Dara G. Ghahremani, Ph.D. is an Associate Researcher in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences and Semel Insitute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He received his PhD in the Neuroscience area in the Psychology Department at Stanford University and was a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA. His research aims to understand self-control behavior, its neural basis, how it is compromised in substance abuse, and how it may be strengthened using both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions.
The self-control behaviors he focuses on include behavioral flexibility, response inhibition, and emotion regulation. He uses multiple neuroimaging techniques to investigate the neural basis of self-control, including functional MRI (fMRI) to measure brain activation while people perform various tests of self-control and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to measure neurochemical markers of dopamine function. His studies examine both healthy control participants and those that are substance abusers. These include adults who use methamphetamine and cigarettes as well as adolescent cigarette smokers and marijuana users. The interventions employed for potential enhancement of self-control behavior include medications that show promise for enhancing cognitive function and non-pharmacological approaches that activate the parasympathetic system, relieving stress and anxiety. His recent studies on non-pharmacological approaches have focused on the YES! for Schools program, a biopsychosocial workshop for adolescents that promotes self-regulation.