Melynda Casement

Melynda Casement profile picture

Research Interests and Publications

I am a clinical scientist who is interested in the neurocognitive mechanisms by which homeostatic stressors (e.g., stressful life events, insufficient sleep) contribute to depression and other forms of psychopathology. As a leading cause of disease burden, depression is particularly devastating and critical to understand. Over the last decade of research, I have studied affective processing biases as a key neurocognitive mechanism of depression. I am driven to understand how these affective biases develop and how they can be remediated.

My ongoing work tests a neurodevelopmental model in which stressful life events and insufficient sleep during adolescence increase risk for depression by disrupting neural reward processing. Stressful life events and insufficient sleep are both robust predictors of depression onset and both are linked to reward circuit disruption. Furthermore, adolescence is characterized by increases in stressful life events and habitual sleep deprivation. In combination, homeostatic stressors and stress-related reward circuit disruption may form a ‘perfect storm’ for depression during adolescence. These data also lead to the intriguing hypothesis that extending sleep duration in adolescents could buffer neural reward circuitry from the impact of stressors and thereby decrease risk for depressive symptoms.

Selected publications:

Casement, M.D. & Swanson, L.M. (2012). A meta-analysis of imagery rehearsal for post-trauma nightmares: Effects on nightmare frequency, sleep quality, and posttraumatic stress. Clinical Psychology Review, 32(6), 566-574.

Casement, M.D., Guyer, A.E., Hipwell, A.E., McAloon, R.L., Hoffmann, A.M., Keenan, K.E., & Forbes, E.E. (2014). Girls' challenging social experiences in early adolescence predict neural response to reward and depressive symptoms. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 8, 18-27.

Casement, M.D., Shaw, D.S., Sitnick, S.L., Musselman, S. & Forbes, E.E. (2015). Life stress in adolescence predicts early adult reward-related brain function and alcohol dependence. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, 10(3), 416-423.

Hall, T.H., Casement, M.D., Troxel, W.M., Matthews, K.A., Bromberger, J., Kravitz, H.M., Krafty, R.T., & Buysee, D.J. (2015). Chronic stress is prospectively associated with sleep in midlife women: The SWAN sleep study. SLEEP, 38(10), 1645-1654.

Casement, M.D., Keenan, K.E., Hipwell, A.E., Guyer, A.E., & Forbes, E.E. (2016). Neural reward processing mediates the relationship between insomnia symptoms and depression in adolescence. SLEEP, 39(2), 439-447.

Casement, M.D., Goldstein, T.R., Gratzmiller, S.M., & Franzen, P.L. (2018). Social stress response in adolescents with bipolar disorder. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 91, 159-168.