John JB Allen
Distinguished Professor
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Cognitive Science - GIDP
Professor, Psychology
Professor, Neuroscience - GIDP
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 621-7448
Work Summary
Depression is a major health problem that is often chronic or recurrent. Existing treatments have limited effectiveness, and are provided wihtout a clear indication that they will match a particular patient's needs. In this era of precision medicine, we strive to develop neurally-informed treatments for depression and related disorders.
Research Interest
Dr. Allen’s research spans several areas, but the main focus is the etiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. His work focuses on identifying risk factors for depression using electroencephalographic and autonomic psychophysiological measures, especially EEG asymmetry, resting state fMRI connectivity, and cardiac vagal control. Based on these findings, he is developing novel and neurally-informed treatments for mood and anxiety disorders, including Transcranial Ultrasound, EEG biofeedback, and Transcranial Direct Current and Transcranial Alternating Current stimulation. Other work includes understanding how emotion and emotional disorders influence the way we make decisions and monitor our actions. Keywords: Depression, Neuromodulation, EEG, Resting-state fMRI


J., J., & Iacono, W. G. (1997). A comparison of methods for the analysis of event-related potentials in deception detection. Psychophysiology, 34(2), 234-240.

PMID: 9090275;Abstract:

We previously reported that a Bayesian-based event-related potential memory assessment procedure (Allen, lacono, and Danielson, 1992. Psychophysiology, 29, 504-522) was highly accurate at identifying previously learned material, regardless of an individual's motivational incentive to conceal information. When a bootstrapping procedure (Farwell and Donchin, 1991. Psychophysiology, 28, 531-5475) is applied to these same data, greater motivational incentives appear to increase the accuracy of the procedure. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to examine these two procedures and a new procedure. ROC curves indicated that all three methods produce extremely high rates of classification accuracy and that the sensitivity of the bootstrapping procedure to motivational incentive is due to the particular cut points selected. One or the other method may be preferred depending upon incentive to deceive, the cost of incorrect decisions, and the availability of extra psychophysiological data.

Allen, J. J., Schnyer, R. N., & Hitt, S. K. (1998). The efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of major depression in women. Psychological Science, 9(5), 397-401.


The effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for major depression was examined in 38 women, randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups. Specific treatment involved acupuncture treatments for symptoms of depression; nonspecific treatment involved acupuncture for symptoms that were not clearly part of depression; a wait-list condition involved waiting without treatment for 8 weeks. The nonspecific and wait-list conditions were followed by specific treatment. Five women terminated treatment prematurely, 4 prior to the completion of the first 8 weeks. Following treatments specifically designed to address depression, 64% of the women (n = 33) experienced full remission. A comparison of the acute effect of the three 8-week treatment conditions (n = 34) showed that patients receiving specific acupuncture treatments improved significantly more than those receiving the placebo-like nonspecific acupuncture treatments, and marginally more than those in the wait-list condition. Results from this small sample suggest that acupuncture can provide significant symptom relief in depression, at rates comparable to those of psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy. Acupuncture may hold sufficient promise to warrant a larger scale clinical trial.

Mussel, P., Hewig, J., Allen, J. J., Coles, M. G., & Miltner, W. (2014). Smiling faces, sometimes they don't tell the truth: Facial expression in the ultimatum game impacts decision making and event-related potentials. Psychophysiology, 51, 358--363.
Accortt, E. E., & J., J. (2006). Frontal EEG asymmetry and premenstrual dysphoric symptomatology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 115(1), 179-184.

PMID: 16492109;Abstract:

Resting frontal electroencephalographic (EEG) asymmetry has been hypothesized to tap a diathesis toward depression or other emotion-related psychopathology. Frontal EEG asymmetry was assessed in college women who reported high (n = 12) or low (n = 11) levels of premenstrual negative affect. Participants were assessed during both the follicular and the late luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. Women reporting low premenstrual dysphoric symptomatology exhibited greater relative left frontal activity at rest than did women high in premenstrual dysphoric symptomatology, an effect that was not qualified by phase of cycle. Although women with extreme levels of symptomatology were assessed, the question of whether such symptoms qualified for premenstrual dysphoric disorder criteria was not assessed. These results are consistent with a diathesis-stress model for premenstrual dysphoric symptomatology. Copyright 2006 by the American Psychological Association.

Garriock, H. A., Allen, J. J., Delgado, P., Nahaz, Z., Kling, M. A., Carpenter, L., Burke, M., Burke, W., Schwartz, T., Marangell, L. B., Husain, M., Erickson, R. P., & Moreno, F. A. (2005). Lack of association of TPH2 exon XI polymorphisms with major depression and treatment resistance [3]. Molecular Psychiatry, 10(11), 976-977.