Behavioral Physiology LaboratoryCurrent research interests in the Behavioral Physiology Laboratory focus on autonomic reactivity to stress and its implications in the pathogenesis of a broad range of health conditions, including cardiovascular disorders. Empirical projects are currently being conducted in the Behavioral Physiology Laboratory in the Department of Psychology as well as through research collaborations at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center.
Recent empirical work in behavioral physiology has examined how various psychological
phenomena (e.g., hostility, social support, optimism, coping, forgiveness) are
linked to health outcomes. Based upon the literature, it has been hypothesized
that the relation between these behavioral factors and disease outcomes is mediated
by the magnitude and patterning of autonomic nervous system responses to mental
stress. As such, individuals who respond to mental stress with exaggerated or prolonged autonomic
responses are at the greatest risk for subsequent health problems. Additional investigations
explore behavioral methods for reducing the magnitude of these autonomic responses.