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Welcome to the
Choice-making And Computer Technology for Unipolar depression (CACTUs) Lab!

Palo Alto University

What we do


Decision-making of individuals with depression

We seek to better understand the decision-making of depressed individuals, both in highly consequential decisions, such as decisions about treatment and health, and in everyday decisions. We use tools from the fields of judgment and decision-making and behavior economics to inform our work.


Internet-based resources for depression

Resources to help individuals with depression and other mental health problems are unavailable in most parts of the world. We aim to develop, evaluate, and deploy automated internet-based resources for depression to offer services to individuals in need.


Other topics

We also do other research that is broadly connected to depression, decisions, and technology, such as suicide, cultural factors in mental health, and healthcare utilization.

The Team

Current members

Felipe Barba
6th year

Research: Ethnic and Sexual minority mental health; technology interventions.
Clinical: Family Work; Narrative Therapy; Psychoanalysis theory 

Bethany Young
6th year

Research: Morality, depression, and other factors that influence jury decision-making
Clinical: Assessment and Crisis Intervention within forensic setting

Alex Curland
5th year

Research: Internet interventions for mental health; treatment adherence, engagement, and utilization
Clinical: Serious mental illness; psychotic disorders

Chelle Tran
5th year

Research: Treatment-seeking and adherence; Ethnic minorities; Sexual minorities
Clinical: Transitional age youth and young adults; Outreach; Prevention; Early intervention

Jamie Giglio
5th year

Interests: Forensic psychology, specifically working with those incarcerated to end the "revolving door" of reentry into the justice system; reducing recidivism rates

Erica Hamlin
4th year

Research: Decision making, Cognitive Bias, Forensic Assessment
Clinical: Substance use disorders, Serious mental illness, Forensics, Assessment 

Anna Freedland
4th year

Research: Cultural influence on self-harm behaviors and attitudes toward depression, suicide, and treatment seeking
Clinical: Serious mental illness; forensic; gero; substance use 

Danni Goodmann
4th year

Research: Internet interventions for mental health; treatment seeking in individuals who have experienced sexual assault
Clinical: Trauma; depression; psychodynamic theory 

Sariah Daouk
3rd year

Research: International Psychology; Global Mental Health
Clinical: Mood Disorders

Kalpana Sundaram
3rd year

Interests: Technology and mental health

Megan Sullivan
3rd year

Research: Animal-Assisted Interventions; Decision-Making in Current and Former Foster Youth
Clinical: Child Psychology and serious mental illness

Kaylin Jones
2nd year

Research: Internet interventions for mental health
Clinical: Depression, anxiety, adolescents and emerging adults; 

Eunice Magat
2nd year

Research: Interventions to further support children, parents, and educators associated with Special Education

Clinical: Child Psychology and Neurodevelopmental Disorders; 

Eric Uhl
2nd year

Research: Suicide, crisis interventions
Clinical: Serious mental Illness



Vidya Bharat

Interests: Internet Interventions; Global Mental Health; Mental health issues pertaining to Substance use and Domestive Violence


Danielle Spangler

Research: suicide and suicide prevention; internet interventions
Clinical: Trauma; PTSD; older adults

Ashley Baratz

Interests: Internet interventions for mental health; treatment decision makings; global mental health

Vidya Bharat

Interests: Internet Interventions; Global Mental Health; Mental health issues pertaining to Substance use and Domestive Violence


Yan Leykin 
Associate Professor 

Research: judgment and decision-making in depression; cognitive behavioral interventions; internet interventions and other technology-based resources for mental health; suicide
Clinical: depression, OCD

Our Projects

Lab projects



BetterBET (Better Behaviors, Emotions, Thoughts) is a fully automated, interaction, self-pace eight-lesson depression management course based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.


Mood Screener

An automated depression and suicidality screeener, available in 5 languages. Participants can sign up for monthly re-screening, for 12 months.


Ultimatum Game

Evaluate the decisions of individuals with symptoms of psychopathology in an economics experiment.  

Student-led projects


BetterBET gamification

Lead: Alex Curland

Can additing gamification elements improve adherence and engagement of users of an automated depression intervention?


Juror Decision-Making

Lead: Bethany Young

Does depression influence the decisions made by jurors, and can it make jurors more succeptible to influence?


Representation of minorities in stories

Lead: Felipe Barba

Do people identifying as minorities prefer to see their identities reflected in the media?


Planned transition in a student therapy clinic

Lead: Chelle Tran

What are the effects of planned transitions on clinical outcomes and treatment adherence? 


Effect of depression on eyewithess identification

Lead: Jamie Giglio

Does depression interfere with the ability to make an accurate and confident eyewitness identification? 


Micro-inverventions for sexual assault survivors

Lead: Danni Goodmann

Can automated micro-interventions help manage distress and improve mood for female sexual assault survivors?


Mental health and risk determination 

Lead: Erica Hamlin

Does depression affect risk determination among forensic evaluators?


Perception of depression treatment among Russians and Americans

Lead: Anna Freedland

Are there differences in the perceptions of depression and its treatment between Russians and Americans?

Past Projects


Internet-Based Safety Plan

Lead: Danielle Spangler

An interactive and self-guided Internet-Based Safety Plan may be a useful tool for individuals at risk for suicide.


Mental Health among Indian IT Professionals

Lead: Vidya Bharat

IT professionals residing in India struggle with high rates of mental health difficulties, and would prefer digital interventions.


Decisions about depression treatment in Latin America

Lead: Ashley Elefant

Understanding considerations of depressed individuals in Latin America regarding treatment-seeking for depression.


Does depression influence decisions about joining clinical trials?

Depressed individuals are less rational when deciding on acceptable level of risk when joining clinical trials compared to individuals with chronic pain.


Depression Management Course

A fully-automated eight-lesson internet-based intervetnion for depression can reduce symptoms and improve depression-related self-efficacy, with improvements sustaining over several months. 


MINT: Mood-Improving Internet Tools

Micro-interventions for depression can improve mood and reduce distress. 


Treatment Decisions

Decisions regarding whether to seek depression treatment are influenced by understanding of treatments, goals for improvement, knowing others in treatment, and various other factors. 


National Institute of Mental Health 
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
CTSI Strategic Opportunities Support
Google AdWords
RWJ Health Disparities Working Group
UCSF Academic Senate 

Jessica Beeghly 
Molly Brennan
Juan Cabrera
Omar Contreras
Megan Davis
Katherine Giles
Supria Gill
Maggie Gross
Garrett Howard 
Uri Kugel 
Nida Naushad
Tara Rutter
Maria Fujiye
Carly Haeck
Melissa Latham
Ruchita Patel
Amala Shetty
Sarah Silva 

Rania Awaad
Suzanne Barakat
Alinne Barrera
Laura Dunn
Monica Garza
Nancy Liu
Ricardo Muñoz
Jedidiah Siev
Leandro Torres 


You can request publications below

* = student or research assistant from the CACTUs lab

  • Siev, J., Lit, K., Leykin, Y. (In Press). Perceived Decision-Making Styles Among Individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive and Hoarding Disorders. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.
  • Addington, E. L., Cheung, E. O., Bassett, S. M., Kwok, I., Schuette, S. A., Shiu, E., Yang, D., Cohn, M., Leykin, Y., Saslow, L. R., Moskowitz, J. T., (In Press). Feasibility and enhancement of an online intervention to improve emotion regulation in people with elevated depressive symptoms. Journal of Affective Disorders.
  • Dickter, B., Bunge, E. L., Brown, L., Leykin, Y., Furay, E. E., Van Voorhees, B., Marko, M., Gladstone, T. (2019). Risk Factors for Suicide and Online Depression Prevention for Adolescents. mHealth, 5, 11.
  • *Spangler, D. A., Muñoz, R. F., Chu, J., & Leykin, Y. (In Press). Perceived utility of the Internet-Based Safety Plan in a sample of Internet users screening positive for suicidality. Crisis.
  • Kaplan, C. P., Siegel, A., Leykin, Y., Palmer, N. R., Borno, H., Bielenberg, J., Livaudais-Toman, J., Ryan, C., Small, E. J. (2018). A bilingual, Internet-based, targeted advertising campaign for prostate cancer clinical trials: Assessing the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of a novel recruitment strategy. Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, 12, 60-67.
  • Cheung, E. O, Addington, E. L., Bassett, S. M., Schuette, S. A., Shiu, E. W., Cohn, M. A., Leykin, Y., Saslow, L. R., Moskowitz. J. T. (2018). A Self-Paced, Web-Based, Positive Emotion Skills Intervention for Reducing Symptoms of Depression: Protocol for Development and Pilot Testing of MARIGOLD. JMIR research protocols 7, e10494.
  • Bunge, E., Cook, H. M., Bond, M., Williamson, R. E., Cano, M., Barrera, A. Z., Leykin, Y., Muñoz, R. F. (2018). Comparing Amazon Mechanical Turk with unpaid internet resources in online clinical trials. Internet Interventions, 12, 68-73.
  • Beard, C. L., Stephens, T. N., Bunge, E. L., Leykin, Y., Muñoz, R. F. (2017). Mood management effects of a brief behavioral activation internet intervention. Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science, 2, 163-170.
  •  *Naushad, N., Dunn, L. B., Muñoz, R. F., Leykin, Y. (In press). Depression worsens experience of pain stigma for chronic pain sufferers. Journal of Affective Disorders.
  • *Gill. S. K., Muñoz, R. F., Leykin, Y. (In Press). The influence of perceived stress and depression on suicide-related beliefs in Caucasian and Indian adults. Crisis.
  • Leykin, Y., Dunn, L. B., Muñoz, R. F. (2017). The effect of depression on the decision to join a clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85, 751-756.
  • *Elefant, A., Contreras, O., Bunge, E. L., Muñoz, R. F., Leykin, Y. (2017). Micro-interventions produce immediate, but not lasting benefits in mood and distress. Internet Interventions, 10, 10-14.
  • Muñoz, R. F., Leykin, Y., Barrera, A. Z., Torres, L. D., Brown, C. H., Bunge, E. L. (2017). The impact of phone calls on follow-up rates in an online depression prevention study. Internet Interventions, 8, 10-14.
  • *Rutter, T. M., *Gross, M. S., Barakat, S., Dilley, J. W., Muñoz, R. F., & Leykin, Y. (2016). Sexual orientation and help-seeking for symptoms of depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 206, 87-93.
  • Bunge, E., Williamson, R. E., Cano, M., Leykin, Y., Muñoz, R. F. (2016). Mood management effects of brief unsupported Internet interventions. Internet Interventions. 5, 36-43.
  • Kaplan, C. P., Nápoles, A. M., Narine, S., Gregorich, S., Livaudais-Toman, J., Nguyen, T., Leykin, Y., Roach, M., Small E. J. (2015). Knowledge and attitudes regarding clinical trials and willingness to participate among prostate cancer patients. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 45, 443-448. PMID: 26435199
  • Aguilera, A., Schueller, S. M., Leykin, Y. (2015). Daily mood ratings via text message as a proxy for clinic based depression assessment. Journal of Affective Disorders, 175, 471-474. PMID: 25679202
  • Muñoz, R. F. Sorensen, J. L., Areán, P. A., Lieberman, A., Fields, A., Gruber, V. A, Hall, S. M, Kramer, J. M., Leykin, Y. McBurnett, K., McQuaid, J. R., Pfiffner, L. J., Prochaska, J. J., Scheidt, S. D., Shumway, M., Tsoh, J. Y., van Horn, P., Sosa, H., & McNiel, D. E. (2015). Scientist–Practitioner Training at the Internship and Postdoctoral Level: Reflections Over Three Decades. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 9, 105.
  • *Liu, N. H., *Contreras, O., Muñoz, R. F., & Leykin, Y. (2014). Assessing suicide attempts and depression among Chinese speakers over the internet. Crisis. 35, 322-329. PMID: 25115490
  • Leykin, Y., Muñoz, R. F., *Contreras, O., *Latham, M. D. (2014). Results from a trial of an unsupported internet intervention for depressive symptoms. Internet Interventions, 1, 175-181.
  • *Gill, S., *Contreras, O., Muñoz, R. F., & Leykin, Y. (2014). Participant retention in an automated online monthly depression rescreening program: patterns and predictors. Internet Interventions, 1, 20-25. PMID: 25045623
  • *Gross, M. S., *Liu, N. H., Muñoz, R. F., *Contreras, O., & Leykin, Y. (2014). Using Google AdWords for international multilingual recruitment to health research websites. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16, e18. PMID: 24446166
  • Leykin, Y., Aguilera, A., Pérez-Stable, E. J., & Muñoz, R. F. (2013). Prompting depression treatment seeking among smokers: A comparison of participants from six countries in an internet stop smoking RCT. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 31, 238-247.
  • Schueller, S. M., Leykin, Y., Pérez-Stable, E. J., & Muñoz, R. F. (2013). Selection of intervention components in an Internet Stop Smoking participant preference trial: Beyond randomized controlled trials. Psychiatry Research, 205, 159-64. PMID: 22985547
  • Geraghty, A. W. A., Torres, L. D., Leykin, Y., & Muñoz, R. F., (2013). Understanding attrition from international internet health interventions: A step towards global eHealth. Health Promotion International, 28, 442-452. PMID: 22786673
  • Fisher, C. E., Dunn, L. B., Christopher, P, P., Holzheimer, P. E., Leykin, Y., Mayberg, H. S., Lisanby, S., H., Appelbaum, P. S. (2012). The ethics of research on deep brain stimulation for depression: decisional capacity and therapeutic misconception. Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 1265, 69-79. PMID: 22812719
  • Muñoz, R. F., Aguilera, A., Schueller, S. M., Leykin, Y., & Pérez-Stable, E. J. (2012). From online randomized controlled trials to participant preference studies: Morphing the San Francisco Stop Smoking site into a worldwide smoking cessation resource. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 14, e64. PMID: 22739225
  • Aguilera, A., Leykin, Y., Adler, N. E., & Muñoz, R. F. (2012). Assessing the impact of relative social position and absolute community resources on depression and obesity among smokers. American Journal of Community Psychology, 50, 211-6. PMID: 22278773
  • Leykin, Y., Thekdi, S. M., Shumay, D. M., Muñoz, R. F., Riba, M., & Dunn, L. B. (2012). Internet interventions for improving psychological well-being in psycho-oncology: Review and recommendations. Psycho-Oncology. 21, 1016-25. PMID: 21608075
  • Muñoz, R. F., Beardsley, W. R., & Leykin, Y. (2012). Major depression can be prevented. American Psychologist, 67, 285-292. PMID: 22583342
  • Christopher, P. P., Leykin, Y., Appelbaum, P. S., Holtzheimer, P. E., Mayberg, H. S., & Dunn, L. B. (2012). Enrolling in deep brain stimulation research for depression: Influences on decision making. Depression and Anxiety, 29, 139-46. PMID: 22095837
  • Hilton, J. F., Barkoff, L., Chang, Olivia, Ratanaeongsa, N., Sarkar, U., Leykin, Y., Muñoz, R. F., Thom, D. H., & Kahn, J. A. (2012). A cross-sectional study of barriers to personal health record use among patients attending a safety-net clinic. PLoS One, 7, e31888. PMID: 22363761
  • Leykin, Y., Muñoz, R. F. & *Contreras, O. (2012). Are consumers of Internet health information “cyberchondriacs”? Characteristics of 24,965 users of a depression screening site. Depression and Anxiety. 29, 71-77. PMID: 21681872
  • Leykin, Y., Aguilera, A., Torres, L. D., Pérez-Stable, E. J., & Muñoz, R. F. (2012). Interpreting the outcomes of automated Internet-based trials: Example of an international smoking cessation study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 14, e5. PMID: 22314016
  • Leykin, Y., Christopher, P. P. Holtzheimer, P. E., Appelbaum, P. S., Mayberg, H. S., Lisanby, S. H., & Dunn, L. B. (2011). Participants’ perceptions of deep brain stimulation research for treatment-resistant depression: Risks, benefits, and therapeutic misconception. AJOB Primary Research. 2, 33-41.
  • Leykin, Y., Weingardt, K, R. & Cucciare, M. A. (2011). Differential effects of online training on job-related burnout among substance abuse counselors. Journal of Substance Use, 16, 127-135.
  • Leykin, Y., Aguilera, A., Torres, L. D., & Muñoz, R. F. (2011). Factor structure of CES-D delivered on the Internet in Spanish and English. Psychiatry Research, 185, 269-274. PMID: 20684849
  • Leykin, Y., *Roberts, C. S., & DeRubeis, R. J. (2011). Decision-making and depressive symptomatology. Cognitive Therapy & Research, 35, 333-341. PMID: 21841849
  • Muñoz, R. F., Cuijpers, P., Smit, P. Barrera, A. Z., & Leykin, Y. (2010). Prevention of major depression. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 6, 181-212. PMID: 20192789
  • Leykin, Y. & DeRubeis, R. J. (2010). Decision-making styles and depressive symptomatology. Judgment and Decision Making, 5, 506-515.
  • Leykin, Y. & DeRubeis, R. J. (2009). Allegiance in psychotherapy outcome research: Separating association from bias. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 18, 54-65.
  • Leykin, Y., DeRubeis, R. J., Shelton, R. C., & Amsterdam, J. D. (2007). Changes in patients’ beliefs about the causes of their depression following successful treatment. Cognitive Therapy and Research. 31, 437-449.
  • Leykin, Y., DeRubeis, R. J., Gallop, R, Amsterdam, J. D., Shelton, R. C., & Hollon, S. D. (2007). The relation of patients’ treatment preferences to outcome in a randomized clinical trial. Behavior Therapy. 38, 209-217. PMID: 17697846
  • Leykin, Y., Amsterdam, J. D., DeRubeis, R. J., Gallop, R., Shelton, R. C., & Hollon, S. D. (2007). Progressive resistance to SSRI therapy but not to cognitive therapy in the treatment of moderate to severe major depressive episode. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 75, 267-76. PMID: 20595412
  • Neylan, T. C., Lenoci, M. A., Maglione M. L., Rosenlicht, N. Z., Leykin, Y., Metzler, T. J., Schoenfeld, F. B., & Marmar, C. R. (2003). The effect of nefazodone on subjective and objective sleep quality in post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 64, 445-50. PMID: 12716248

Request papers

If you are interested in any of these publications, please write to us using the form below.  


1791 Arastradero Rd.
Palo Alto, CA 94304


Email: yleykin {AT} Phone: 650-417-2017