: Samantha Farris, Ph.D.

Study Site: REHAB Laboratory, New Brunswick, New Jersey

There is evidence suggesting that frequent fluctuations in estradiol and progesterone during the menstrual cycle may contribute to intermittent periods of exacerbated negative affect and distress, and deplete adaptive emotion regulation abilities, which may make females especially vulnerable to negative-reinforcement drinking. This study focuses on the role of estradiol and progesterone, ovarian hormones, in affective dysfunction, a core driver of alcohol reinforcemet. Over the course of one menstrual cycle, the daily fluctuations of salivatory progesterone and estradiol will be measured in conjunction to their affects on daily affective processes and alcohol reinforcement.

Behavioral Exposure For Interoceptive Tolerance (BE-FIT)

Principal Investigator: Samantha Farris, Ph.D.

Study Site: REHAB Laboratory, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Exercise helps to slow the progression of aging-associated changes to the heart, however, exercise initiation and maintenance can be difficult in aging adults due to deconditioning, pain, frailty, and disability. Exercise anxiety is particularly elevated in individuals with cardiovascular disease given that the physical sensations of exercise often feel similar to the sensations experienced or attributed to cardiovascular disease (e.g., shortness of breath, chest tightness, dizziness, fatigue, pain). We developed a mechanistically-informed cognitive-behavioral intervention to target exercise anxiety, called Behavioral Exposure For Interoceptive Tolerance (BE-FIT); we hypothesize that BE-FIT will result in higher levels of overall exercise and reductions in exercise anxiety.

Exercise Appraisals and Behavior

Principal Investigator: Samantha Farris, Ph.D.

Study Site: REHAB Laboratory, New Brunswick, New Jersey

13740143803 480368907d mThere is a dearth of research regarding negative appraisal of physical sensations experienced during exercise and how those cognitions and emotions may be related to avoidance of physical activity in the general population. We seek to close this knowledge gap through a series self-report and behavioral studies centered around a recently-developed assessment designed by Dr. Farris. The aim of this multi-phase project is to broaden the understanding of under-active lifestyles in the general population to promote community health. 



Smoking Health Evaluation (SHE)

Principal Investigator: Samantha Farris, Ph.D.

Study Site: REHAB Laboratory, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Woman smokingThere is evidence that fluctuations in ovarian hormones over the course of the menstrual cycle can influence emotions and smoking behavior. The aim of this project is to understand how those fluctuations contribute to health behaviors and emotiona in female smokers over the course of one menstrual cycle. Participants are asked to complete daily diaries using a mobile app and provide daily saliva samples. Now enrolling.




Exercise Promotion in Patients Attending Cardiac Rehabilitation

Principal Investigator: Samantha Farris, Ph.D.

Co-Investigators: Brandon Alderman, Ph.D., Lynn Clemow, Ph.D., Ana Abrantes, Ph.D., Dinesh Singal, M.D.

Study Site: Cardio Metabolic Institute, Somerset, New Jersey

RunningCardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for approximately 1/3 of deaths per year. Cardiac rehabilitation is a clinical program that involves heart rehabilitation via regular exercise and counseling and education to help change health behaviors that contribute to risk for cardiovascular disease. The REHAB Lab is partnering with the Cardio Metabolic Institute in Somerset, New Jersey, and developed and tested a new behavioral intervention to address mental and physical health barriers to engaging in reguar physical activity in those who are enrolled in cardiac rehabilitation. The pilot study was completed and the study is in transition to a Randomized Controlled Trial.



Cannabis Vaping Study

Principal Investigators: Samantha Farris, Ph.D., Elizabeth Aston, Ph.D.

Study Site: Greenleaf Compassion Center, Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Slide3Cannabis vaporization or "vaping" is an increasingly popular form of cannabis consumption, with close to 40% of cannabis users reporting using vaporization devices (e.g. vape pens) within the past month. Vaping is particularly common among individuals who use cannabis for medical purposes. This study aimed to use a "smart" vaporizer to understand where, when, and why individuals vape, and how people feel after vaping. This study took place at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.



 Photo courtesy of