Rajita Sinha, PhD

Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry and Professor in the Child Study Center and of Neuroscience; Director, Yale Interdisciplinary Stress Center; Chief, Psychology Section in Psychiatry; Co-director of Education, Yale Center for Clinical Investigation

Research Departments & Organizations

Psychiatry: Connecticut Mental Health Center: Division of Substance Abuse | Division of Addictions | Neuroscience Research Training Program (NRTP) | Psychology Section | Psychotherapy Development Center | Stress & Addiction Clinical Research Program

Diabetes Research Center

Drug use, Addiction, and HIV Research Scholars (DAHRS)

MacMillan Center

Office of Cooperative Research

Research Interests

Child Psychiatry; Chronic Disease; Neurobiology; Neurosciences; Psychiatry; Relaxation; Stress, Psychological; Substance-Related Disorders

Research Summary

Clinical neurobiology of stress, emotion and relaxation, stress coping and regulation, emotion dysregulation, effects of stress and emotion dysregulation on desire for reward, dysfunctional motivation and addictive behaviors, such as, alcohol use, smoking, high calorie food intake, drug abuse, sex, gambling and emerging technology. Mechanisms underlying sex differences in stress neurobiology, and interaction with motivational processes and effects on health outcomes is integral to this research area. The neurobiology of relaxation and its effect on resilience and chronic stress and emotion dysregulation is also being studied. An additional interest is in developing treatments to target stress-related relapse in addictive behaviors. We’ve developed and validated a laboratory and neuroimaging model of stress-induced and hedonic cue-induced craving and engagement in addictive behaviors. The laboratory model characterizes the compulsive craving state and is being applied to test new pharmacological and psychological interventions to reduce craving and maladaptive behaviors. Individual difference variables such as gender, genetics, early trauma, chronic stress, prefrontal cognitive functioning that may modulate responses to stress and urges are also being studied.

Specialized Terms:

Child Psychiatry; Chronic Disease; Neurobiology; Neuroscience; Psychiatry; Stress Response, Chronic Stress, Stress Regulation, Resilience, Psychological; Obesity, Substance-Related Disorders 

Clinical Trials

Conditions Study Title
Children's Health Preventing Childhood Obesity Through a Mindfulness-Based Parent Stress Intervention
Addictive Behaviors, Alcohol Addiction, Mental Health & Behavioral Research The Role of Neuroactive Steroids in Stress, Drug craving and Drug Use in Alcohol Use Disorders
Addictive Behaviors, Alcohol Addiction, Diseases of the Nervous System, Mental Health & Behavioral Research Neurobiology of Stress, Mood, and Comorbid Alcohol Use
Addictive Behaviors Pregnenolone to Reduce Stress-Induced Cocaine Craving and Improve Treatment Outcome
Addictive Behaviors, Alcohol Addiction, Mental Health & Behavioral Research Multimodal Neuroimaging of Stress, Arousal, and Alcoholism Risk
Addictive Behaviors, Diseases of the Nervous System, Mental Health & Behavioral Research, Women's Health Neural Circuitry of Parenting: Neuroimaging Studies of Cocaine-Abusing Mothers

Selected Publications

See list of PubMed publications

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