Rajita Sinha PhD

Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry and Professor in the Child Study Center and of Neurobiology; Director, Yale Interdisciplinary Stress Center; Chief, Psychology Section in Psychiatry; Deputy Director, Yale Center for Clinical Investigation (Yale CTSA)

Research Interests

Stress; Relaxation; Chronic Disease; Addiction; Addictive behaviors; Clinical Prevention

Research Summary

Clinical neurobiology of stress 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, sex, gambling and drug use. 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 model of stress-induced and hedonic cue-induced craving and lapse to 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.

Selected Publications

  • Seo D, Tsou K, Ansell E, Potenza MN, Sinha R (2014). Cumulative adversity sensitizes brain response to acute stress: association with current health symptoms. Neuropsychopharmacology Feb;39(3):670-80 (Sep 20, 2014.
  • Stults-Kolehmainen, M. A. and R. Sinha (2014). "The effects of stress on physical activity and exercise: A systematic review." Sports Medicine 44(1): 81-121.
  • Seo D, Lacadie C, Constable TC, Tuit K, Sinha R (2013). Disrupted Ventromedial prefrontal function, alcohol craving and subsequent relapse risk. JAMA Psychiatry, Jul 1;70(7):727-39.
  • Sinha R, Jastreboff AM (2013). Stress is a common risk factor in obesity and in addiction. Biological Psychiatry (March 25, EPub ahead of print). May 1;73(9):827-35
  • Page KA, Chan O, Arora J, Belfort-Aguiar R, Roehmholdt B, Cline G, Sinha R, Constable RT, Sherwin RS (2013). Effects of fructose vs glucose on regional cerebral blood flow in brain regions involved with appetite and reward pathways. JAMA. Jan 2;309(1):63-70.
  • Arnsten AFT, Mazure C, Sinha R. This is your brain in meltdown. Scientific American, 2012, April, 48-53.
  • Sinha R, Fox HC, Hong KI, Hansen J, Tuit K, Kreek MJ (2011) Effects of Adrenal Sensitivity, Stress- and Cue-Induced Craving, and Anxiety on Subsequent Alcohol Relapse and Treatment Outcomes. Arch Gen Psychiatry. May 2. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 21536969.
  • Page K, Seo D, Aguier R, Lacadie C, Dzijuira, Naik S, Amarnath S, Constable RT, Sherwin RS, Sinha R (2011). Circulating glucose modulates neural control of desire for high-calorie foods in humans. Journal of Clinical Investigation Oct 3;121(10):4161-9.
  • Ansell EB, Rando K, Tuit K, Guarnaccia J, Sinha R. Cumulative Adversity and Smaller Gray Matter Volume in Medial Prefrontal, Anterior Cingulate, and Insula Regions. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Jan 2. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 22218286.
  • Sinha R, Garcia M, Paliwal P, Kreek MJ, Rounsaville BJ. Stress-induced cocaine craving and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal responses are predictive of cocaine relapse outcomes. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006 Mar;63(3):324-31. PubMed PMID: 16520439.


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