Recent projects have examined the relationship of the content and structure of mental representations and adult attachment (Levy et al., 1998), neurocognitive functioning and neural activity and emotion regulation in borderline personality disorder (Levy et al., 2005; Posner et al., 2002; Silbersweig et al., 2007), and psychotherapy outcome in the treatment of personality disorders (Clarkin et al., 2001; Clarkin et al., 2007; Levy et al., 2006).
Current projects examine mechanisms of change in psychotherapy for borderline personality disorder (Levy et al., 2006), the contextual and personality factors that influence post-treatment adjustment in patients with borderline personality disorder, the influence of attachment and representation on stress reactivity in patients with borderline personality disorder, and the developmental precursors of personality problems in children of parents with personality disorders (Levy, 2005).
We have examined several other areas within psychology such as attachment and jealousy (), tend to befriend and behavior, priming attachment behaviors; however, the main focus of our work must remain close to the areas mentioned above.
Our research is rooted in a developmental psychopathology perspective (Cicchetti, 1984; Cicchetti & Rogosch, 1996; Rutter & Sroufe, 2000; Sroufe, 1990; Sroufe & Rutter, 1984), particularly within an attachment theoretical approach (Ainsworth et al., 1978; Bowlby, 1988). In our work we employ self-report, interview, observational, interactive, neurocognitive and experimental psychopathology methods and we study both clinical and non-clinical groups. We generally assess mental representation either using both interview and self-report measures or using an array of self-report measures. Doing so enables us to examine the relationship between these different measures of their construct validity. Our hope is to ferret out the parameters of these measures and to better understand the latent constructs underlying personality organization.
Our lab space is in the Moore Building, which houses the psychology department and the psychology clinic. Our facilities include four dedicated rooms and access to interviewing rooms (all with videotaping capabilities), rooms for study participants to be administered computer-based cognitive and neuropsychological tests and to complete self-report questionnaires, and conference rooms suitable for lab meetings or proctoring large groups of subjects.
Our dedicated space includes both large and medium sized project offices to house research and graduate assistants. The large project room includes five Windows-based desktop computers and one Windows-based laptop, with word processing and data analytic capabilities, heavy load color laser printer with feed photocopy, fax, and scanner capabilities and a flat bed scanner.
The medium sized project room includes four Windows-based desktop computers with word processing and data analytic capabilities and a laser printer. Dr. Levy's office include two Windows-based desktop computers and a laser printer. All computers are networked to the departmental server as the College's mainframe computer, and with each other. There are VCRs, DVD players, monitors for viewing videotapes and DVDs, and high quality audio-cassette players are available for reviewing taped interviews. We also have a room with a one-way mirror suitable for assessing parent-child and participant interactions.
Other equipment includes audio tape and DVD transcription machines with foot pedals, electric typewriter, audio-tape and video-tape duplicating machines including VCR to DVD and a portable computer set-up for administering computer-based experimental tasks know to tap aspects of affect regulation (e.g., the Stroop test for color inference, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task, go-no go reaction time task).
We also have two laboratory spaces at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. One laboratory is located at the psychology extension of the Payne Whitney Clinic on East 61st Street. The other laboratory space is located on the 2rd floor of Banker Villa at the Westchester Campus of New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Both these labs include rooms for interviewing subjects, administering computer-based experimental tasks, and are suitable implementing treatment interventions.
Our lab space is in the Moore Building
Lab research was recently featured in Scientific American.
The New York Times Our Family and its Legacy of Pain
Lab research was recently featured in Newsweek.
Psychiatrist Awarded for Research on Psychoanalytic Therapy
Article by Joan Arehart-Treichel in Psychiatric News.
Dr. Levy published an editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry called Psychotherapies and Lasting Change
A reviewer comment published in Journal Watch Psychiatry, February 4, 2008
The Brain in Borderline Personality Disorder
Does impaired prefrontal inhibition lead to the diminished emotional self-regulation characteristic of this disorder? Borderline personality disorder, characterized by preponderantly negative affective states, high reactivity, and diminished ability to regulate one's emotions, has challenged researchers for decades. Previous neuropsychological studies have suggested that impulsivity and negative affectivity may be related to orbitofrontal dysfunction. Now, neurobiological and psychoanalytic investigators join in an elegant examination of the hypothesis that during negative emotional states, patients with borderline personality disorder would show deficient inhibitory function of the prefrontal cortex. Sixteen patients with borderline personality disorder and 14 healthy controls were subjected to a test requiring motor inhibition during negative emotion. No patients had current substance dependence, but many had past or current psychiatric comorbidities.
Subjects underwent functional MRI scanning while silently reading a series of negative, positive, or neutral words; they were asked to press a button while reading each word but to inhibit pressing it when the word was italicized. When confronted with negative stimuli and asked to exert behavioral inhibition, patients showed less activation of the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex and the posterior medial orbitofrontal cortex than controls did, and more activity in the left and right extended amygdala and ventral striatum. The brain-activation pattern differences persisted in all analyses that adjusted for psychiatric comorbidities and psychotropic drug use (by 11 patients) — except in an analysis for avoidant personality disorder.
Comment: Although these findings require replication, this neurobiological evidence of different activations in regions of both the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala is consistent with borderline personality disorder's most prominent clinical features. Could these findings lead to more specific pharmacologic interventions? — Joel Yager, MD
Citation(s): Silbersweig D et al. (2007). Failure of frontolimbic inhibitory function in the context of negative emotion in borderline personality disorder. Am J Psychiatry 2007 Dec; 164:1832. September 2007: Harvard Mental Health Letter on Victories over borderline personality disorder June 2007: Dr. Levy's research was cited in the article Do all roads lead to Rome? New findings on Borderline Personality Disorder.
Dr. Frank Yeomans also appeared on WNYC's The Leonard Lopate Show. Click Here for a copy of the program.
Dr. Frank Yeomans also appeared on The Today Show Weekend Edition January 27th. Click Here for more information about the program.
Harvard Mental Health Letter on Borderline Personality Disorder.
From New York City:
The suggested route is via the George Washington Bridge to Interstate 80. In Pennsylvania, exit from I-80 at Exit 24 (Bellefonte) and follow Route 26 south to State College.
From the West:
Take I-80 to Exit 20 (Woodland) just east of Clearfield, then Route 322 east to State College. One may also exit I-80 at Exit 24 (Bellefonte) and follow Route 26 south to State College.
Local Area Directions (From the Penn State University/Innovation Park exit on 322):
Take Route 322 to the Penn State University/Innovation Park exit.
If you are traveling on Route 322 westbound, you will approach a traffic light at the end of the exit ramp. Turn right onto Park Avenue toward campus, and away from Innovation Park.If you are traveling on Route 322 eastbound, make a right at the end of the exit ramp and proceed onto Park Avenue toward campus, and away from Innovation Park. Once you are on Park Avenue, turn left at the light just before the stadium and just after the visitor's center. Then turn right just after the stadium. Lot 44 will be on your left.
Directions to Dr. Levy's office:
Dr. Levy is in room 362 Moore Building, which is on the third floor of the new addition to the Moore Building. The Moore Building can be entered from the side entrance, which is the entrance closest to the Nittany Lion Parking Deck. Coming in from the side entrance you’ll see the Administrative Suite through a set of glass doors. Continue past the Administrative Suite and take a left down the next hallway. You will see the elevators on your left. Take the elevator to the third floor. Turn left as you exit the elevator and go through the double doors. You’ll see an open lounge area in front of you. Dr. Levy's office will be on the first office to the right of the lounge.
Directions to 357 Moore:
Room 357 is on the third floor of the new addition to the Moore Building. The Moore Building can be entered from the side entrance, which is the entrance closest to the Nittany Lion Parking Deck. Coming in from the side entrance you’ll see the Administrative Suite on your left through a set of glass doors. Continue past the Administrative Suite and take a left down the next hallway. You will see the elevators on your left. Take the elevator to the third floor. Turn left as you exit the elevator and go through the double doors. You’ll see an open lounge area in front of you. Take a right down the hallway when you get to the lounge area. Room 357 is the third room on the right.
Image Copyright 2012 The Pennsylvania State University. Source: http://www.registrar.psu.edu/soc_maps/moore.html