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Mousetracker: Understanding the Dynamic Decision-Making Process Behind Approach and Avoidance Behavior Through a Computer-Based Measure

Presenters Name: 
Amelia Robinson-Brown
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Bethany Teachman
Secondary Research Mentor: 
Claudia Calicho-Mamani
12:30 - 1:45
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 12:30pm to 1:45pm
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Social Science
Grant Program Recipient: 
USOAR Program

The desire to either approach or avoid a stimulus is a primary motivator of human behavior and its dysregulation is common in mood and anxiety disorders. Despite the fact that the decision-making process behind approach and avoidance behavior is a complex, multi-step process, most research only focuses on the final outcome. The purpose of this study is to use a computer-based measure of approach and avoidance behavior to further understand this dynamic decision-making process. Participants complete a Mousetracker computer task in which the movement of their mouse is recorded by the program as they are asked to click on a series of squares and pictures of animals. In addition, participants will complete a series of questionnaires and a behavioral avoidance task with an anxiety-provoking stimulus, a spider. By studying the mouse movements of participants of varying levels of spider fear, the possibility of differences in approach and avoidance behavior based on degree of fear can be explored. During the computer and behavioral avoidance tasks, along with a six minute resting period, participants will be wearing an EEG cap, so that this data can be analyzed to see whether or not known markers of approach and avoidance behavior, such as frontal alpha asymmetry, affect behavior on the mouse tracking and behavioral avoidance tasks. The multi-modal data set gathered from this study will help to shed light on the dynamic nature of approach and avoidance motivation and how this motivation plays out across a variety of tasks.