W. Kent Anger lab

Picture of Kent at science poster in 2013Behavior is fundamental to working safely 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 hazard prevention, skills acquisition, wellness 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 - OHSU/Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences
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

  • Magali Blanco, Research Assistant
  • Katie Vaughn, Research AssistantOffice phone number: (503) 494-2512

Research Projects

Funding Completed - now operating 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]

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.


The lab seeks collaboration opportunities to develop training to improve safety, health and wellness 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, Brazil.  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.

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 agricultural (orchards, vineyards), retail, construction, health care, food service/restaurant, information technology, banking, city and county government, and transportation industries/settings.  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.

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 conduct a randomized trial to evaluate its effectiveness in 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 Work Stress Survey and intervention project (a project of PNASH) is designed to compare stress measures in workers during times of high work demand (eg, harvest) and low work demand (eg, during pruning and thinning).  The second phase of the project is designed to develop and pilot test an 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

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 and the lab provides periodic training courses for these batteries at international meetings or individually as requested.

Planning and implementation of large-scale neurobehavioral and psychological field assessments of workplace or community populations (100s to 1000s; see publications under Drs. Anger and Rohlman'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 thus 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.
  • Graduate and Postdoctoral positions (periodic)
  • Interns and work-study students (when projects are available)
  • Stipends for summer applicants (available from the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences for Oregon residents/students)