Dr. Yoon-Hee Cha studies the cerebellum and its physiological functions at LIBR. courtesy Laureate Institute for Brain Research

LIBR study seeks connection between cerebellum and anxiety

Dr. Yoon-Hee Cha’s study tests the link between one’s cerebellum and one’s level of anxiety.

Benjamin Chipper Doudican, a research assistant, is an important research member at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research. His job is to assist and conduct studies run by Principal Investigator Dr. Yoon-Hee Cha that examine how brain stimulation affects the process of learning and unlearning fear that create worrying in people.

Dr. Yoon-Hee Cha is a principal investigator at LIBR, a neurologist and an assistant professor at the University of Tulsa. According to the LIBR website, Dr. Cha completed her biology degree at Stanford University and earned her medical degree at Mayo Medical School before joining the staff at LIBR in August of 2012.

Dr. Cha’s work has evolved from studying the cerebellum and how it reacts to external and internal signals to exploring the “role of the cerebellum in mood and anxiety disorders, particularly in its role in fear conditioning and fear extinction.” Fear extinction includes symptoms such as anxiety and a greater-than-average propensity for worrying.
According to the LIBR website, Dr. Yoon-Hee Cha developed her interest in “understanding the neurological basis of motion perception” at the University of California in Los Angeles, which lead to her current work at LIBR. Her past studies include magnetic stimulation and electric stimulation to treat disorders of motion perception.

Doudican spoke of Dr. Cha and the work that she focuses on at LIBR, saying that “she is exploring different types of neuromodulation in the treatment of brain disorders.” According to neuromodulation.com, neuromodulation is “the alteration of nerve activity through targeted delivery of a stimulus, such as electrical stimulation or chemical agents.”

In Dr. Cha’s research, sponge electrodes are placed on the head with a low voltage current transmitted through the scalp to the brain. According to Doudican, the reason behind the study is to see “whether the process of fear conditioning and extinction is affected by these treatments.”

University of Tulsa students are invited to participate in the study and be compensated for their time. Interviews, brain imaging with an MRI and a non-invasive brain stimulation method called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) are conducted on the first day. During the second visit on the following day, the patient has to complete a brief computer task. Patients do not have to be medically diagnosed with any type of anxiety disorder to sign up for the study.

According to LIBR, the study is open to people who:

• Are between 18 and 70 years old
• Can understand enough English to complete the interviews and answer questions.
• Have access to a computer.
• Are NOT an international student visa. This is due to restrictions on international students’ research compensation.
• Are NOT currently experiencing severe/unstable health issues that need immediate medical attention.

Summarized by Doudican, “the goal is to find a way to lower the fear extinction [and] worry threshold of people with anxiety.” If students are interested in participating, they can take steps to do so by calling the number at the end of the article.

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If interested, call 918-502-5100.

Post Author: Brooke-Lyne Holland