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About The Center

The Center For Applied Psychophysiology and Self-regulation is an innovative presence within RIT's Institute for Health Sciences and Technology (IHST). The idea of CAPS grew out of conversations with RIT's President, Bill Destler, and his wife, clinical psychologist Rebecca Johnson, and Laurence I. Sugarman, then a Rochester community pediatrician. Dr. Destler and RIT were planning the Institute. Dr. Sugarman was looking for a platform from which to explore the potential for growth in the field of psychophysiological self-regulation to benefit youth in the Rochester community and beyond. Both envisioned programs that integrated health education, research, and clinical care with technology. CAPS was born in January 2011 under the direction of  Dr. Sugarman. Both President Destler and Dr. Sugarman note that, while not requisite, it did not hurt their collaboration that they both play the banjo.

Under the administrative umbrella of the Institute of Health Sciences and Technology CAPS has grown and developed rapidly to include programs that focus on (1) biosensor driven algorithms, apps and games that promote self-awareness and enhance self-regulation of the stress response; (2) stress reduction and coping for RIT students using biofeedback; (3) community parenting programs that incorporate stress-reduction for family’s at-risk due to developmental differences and poverty; and, (4) research into autonomic nervous system regulation in autism spectrum disorder.

Each of these areas of service and research includes educational opportunities for RIT students in research initiatives and co-op experiences. Dr. Sugarman also teaches biomedical science elective courses on applied psychophysiology and placebo research that spawn more opportunities for innovative independent study by students.

In these efforts CAPS collaborates with organizations throughout the community including the Easter Seals Diagnostic and Treatment Center, AutismUp, the Mental Health Counseling Program in the Wegman’s School of Nursing at St. John Fisher College, the Greater Rochester YMCA, and Rochester Regional Health.


CAPS will drive innovation in health and care by pioneering innovative, evidence-based strategies and technologies that promote wellness through psychophysiological (mind-body) awareness, adaptability and self-regulation.


CAPS will catalyze RIT’s international reputation for creatively integrating wellbeing through psychophysiological awareness and adaptability both within the institutional ecosystem and globally through its scholarship, research and service programs.


The values of our center continuously evolve with our progress and new collaborations. The following values emerge throughout all of the centers’ initiatives and programs: Innovation, Discovery, Health, Integrity, Access, Opportunity, and Learning.