Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

faculty photo

An-Li Wang

Department: Psychiatry

Contact information
3535 Market Street Suite 500
Philadelphia, PA 19104
B.Sc. (Sports Medicine)
Shanghai University of Sports, 2002.
M.Sc. (Physiology)
University of Oxford, 2006.
Ph.D. (Neuroscience )
University of Oxford, 2011.
Post-Graduate Training
Martin Fishbein Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow, Neuroscience and Communication, Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania , 2011-2015.
Permanent link
> Perelman School of Medicine   > Faculty   > Details

Description of Research Expertise

1. Neuroscience and public health communications. Televised public service announcement (PSA) or health messages are a key component of health campaigns promoting desired behaviors in general public. However, their impact in the field has been modest at best, despite strong theoretical basis and extensive cross-sectional surveys. Thus, better understanding in the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the brain processing of persuasive information and more efficient ways to evaluate the effectiveness of these messages are urgently needed. I was among the first to apply neuroscience knowledge and methodology to study public health communications. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), I demonstrated that the key health communications concepts of message sensation value and argument strength had brain correlates that predicted the impact of anti-smoking PSAs on smoking behavior, indexed by the urine cotinine level. The high translational significance of this study was highlighted in the NIDA Notes and the Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Also, I conducted electroencephalograph (EEG) and fMRI studies investigating the neurobiological effects of emotional graphic cigarette warning labels (GWLs) on cognition and behavioral correlates of smoking in adult smokers, as the debate surrounding graphic warnings was evolving. These findings provided the first biological evidence supporting that emotional salience is essential to the effectiveness of GWLs and is likely to influence the future regulation of tobacco product packaging in the US. Recently, I received a K99/R00 award from NICHD to extend my work from adults to adolescents, who are the population at highest risk for developing nicotine dependence.

2. Effect of opioid antagonist treatment on cue reactivity and social cognition. Opioid antagonist treatment has been gaining acceptance as an alternative to opioid maintenance treatment of opioid use disorder in the US and worldwide. Yet, its effect on cue reactivity (an important indicator of relapse) and social cognition such as caregiving remains largely unknown. My colleagues and I used a validated cognitive probe to study the effects of long-acting preparation of an opioid antagonist naltrexone on the brain and behavioral response to baby schema in men and women with chronic opioid use disorder, as well as studied the predictive value of neural activities in respond to drug-related cues to treatment adherence. Our studies provided preliminary data on an understudied aspect of opioid addiction and opioid antagonist treatment response. We found that opioid antagonist treatment modulates the brain fMRI response to drug-related cues and that adherence to treatment can be predicted by the baseline brain fMRI response to drug related cues.

Selected Publications

Wang AL, Lowen SB, Elman I, Shi Z, Fairchild VP, Bouril A, Gur RC, Langleben DD.: Sustained opioid antagonism modulates striatal sensitivity to baby schema in opioid use disorder. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment S0740-5472(16): 30469-X, 2017 Notes: in press.

Shi Z, Wang AL, Aronowitz CA, Romer D, Langleben DD: Individual Differences in the Processing of Smoking-Cessation Video Messages: An Imaging Genetics Study. Biological psychology 128: 125-131, 2017.

Shi Z, Wang AL, Langleben DD: Playing it safe: a video game probing the relationship between addiction, gender, and avoidance. The Journal of clinical psychiatry 77(3): 395-7, 2016.

Wang AL, Lowen SB, Shi Z, Bissey B, Metzger DS, Langleben DD: Targeting modulates audiences' brain and behavioral responses to safe sex video ads. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience 11(10): 1650-7, 2016.

Langleben DD, Hakun JG, Seelig D, Wang AL, Ruparel K, Bilker WB, Gur RC: Polygraphy and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Lie Detection: A Controlled Blind Comparison Using the Concealed Information Test. The Journal of clinical psychiatry 77(10): 1372-1380, 2016.

Wang AL, Lowen SB, Romer D, Giorno M, Langleben DD: Emotional reaction facilitates the brain and behavioural impact of graphic cigarette warning labels in smokers. Tobacco control 24(3): 225-32, 2015.

Wang AL, Romer D, Elman I, Turetsky BI, Gur RC, Langleben DD.: Emotional graphic cigarette warning labels reduce the electrophysiological brain response to smoking cues. Addiction biology. Addiction biology 20(2): 368-76, 2015.

Wang AL, Elman I, Lowen SB, Blady SJ, Lynch KG, Hyatt JM, O'Brien CP, Langleben DD: Neural correlates of adherence to extended-release naltrexone pharmacotherapy in heroin dependence. Translational psychiatry 17(5): e531, 2015.

Seelig D, Wang AL, Jagannathan K, Loughead JW, Blady SJ, Childress AR, Romer D, Langleben DD.: Low message sensation health promotion videos are better remembered and activate areas of the brain associated with memory encoding. PloS one 9(11): e113256, 2014.

Romer D, Jamieson PE, Bushman BJ, Bleakley A, Wang A, Langleben D, Jamieson KH.: Parental desensitization to violence and sex in movies. Pediatrics 134(5): 877-84, 2014.

back to top
Last updated: 12/10/2017
The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
Back to Top