Morris David Bell, PhD, ABPP

Professor of Psychiatry; VA RR&D Senior Research Career Scientist

Departments & Organizations

Psychiatry: Connecticut Mental Health Center | Mental Health Services Research, Division of | Psychology Section | VA-CMHC-Yale Learning Based Recovery Center | Yale Global Mental Health Program

Faculty Research

Office of Cooperative Research

Biography

Dr. Morris Bell is Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and Senior Research Career Scientist for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service. Trained as a clinical and neuropsychologist, Dr. Bell’s career as clinician and researcher has been devoted to exploring interventions to restore cognitive and work function for people with severe and persistent mental disorders.  His work spans four decades and has had wide national and international influence.

Dr. Bell’s research on work rehabilitation has revealed that cognitive impairment is a rate-limiting factor in improving work function. As a result, he has been at the forefront of developing cognitive remediation interventions. He has found that cognitive remediation can improve vocational outcomes in work therapy and supported employment. He is also a co-investigator on a study that combines cognitive enhancing medications with cognitive training for people with schizophrenia. His development and study of cognitive interventions has extended to other disorders including substance abuse, "chemo-brain", mild to moderate TBI and ADHD.

Dr. Bell developed a Virtual Reality Job Interview Training program with funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that has been designated by SAMSHA as an evidence-based practice for job interview training.  It is now commercially available and widely used in vocational rehabilitation programs for adolescents with special needs including Autism Spectrum Disorder and for adults with disabling psychiatric illnesses.  He was recently awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop methods for robot-assisted vocational training. 


Dr. Bell has been an important contributor to studies of social cognition and is the co-developer of the Bell Lysaker Emotion Recognition Test (BLERT), which was recently recommended by NIMH for clinical trials involving social cognition. He has also developed the Social Attribution Test- Multiple Choice (SAT-MC) as a measure of theory of mind and the American version of the Hinting Task, a measure of Theory of Mind. He is currently a co-investigator on an NIMH funded study of the “Social Brain” that includes these instruments in a comparison of Adults with Schizophrenia, Autism and Healthy Controls.   Other measures developed by Dr. Bell include the Bell Object Relations Reality Testing Inventory (BORRTI) and the Bell Relationship Inventory for Adolescents (BRIA), both published by Western Psychological Services,  Her also co-developed the Work Behavior Inventory and the Vocational Cognitive Rating Scale for use in psychiatric rehabilitation.   

Dr. Bell is currently developing a measure of embodied cognition that uses physical tasks to assess cognition in motion. Funded by NSF, this instrument will use motion capture technology to automatically score children as they perform balance, gait, attention, response inhibition, working memory and set-shifting tasks. These scores may more closely relate to daily functioning than current static neuropsychological assessment and more clearly represent cognitive development in children.

Dr. Bell’s research activities are supported by grants from National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. He also serves as chairman of his Institutional Review Board and consults to industry and other research groups internationally on interventions that may lead to functional improvement in schizophrenia and other disabling psychiatric illnesses. Dr. Bell was recently selected by the World Health Organization to serve on their schizophrenia expert panel for the International Classification of Function, Disability and Health (ICF).

Dr. Bell directs the VA/Yale Learning Based Recovery Center. He also directs the Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) program which reaches out to Veterans on college campuses, providing psycho-education and mental health services, liaison to other Veteran Healthcare Administration services, and consultation and education for faculty about Veteran students.

Dr. Bell serves as Chair of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System IRB. The American Psychological Association has recognized Dr. Bell with a national award for Distinguished Contributions to Science in Public Service.

Education & Training

PhD George Washington University (1976)

Honors & Recognition

  • Senior Research Career ScientistVA Rehabilitation Research and Development (2010)

  • Distinguished Contribution to the Science of Psychology in Public Service American Psychological Association (2002)

  • Research Career ScientistVA Rehabilitation Research and Development (2000)

Professional Service

  • VA Connecticut Healthcare System (2005 - 2015) Chairman, Human Studies Subcommittee

  • National Institute of Mental Health (2005 - 2014) NIMH T32 Grant Reviews

  • VA Rehabilitation Research and Development (2005 - 2014) VA Merit Review

  • VA Rehabilitation Research and Development (2005 - 2011) VA Merit Review Grant Committee

Activities

  • test4 Norway (2013)

    Research Consultant on vocational rehabilitation and cognitive remediation

  • Workshops & Lectures Zurich, Switzerland (2000)

    Vocational and cognitive rehabilitation

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