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Kirkpatrick receives five-year NIMH grant to continue studies on impulsive choices

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021



MANHATTAN — Kimberly Kirkpatrick, Kansas State University distinguished professor of psychological sciences, has received a five-year, $1.9 million R01 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Kirkpatrick's R01 research has now been continuously funded since 2010. The new grant continues her impulsive choices research, being conducted in her Reward, Timing and Decision Laboratory, established in 2008, and in K-State'sCognitive and Neurobiological Approaches to Plasticity Center of Biomedical Research Excellence, where she serves as director.

Kirkpatrick studies impulsive choices that stem from a poor ability to wait for better, long-term outcomes. For example, individuals might choose a convenient fast-food meal instead of taking the time to make a healthier meal. Impulsive choices are associated with a wide range of diseases and disorders, including substance abuse, gambling, obesity, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Kirkpatrick said the overarching goal of this grant is to identify the underlying mechanisms of impulsive choices and target those mechanisms using interventions to promote self-control.

"This project aims to demonstrate distinct roles for specific timing processes in promoting self-control and will assess effects of the interventions on structural connectivity in cortico-striatal pathways, which are prime candidate neural systems for the time-based intervention effects on timing and impulsive choices," Kirkpatrick said. "Overall, this project will identify specific cognitive and neural mechanisms of time-based interventions."

Co-investigators on the project are K-State's Travis Smith, research assistant professor of psychological sciences, and Sally Davis, assistant professor of experimental pathology.

"This research is significant because of the critical need for effective interventions to moderate impulsive choices,” said Kirkpatrick. "As a trans-disease process, impulsive choice has broad relevance for human health."

Kirkpatrick’s team is currently translating the interventions to develop a digital therapy platform for use in substance abuse treatment. The translational research is supported by a recent Small Business Research Innovation grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This grant is being conducted in collaboration with NXTech, a startup company that focuses on developing behavioral engineering solutions to human health problems.


Kimberly Kirkpatrick


Psychological sciences


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Kimberly Kirkpatrick

Kimberly Kirkpatrick, Kansas State University distinguished professor of psychological sciences.

Written by

Malorie Sougey