W. Kent Anger lab

Picture of Kent at science poster in 2013Behavior is fundamental to working safely, well-being and living a healthy lifestyle, and it reflects integrated nervous system function.  Changes in behavior are sensitive indicators of nervous system dysfunction; psychological factors can interact with these dysfunctions. The lab's behavioral science research implements computer-based training based on behavioral education principles for safety or hazard prevention, skills acquisition, and well-being. In addition, our research detects and characterizes nervous system damage due to workplace and other exposures in populations of all ages using neurobehavioral and psychological testing methods.  The lab's unique methods, current projects, and collaboration opportunities are described below. See W. Kent Anger, PhD for appointment, education and biosketch information.

Primary Research Collaborators (MPIs or Co-I on others' grants)

Diane S. Rohlman, PhD - University of Iowa
Ryan Olson, PhD - OHSU/Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences
Leslie Hammer, PhD - Portland State University
Pam Lein, PhD - University of California at Davis
Jim Olson, PhD - University of Buffalo
Nancy Glass, PhD - The Johns Hopkins University
Rich Fenske, PhD - University of Washington

OHWC at-TWH in 2014

Laboratory Members and Staff

  • Jason Kyler-Yano, Research Assistant
  • Katie Vaughn, Senior Research Assistant
  • Office phone number (Kent): (503) 494-2512

Research Projects

Funding Completed - now completing publications through internal funding:
  • Partnership to Improve Workplace Safety for In-Home Care Workers (09/08 to 08/14) [N Glass, PI]
  • Evaluation of the Oregon Protective Leave Law for Victims of Violence (09/08 to 08/14) NIOSH [N Glass, PI]
  • Computer-based training in vineyards NIOSH (10/03-9/08) [K Anger, PI)]
  • Biomarkers of Organophosphorus Pesticide-Induced Neurotoxicity (6/08 to 3/12)  [WK Anger & PJ Lein, PIs]

Description of Current Research

The Supervisor Training in Construction project (in the OHWC) is designed to teach proven supervisor interaction skills and guide supervisors in construction to apply their new skills to increase healthy lifestyle behaviors & healthful and safe work practices in their employees, and then disseminate the training in a widely-available form. Behavior tracking software utilizing iPod Touch technology (HabiTrak) is provided to supervisors to help transfer the training to change employee behaviors (eg, safe work practices/healthy diet choices). The training is translated into Spanish to make it available for Latino and non-Latino supervisors (a project of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center). This project applies existing, proven and scalable technology to implement health promotion and health protection in the challenging environment of construction. The Total Worker Health Intervention in Agriculture project (a project of PNASH) is designed to develop and pilot test a Total Worker Health intervention to reduce stress in the workplace and at home.  Both projects are Total Worker Health (TWH) projects designed to reduce accidents and injuries and improve overall health and well-being.

IUPAT apprentices training

Workplace Interventions

We use our interactive computer-based training system, cTRAIN, to develop effective training programs for virtually any subject.  We have used cTRAIN in agriculture (orchards, vineyards), retail, construction, health care, food service/restaurant, information technology, banking, city and county government, and transportation industries/settings.  The project populations, reactions, and effect size of changes in knowledge and behavior are described at our NwETA website, with associated references. Collaboration is available with our lab at OHSU, or you can license our training system to develop your own training intervention at http://www.nweta.com.

Unique Training and Testing Systems

The laboratory is focused on workplace interventions to improve and maintain health, safety and wellbeing in the workforce.  We have, with federal funding, developed computer-based systems for providing training and administering neurobehavioral and psychological tests using uniquely simple, clear instructions (effective even for those with no education).


The Lab's cTRAIN, an interactive computer-based training program, is available for providing training to people with a broad Summer Intern Projectrange of education, including very limited education, in English, Spanish and Arabic (new languages can be added).  Training can be developed using BUILDER, cTRAIN's editing program. Training steps are simple, with frequent quizzes and feedback, followed by an overall final test. cTRAIN is available through collaboration with the lab or for licensing through an OHSU spinoff company, Northwest Education Training and Assessment (NwETA.com); cTRAIN is described and depicted at the company's website: http://www.nweta.com. Training developed by grants to the lab for manager training on domestic violence overflow to work (right) and pesticide applicator training (below).

Behavioral Assessment and Research System (BARS)

BARS tests measure attention, memory, learning, and motivation (Anger et al., 1996; Rohlman et al., 1996, 2003). They are drawn from neuropsychology, experimental psychology, and the animal literature. The simple, clear instructions are available in English, Arabic, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai; spoken instructions in these languages are available as an option. The tests are implemented on Windows PCs and a 9BUTTON response unit replaces the keyboard for response input. These tests are used to identify and characterize nervous system dysfunction, and we apply them to study neurotoxic exposures such as pesticides and solvents.  BARS is available through collaboration with the lab or for licensing

Spraying cotton fields in Egypt

through an OHSU spinoff company, Northwest Education Training and Assessment (NwETA.com), and it is described and depicted at the company's website: http://www.nweta.com.


Total Worker Health Interventions

The lab seeks collaboration opportunities to develop training to improve safety, health and well-being in occupational populations, and to study nervous system function and dysfunction using neurobehavioral and psychological test methods.  Major areas of specialization are described below.  Current international collaborations are ongoing in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt. 

Behavioral Neurotoxicology

Development, implementation and validation of neurobehavioral testing and behaviorally-based training  methods is a major theme of the laboratory. The laboratory has developed the BARS and HSS test systems described above and more completely at http://www.nweta.com.  The BARS testing system may be employed through collaborations with senior members of the laboratory or through contractual arrangements for outright purchase or per-person use. The laboratory provides data reports on a per-person basis for clinical applications.Testing in Egypt

Dr. Anger chaired the committee that recommended the ATSDR Adult Environmental Neurobehavioral Test Battery (AENTB), developed the AENTB Test Manual (Amler, Anger, Sizemore, 1995; available from Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences), and has trained AENTB Examiners for several ATSDR field evaluations. He also led the development of the Operational Guide and coordinated the 10-country cross-cultural assessment (Anger et al., 1993) of the World Health Organization-recommended Neurobehavioral Core Test Battery (NCTB). The NCTB and AENTB are the two consensus neurobehavioral test batteries to study neurotoxic disorders.

Prior international collaborations involving the World Health Organization Neurobehavioral Core Test Battery for which Dr. Anger led the 10-country cross-cultural study of the NCTB in 2300 unexposed controls administered in 9 different languages, including the People's Republic of China, Nicaragua, Hungary, Poland, Austria, France, Italy, Canada and the US.

Planning and implementation of large-scale neurobehavioral and psychological field assessments of workplace or community populations (100s to 1000s; see publications under Drs. Anger's Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences faculty pages) is a unique specialty of the laboratory. Most such studies are conducted by the laboratory either independently or as collaborators in more comprehensive projects.  The lab participates in a number of international projects (see projects at www.nweta.com).

The assessment of workplace and community populations exposed to neurotoxic chemicals or physical agents (e.g., heat) is the second major focus of the laboratory. As noted above, the laboratory typically leads these efforts but may also assume a variety of roles in support of more comprehensive projects. Consultation is available.

Employment Opportunities in the Laboratory

Research Assistant/Research Associate positions are advertised on OHSU's Human Resources web page or Craig's  List; unsolicited vitae are reviewed upon receipt.