W. Kent Anger Lab

W. Kent Anger, PhD
W. Kent Anger, PhD

Research interests

Behavior 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 applies that training in the development of interventions to improve or implement Total Worker Health®, or workplace safety, health 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 primary focus of the development of our unique computer-based testing system, the Behavioral Assessment and Research System (BARS), and our unique computer-delivered (online) training system, cTRAIN, is on working populations with limited (often no) education before entering the workforce, in their home country or the US.  The systems have tested or training thousands of workers effectively, in the US and in other countries.  What makes each unique is that each has been built from the ground up to test/train workers with no computer experience or education, and our publications have demonstrated that capability in many different population samples, typically with testing or training in non-English languages, most often Spanish.  Immigrant workers make up a large proportion of those trained and tested.  And each training publication reports positive participant survey results that they liked the training.  The lab's unique methods, current projects, and collaboration opportunities are described below. See W. Kent Anger, PhD for appointment, education and biosketch information.

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).


cTRAIN, an interactive computer-based training program
cTRAIN, an interactive computer-based training program

The Lab's cTRAIN, an interactive computer-based training program, is available for providing training to people with a broad range 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. Training developed by grants to the lab for manager training on domestic violence overflow to work (right) and pesticide applicator training (below).

cTrain used in pesticide applicator training
pesticide applicator

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, and Spanish; 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.  An example is depicted in the picture of an Egyptian pesticide applicator.  BARS is available through collaboration with the lab or for licensing through an OHSU spinoff company, Northwest Education Training and Assessment (NwETA.com) that is described and depicted at the company's website.


Total Worker Health interventions

The lab seeks collaboration opportunities to develop training to improve safety, health and well-being in occupational populations.  Current international collaborations are ongoing in Saudi Arabia.