Stephen S. Ilardi
Ph.D., 1995, Duke University
Research Areas: Clinical Psychology
I've spent my research career investigating the phenomenology and the successful treatment of depression. Much of my recent clinical research in this area has been informed by the rich conceptual and methodological framework provided by the multidisciplinary domain of cognitive neuroscience, which provides a useful meta-theoretical vantage point from which to integrate discoveries across traditional disciplinary boundaries (Ilardi & Feldman, 2001; Ilardi, 2002). Such integration is especially important, I believe, because depression research now encompasses several largely distinct research literatures that span multiple levels of analysis: molecular, genetic, neurological, cognitive, affective, social, behavioral, etc.
Over the past four years I have collaborated extensively with neuroscientist Ruthann Atchley to investigate maladaptive cognitive processes (e.g., attention, self-representation, semantic processing, etc.) in depression. The collaboration brings together her expertise in neuroimaging and neurocognitive assessment with my own clinical expertise regarding the cognitive phenomenology and treatment of depression. By pioneering the use of divided visual field techniques to isolate the functioning of each cerebral hemisphere, we have made promising discoveries regarding the enduring nature of negativistic, maladaptive depressive representations in the brain's right hemisphere - discoveries with considerable potential clinical applicability. Moreover, we have utilized electroencephalographic (EEG) techniques to develop a method of investigating depressive self-representation (e.g., "I am a loser") in a fashion that completely obviates the need for self-report, relying instead on real-time analysis of EEG brainwave patterns as the individual reads a series of self-referent sentences.
Another recent project involves the development of a novel therapeutic treatment for depression that focuses upon numerous modifiable lifestyle factors - e.g., aerobic exercise, omega-3 essential fatty acid supplementation, light exposure, sleep hygiene, social intimacy, behavioral activation, and anti-rumination techniques - that have each independently been demonstrated to have antidepressant properties. Moreover, the increasingly sedentary, isolated, and fast pace of modern life appears designed to thwart, rather than to facilitate, the cultivation of each of these factors - a fact which may help explain the relentlessly increasing prevalence of depression in the developed world over the past several decades.
Ilardi, S.S. The cognitive neuroscience perspective: A brief primer for clinical psychologists. The Behavior Therapist. (in press).
Atchley, R. A., Ilardi, S.S., & Enloe, A. (2003). Hemispheric asymmetry in the lexical processing of emotion: The effect of current and past depression. Brain and Language, 84(1), 105-119
Enloe, A.H., Ilardi, S.S., & Atchley, R.A. Word valence, attention, and hemispheric activity in depressed, remitted, and nondepressed controls. Brain and Cognition, 46, 129-133, 2001.
Ilardi, S.S., & Feldman, D. The cognitive neuroscience paradigm: A unifying meta-theoretical framework for the science and practice of clinical psychology. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57, 1067-1088, 2001.
Ilardi, S.S., & Feldman, D. Cognitive neuroscience and the progress of psychological science: Once more with feeling (and other mental constructs). Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57, 1113-1117, 2001.
Ilardi, S.S., Rodriguez-Hanley, A., Roberts, M.C., & Seigel, J. On the origins of clinical psychology faculty: Who is training the trainers? Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 7, 346-354. [Lead article with six invited commentaries], 2000.
Ilardi, S.S., & Craighead, W.E. The relationship between personality pathology and dysfunctional cognitions in previously depressed adults. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 108, 51-57, 1999.