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PHYS2024PANDA61113 PHYS

Tiny Dots, Big Feelings: Graphene Quantum Dots Sniffing Out Dopamine

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Mudit Panda Physics & Astronomy Tejas Sukesh Physics & Astronomy Ugur Topkiran Physics & Astronomy Alina Valimukhametova Physics & Astronomy
Advisor(s): Anton Naumov Physics & Astronomy
Location: Third Floor, Table 4, Position 2, 11:30-1:30

Graphene quantum dots (GQDs) is an emerging nanocarbon platform that is now actively utilized for therapeutic applications. Their increasing popularity arises due to relatively high biocompatibility, water solubility, optical properties enabling multi-color fluorescence imaging and the ease of functionalization with a variety of therapeutic agents. Such properties pave the way for a variety of imaging and sensing applications. Herein, we are utilizing rGQDs (reduced graphene quantum dots) synthesized top down from reduced graphene oxide for dopamine sensing. Detecting dopamine can provide insights about the neural health and the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain. However, due to the presence of dopamine receptors throughout our body, this will also help assess other vital functions including secretion of pituitary hormones [1], gut motility [2], immunomodulatory effects in inflammation-related diseases [3][4] and cardiovascular effects (dopamine can act as both autocrine or paracrine compound in the mammalian heart) [5]. In our work rGQD near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence appears to react proportionally to dopamine concentration within the range of 1000ng/ml – 1ng/ml as assessed with NIR fluorescence imaging of dopamine/rGQD interactions on cotton discs and biocompatible gels as well as with NIR fluorescence spectroscopy. This rapid NIR response and the capability of dopamine sensing in gel matrix suggests the potential for detection of blood-relevant dopamine concentrations in vivo, which will be explored with GQD-based implantable sensors. In addition to the development of a novel non-invasive dopamine sensing mechanism, the present study will aid in gaining valuable insight into GQD properties in vivo and their potential for in vivo analyte detection.
References:
1. Nira Ben-Jonathan, Robert Hnasko, Dopamine as a Prolactin (PRL) Inhibitor, Endocrine Reviews, Volume 22, Issue 6, 1 December 2001, Pages 724–763, https://doi.org/10.1210/edrv.22.6.0451
2. Graeme Eisenhofer, Anders Åneman, Peter Friberg, Douglas Hooper, Lars Fåndriks, Hans Lonroth, Béla Hunyady, Eva Mezey, Substantial Production of Dopamine in the Human Gastrointestinal Tract, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 82, Issue 11, 1 November 1997, Pages 3864–3871, https://doi.org/10.1210/jcem.82.11.4339
3. Channer B, Matt SM, Nickoloff-Bybel EA, Pappa V, Agarwal Y, Wickman J, Gaskill PJ. Dopamine, Immunity, and Disease. Pharmacol Rev. 2023 Jan;75(1):62-158. doi: 10.1124/pharmrev.122.000618. Epub 2022 Dec 8. PMID: 36757901; PMCID: PMC9832385.
4. Feng YF and Lu Y (2021) Immunomodulatory Effects of Dopamine in Inflammatory Diseases. Front. Immunol. 12:663102. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.663102
5. Neumann J, Hofmann B, Dhein S, Gergs U. Role of Dopamine in the Heart in Health and Disease. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Mar 6;24(5):5042. doi: 10.3390/ijms24055042. PMID: 36902474; PMCID: PMC10003060.

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PHYS2024SRIVASTAVA9783 PHYS

A mathematical model of triple viral infection

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Saanvi Srivastava Physics & Astronomy
Advisor(s): Hana Dobrovolny Physics & Astronomy
Location: Third Floor, Table 3, Position 3, 1:45-3:45

This study addresses the escalating concern over the interaction of multiple respiratory viruses by introducing a mathematical model to analyze triple infection dynamics involving influenza (IAV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and SARS-CoV-2. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of RSV, understanding the dynamics of triple infections is critical for public health preparedness. Comprehending the interactions among these viruses is crucial for improving our capacity to forecast and curb disease outbreaks. The central question addressed in this study is how variations in infection rates influence the duration and maximum population size of each virus in a triple infection scenario. Prior research has explored coinfections involving two respiratory viruses, yet triple infections, especially among adults, remain infrequent and poorly elucidated. The urgency to address these questions arises from the potential for overwhelming hospitals and exacerbating disease burden, especially in vulnerable populations. By developing a mathematical model to analyze triple infections, this research aims to provide insights that can inform public health strategies and mitigate the impact of respiratory virus outbreaks. Through extensive simulations, the study evaluates how variations in infection rates influence the duration and maximum population size of each virus. The findings unveil intriguing patterns: while SARS-CoV-2 demonstrates remarkable resilience across various infection rates, influenza and RSV display more nuanced responses, exhibiting sensitivity to changes in transmission rates.

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PHYS2024SUKESH15742 PHYS

Cryo Glow: Unveiling the Chilling Brilliance of Graphene Quantum Dots

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Tejas Sukesh Physics & Astronomy Dustin Johnson Physics & Astronomy Ugur Topkiran Physics & Astronomy
Advisor(s): Anton Naumov Physics & Astronomy
Location: First Floor, Table 3, Position 2, 1:45-3:45

Graphene Quantum Dots (GQDs), with their outstanding optoelectronic, chemical, and bio-compatible properties serve as versatile materials for various imaging applications. Intriguing optical properties at ultralow cryogenic temperatures have been observed in other carbon-based nanomaterials suggesting a potential for similar behavior in GQDs. This study explores GQD fluorescence across the visible and near-infrared spectral regions at temperatures ranging from ambient (300 K) down to cryogenic (76K) via experimental measurements supported by complementary DFT calculations. Our findings demonstrate a decreasing linear relationship between integrated density and temperature making GQDs a viable candidate for applications in low-temperature imaging.

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PHYS2024TOPKIRAN17475 PHYS

The Secret Life of Graphene Quantum Dot Endocytosis

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Ugur C. Topkiran Physics & Astronomy Giridhar Akkaraju Biology William Burnett Chemistry & Biochemistry Jeffrey Coffer Chemistry & Biochemistry Abby Dorsky Physics & Astronomy Himish Paul Physics & Astronomy Olivia Sottile Physics & Astronomy Alina Valimukhametova Physics & Astronomy Diya Vashani Physics & Astronomy
Advisor(s): Anton Naumov Physics & Astronomy
Location: Second Floor, Table 9, Position 1, 11:30-1:30

Graphene quantum dots (GQDs) have emerged as a forerunner of carbon nano-biotechnology due to their multifunctional delivery and imaging capabilities as they exhibit fluorescence in the visible and near-infrared, high biocompatibility, and water solubility. These properties put GQDs forward as a compelling drug delivery platform that has already been utilized in a variety of applications including the delivery of chemotherapeutics, antibiotics as well as siRNA and CRISPR-based gene therapy. However, cellular entry pathways of this nanomaterial still remain largely undefined. In a number of studies describing GQD cellular internalization different and, often, conflicting results have been presented due to surveying only few endocytosis inhibitors and disregarding their potential off-target pathways. Understanding the cell internalization routes of GQDs is crucial while delivering drugs in different types of cell lines. Herein, we performed a holistic approach to cell uptake studies on GQDs of different charges by the comparative study of their preferred endocytosis paths in non-cancerous (HEK-293) and cancerous (HeLa) cell lines. The concentration and cell viability of GQDs were determined by MTT assays, while their endocytosis paths were investigated through confocal fluorescence microscopy on cells treated for up to 24 hours. The potential for GQD interactions with the cell membrane was also examined via zeta (ζ) potential measurements. Our findings provide insights into the internalization mechanisms of the GQDs into cell membranes of healthy and cancer cells. The optimization of these mechanisms can serve for the enhancement of a variety of novel GQD applications in biomedicine including therapeutic delivery, disease detection through sensing as well as diagnostic imaging.

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PHYS2024VALIMUKHAMETOVA58360 PHYS

Shine bright like a d̶i̶a̶m̶o̶n̶d̶ graphene quantum dot: Near-infrared-emissive graphene quantum dots for multiplex bioimaging

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Alina Valimukhametova Physics & Astronomy Jeffery Coffer Chemistry & Biochemistry Abby Dorsky Physics & Astronomy Olivia Fannon Physics & Astronomy Olivia Sottile Physics & Astronomy Ugur Topkiran Physics & Astronomy
Advisor(s): Anton Naumov Physics & Astronomy
Location: Third Floor, Table 4, Position 3, 11:30-1:30

Due to high tissue penetration depth and low autofluorescence backgrounds, near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging has recently become an advantageous diagnostic technique used in a variety of fields. However, most of the NIR fluorophores do not have therapeutic delivery capabilities, exhibit low photostabilities, and raise toxicity concerns. To address these issues, we developed and tested five types of biocompatible graphene quantum dots (GQDs) exhibiting spectrally-separated fluorescence in the NIR range of 928–1053 nm with NIR excitation. Their optical properties in the NIR are attributed to either rare-earth metal dopants (Ho-NGQDs, Yb-NGQDs, Nd-NGQDs) or defect-states (nitrogen doped GQDS (NGQDs), reduced graphene oxides) as verified by Hartree-Fock calculations. Moderate up to 1.34% quantum yields of these GQDs are well-compensated by their remarkable >4 h photostability. At the biocompatible concentrations of up to 0.5–2 mg ml−1 GQDs successfully internalize into HEK-293 cells and enable in vitro imaging in the visible and NIR. Tested all together in HEK-293 cells five GQD types enable simultaneous multiplex imaging in the NIR-I and NIR-II shown for the first time in this work for GQD platforms. Substantial photostability, spectrally-separated NIR emission, and high biocompatibility of five GQD types developed here suggest their promising potential in multianalyte testing and multiwavelength bioimaging of combination therapies.

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PHYS2024VASHANI20311 PHYS

Luminous Odyssey: NGQDs Light the Way for Alzheimer's Drug Delivery

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Diya Vashani Physics & Astronomy Himish Paul Physics & Astronomy
Advisor(s): Anton Naumov Physics & Astronomy
Location: Basement, Table 9, Position 2, 11:30-1:30

Graphene quantum dots (GQDs) represent the forefront of contemporary research within the domain of biophysics. Known for their innumerable applications, these nanoparticles have remarkable functionalities in cellular imaging and drug delivery applications. In our research, we combine NGQDs (Nitrogen-doped GQDs) with the ligand L2 to create a drug delivery system for L2, an anti-Alzheimer’s drug. L2 faces challenges in traversing the blood-brain barrier (BBB) due to its inherent properties. However, the BBB is permeable to NGQDs due to their small size. Hence, we are using NGQDs as a vehicle to facilitate the transport of L2 across the BBB. Furthermore, the intrinsic fluorescence of NGQDs within the body enables us to safely monitor and track the hybrid system, ensuring its successful delivery to the targeted organ – the brain.

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PHYS2024VAZQUEZ34603 PHYS

Dust in the Smith Cloud? A UV Investigation into the Smith Cloud’s Gas-Phase Abundance Patterns

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Johanna Vazquez Physics & Astronomy
Advisor(s): Kat Barger Physics & Astronomy

The Smith Cloud is a high-velocity cloud (HVC) on its final approach to the Milky Way galaxy
and shows evidence of interaction with the Milky Way’s disk. We investigate the gas-phase chemical depletion patterns in the Smith Cloud using UV absorption-line observations toward two background QSOs taken with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST)/Cosmic Origin Spectrograph (COS) G130M grating. We also use high signal-to-noise H i 21-cm emission-line spectra that were taken with the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). We find strong evidence of silicon gas-phase depletion, with [Si/S] = −0.74(+0.26)(−0.27) and [Si/O] ≲ −0.30, implying a possible presence of dust containing silicon within the Smith Cloud. We additionally find evidence of near-solar metallicity within the Smith Cloud ([S/H] = +0.08 ± 0.09 ± 0.15) along a sightline near to where we find dust. We present evidence that the Smith Cloud progenitor previously encountered the Milky Way’s galactic plane, polluting its gas with metals and dust.

PHYS2024WIGGINS25630 PHYS

Only the Special Survive: Star Cluster Disruption in Galaxy Simulations

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Alessa Wiggins Physics & Astronomy Peter Frinchaboy Physics & Astronomy
Advisor(s): Peter Frinchaboy Physics & Astronomy
Location: Third Floor, Table 5, Position 2, 1:45-3:45

There is currently a mismatch between the chemical properties of a typical star and those within star clusters across the Milky Way galaxy. Star clusters are groups of stars bound by gravity, many of which are found in the disk of the Milky Way. Studying these star clusters reveals essential information about the rich history of our Galaxy, as we can measure their age and their chemical composition independently. While some clusters interact with their environment, causing them to dissolve, other clusters remain bound for billions of years. In order to investigate these disruption events, we will study the evolution of star clusters throughout cosmic time via simulations. With the use of cosmological simulations, such as the Feedback In Realistic Environment (FIRE) simulation, we are able to learn why clusters move from their original place of formation and how far they go. Additionally, FIRE allows us to trace star clusters through their different stages of their evolution, and study how they survive as they interact with other components of the galaxy. This enables us to investigate where open clusters form, if and why they move from their radius of formation, and how they traverse and interact with the Galaxy over time. In this work, we focus on tracing the unique trajectories of three illustrative open clusters throughout time. In the future, we aim to compare the FIRE-2 simulation results to the observed results from the SDSS-based Open Cluster Chemical Abundance and Mapping (OCCAM) survey.

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PSYC2024ABRAM26572 PSYC

Stereotypy and Variability Predict Interruptibility of Zebra Finch Song

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Rima Abram Psychology Andrew Magee Psychology
Advisor(s): Brenton Cooper Psychology
Location: Third Floor, Table 10, Position 1, 1:45-3:45

Motor preparation deficits are a feature of many neurological disorders in humans. Developing animal models to study deficits in motor preparation is essential to explore the potential therapeutic treatment avenues. Preparation for motor actions involves neural pathways that facilitate neuromuscular planning. In male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), song production is controlled by a system of brain areas that are analogous to those areas in humans controlling human speech and language. Neural activity in many of these brain areas precedes the execution of song motor sequences. We aimed to differentiate preparatory motor periods from song execution by interrupting female-directed and song produced in isolation (undirected song) with white noise playback. The amplitude and duration of the white noise was systematically varied along with the timing of playback occurring during song. Song respiratory motor gestures were measured in six birds experiencing the noise disruption events. Transition entropy analyses revealed increased variability in syllable progression in the presence of playback compared to undirected song without playback (control condition). There were significant differences in the frequencies of interruption, continuation, and termination for each syllable of directed and undirected song with playback compared to baseline (Χ2, ps < .05). We observed higher rates of interruption and motif disruption during introductory notes and early syllables as well as later syllables within a song motif. Ascertaining patterns of stereotypy and variability in zebra finch vocalizations can elucidate deficits in motor planning that contribute to autism spectrum disorder, speech apraxia, and other clinical disorders.

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PSYC2024ARTHUR40678 PSYC

The Relationship Between Race, Family Dynamics, and Discrimination on Self-Esteem and Occupational Performance

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Sharon Arthur Psychology Matthew Espinosa Psychology
Advisor(s): Sarah Hill Psychology
Location: Basement, Table 3, Position 1, 11:30-1:30

Existing literature has highlighted the competing roles of each family dynamics, the patterns of interactions among relatives, and discrimination on the self-esteem and occupational performance of African American and Caucasian populations individually. However, no research to date has examined whether these factors are interconnected. In this study, we aimed to assess the competing roles of family dynamics and experiences of discrimination across a cross-sectional survey. In the study, we surveyed a sample of 178 White and Black participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Simple mediation models indicated that higher levels of discrimination were associated with lower levels of self-esteem, self-efficacy, and resilience. Additionally, more positive familial relationships were associated with better outcomes on these measures for White participants alone. Furthermore, self-esteem was positively related to better self-reported occupational performance. That is, our results suggest that perceived discrimination is associated with lower self-esteem, which is then subsequently related to poorer occupational performance. Conversely, the results suggest the opposite pattern for family dynamics, with more positive familial relationships being associated with higher levels of self-esteem among White participants, which is, in turn, associated with better self-reported occupational performance. These findings emphasize the negative role of discrimination in fostering personal well-being and success in occupational settings.

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PSYC2024ASADOORIAN40159 PSYC

The effect of bilateral and monolateral perceptual motor exercises on manual dexterity and visual-spatial memory in NVLD children

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Soseh Asadoorian Psychology
Advisor(s): Brenton Cooper Psychology Brian Johnson Interdisciplinary Zahra Pooraghaei Interdisciplinary
Location: Second Floor, Table 8, Position 3, 1:45-3:45

Abstract
Research on non-verbal learning disordered (NVLD) children can lead to improvements or even overcome the learning difficulties and functional limitations the children experience. According to the latest measurement, the prevalence of non-verbal learning disorder (NVLD) is approximately 4% in the general population. 1 in 100 children in the United States have non-verbal learning disorder (NVLD), and 10 percent of the children of special learning disordered (SLD) populations are suffering from non-verbal learning disorder (NVLD). This disability is defined as a dysfunction of the brain’s right hemisphere functioning; this part of the brain processes nonverbal, performance-based information, including visual-spatial, organizational, and evaluative functions. Visual-motor control, dynamic balance, and bilateral coordination are also the most significant motor skill deficits in children with special learning disabilities (SLD). Participants (n = 20) with non-verbal learning disorder (NVLD) were randomly assigned to monoliteral and bilateral perceptual motor exercises (n = 10 per group). The children performed monolateral and bilateral perceptual motor exercises that were designed to improve neuropsychological profiles, manual dexterity, and visual-spatial performance measures. There was a significant difference in the average of right-hand dexterity, left-hand dexterity, and spatial memory after the intervention of monolateral and bilateral perceptual exercises (ps<.05). The study of using physical activity to enhance inter-hemispheric connection supports the hypothesis that there is right-hemisphere dysfunction in NVLD children. These results suggest integrating these interventions in educational and therapeutic settings would be helpful to children with NVLD and perhaps also for children with other learning disorders.

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PSYC2024ASCIONE23103 PSYC

Intergroup Vicarious Ostracism and Perceptions of Prejudice

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Beatrice Ascione Psychology
Advisor(s): Cathy Cox Psychology
Location: Third Floor, Table 2, Position 2, 1:45-3:45

Throughout our evolutionary history, people have used social connections to enhance survival and reproduction, and consequently, the loss of these connections is very detrimental. Existing evidence has found that we have evolved sensitive neural and perceptual systems that detect and respond to threats of ostracism. This experience of distress when viewing another person being ostracized is referred to as vicarious ostracism. Recent work leans on the evolutionary perspective that being excluded by an ingroup member is costlier than being ostracized by an outgroup member. However, this research has produced somewhat conflicting findings, one that observing ostracism of ingroup members by outgroup members is more painful, while others have found the reverse. Further, little research has examined how experiences of vicarious ostracism influence the perceptions of and interactions with targets of ostracism. Thus, the present study aims to analyze the roles of group membership on an individual’s perceptions and observations of vicarious ostracism experiences, and also their thoughts of the person being ostracized. We hypothesized that observing an ingroup member being ostracized by an outgroup member would be seen as more prejudicial than an outgroup member being ostracized by ingroup members, which would, in turn, be related to a more positive view of the ingroup target that was ostracized.
Across two studies sampling Caucasian undergraduates (Study 1) and both Caucasian and African American adults via Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk; Study 2), participants were presented with group-based ostracism vignettes, in which they read about a racial ingroup or outgroup member being ostracized by members of the ingroup or outgroup.
Then, participants completed self-report questionnaires assessing the degree to which they viewed the depicted ostracism as being attributable to prejudice by the sources, as well as their impression of the ostracism target. In both studies, regardless of race, we found that participants in the intergroup black condition viewed ostracism as more prejudicial and liked the target more than people who saw the ostracism in the intergroup white condition.
Further, we found that prejudicial attributions mediated the relationship between the depicted ostracism and participants’ impression of the target, such that when people viewed a black target being excluded by white sources, they rated the ostracism as more prejudicial, which in turn is associated with liking the target more.
Overall, these findings were opposite of our hypotheses and instead suggest that our evolved cognitions for processing experiences of group-based vicarious ostracism may be influenced by contemporary social norms and group dynamics. The implications of this research for understanding the ecological factors that influence behavioral and perceptual outcomes associated with vicarious ostracism, particularly within the context of intergroup conflict, will be discussed.

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PSYC2024BACH19070 PSYC

Individual Factors that Predict Sensitivity to Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Shelby Bach Psychology Savannah Hastings Psychology Sarah Hill Psychology
Advisor(s): Sarah Hill Psychology
Location: Second Floor, Table 1, Position 3, 11:30-1:30

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) research and clinical use demonstrate its efficacy in treating epilepsy, depression, migraines, and its potential to one day mitigate inflammation and improve working memory. However, variations in treatment outcomes indicate a need for further exploration into the individual factors that influence VNS sensitivity and responsiveness. The study aims to investigate how various individual factors like sex, body awareness, preterm birth, childhood socioeconomic status, childhood unpredictability, and adverse childhood experiences relate to sensitivity to VNS. A survey will administered to measure person-based variables of interest. Participants will undergo a VNS procedure involving a heart rate variability (HRV) recording during a baseline, stimulation, and recovery period. Some of our expected result are, individuals who were born prematurely will have higher sensitivity to VNS, and individuals who experienced more childhood stress will have lower sensitivity to VNS. The results of this study will improve future VNS clinical treatment and inform future VNS research pursuits.

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PSYC2024BASIRICO9617 PSYC

The Relationship Between Childhood Socioeconomic Status, Upward Mobility, and Psychological Stress

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Francesca Basirico Psychology Katja Cunningham Psychology
Advisor(s): Sarah Hill Psychology
Location: Third Floor, Table 9, Position 2, 11:30-1:30

It is commonly assumed that achieving financial success will remove many of the burdens associated with low socioeconomic status (SES). However, recent research suggests that individuals who transition from low to high SES environments are at even greater risk for poor health outcomes compared to those who remain in stably high SES environments and compared to those who remain in stably low SES environments. Although the underlying cause of these health outcomes are currently unknown, evidence from qualitative interviews of individuals experiencing upward mobility finds unique psychological stressors associated with transitioning from low to high SES. The current research was designed to experimentally examine the effect of upward mobility and childhood SES on psychological stress. Participants were randomly assigned to write about their life at a significantly higher SES than their childhood SES (upward mobility condition), or at the same SES as their childhood (no mobility condition) before reporting their psychological stress. Two studies were conducted in order to examine the effect of upward mobility in 1) a sample of undergraduate students and 2) to compare the effects of upward mobility in a sample of adults currently enrolled in college and never enrolled in college. Results revealed elevated psychological stress among participants in the upward mobility condition (vs. no mobility), but only among those who had low childhood SES. These findings suggest that upward mobility carries a psychological stress burden that uniquely impacts individuals from low SES environments.

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PSYC2024BERDELIS1519 PSYC

Does Pretesting Enhance Learning When it is Done Covertly?

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Ashley Berdelis Psychology Michelle Rivers Psychology
Advisor(s): Uma Tauber Psychology
Location: First Floor, Table 3, Position 1, 11:30-1:30

Students wonder how to prepare for an upcoming exam, while instructors wonder how to best introduce materials to students. Research has found that practice testing after material is studied leads to better memory compared to other strategies like restudying (Rowland, 2014). Practice testing tends to be more effective when students recall material verbally or write it down (overt learning) compared to when they only mentally recall the material (covert learning; Tauber et al., 2018). Other research evaluates the value of pretesting individuals before they learn subject matter. Studies show that answering pretest questions before studying, even if people provide wrong answers, leads to beneficial learning outcomes compared to just studying material (Richland et al., 2009). We aimed to combine both research areas and investigate how covert and overt learning applies to pretesting: When taking a pretest, is it better to just think about the answer, or is it better to write it down? Undergraduate students at TCU were instructed to learn passages about the planet Saturn or Yellowstone National Park. For one of the passages, students simply read the passage (read-only condition). For the other passage, they were asked short-answer pretest questions about the passage prior to reading (pre-test condition). A random half of the participants complete their pretests overtly (typing their responses to the questions), whereas the other half of participants completed their pretests covertly (answering the questions in their mind). All participants completed a final multiple-choice test on the material they learned. Performance on this final test was higher for the pretest condition compared to the read-only condition, and this was true for both overt and covert pretesting. In strategy ratings made after the experiment, participants seemed to recognize that pretesting was more effective than learning because it helped them absorb relevant information while reading the passage. Our results suggest that pretesting is an effective learning strategy, even when learners do not provide articulated responses.

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PSYC2024BIEN61952 PSYC

Exploiting artificial intelligence and machine learning software to accelerate scientific discovery

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Kevin Bien Psychology Soseh Asadoorian Psychology Andrew Magee Psychology Hannah Scheffer Psychology Samantha Shah Chemistry & Biochemistry
Advisor(s): Brenton Cooper Psychology

Scientific investigation of animal behavior often requires the collection of thousands of data files containing hundreds of hours of audio and video recordings. Analyzing these data is a tedious and time-consuming process, hindering the progress of experiments. Current software hastens this process, but substantial human effort is still required to sort data into categories of interest for specific research questions. This project will investigate whether machine learning algorithms can further enhance the efficiency of identifying categories of interest in songbird research. The first project will explore song recognition in audio data using spectrograms (spectrotemporal graphical representations of sound). The second project will explore video processing to track the location of an animal in arena.
A PyTorch based computer-vision model will be developed to identify instances of zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) song from video recordings. The model will be trained to recognize spectrograms of songs using labeled spectrograms representing songs collected in laboratory recording sessions. After the model is developed, it will be compared to a pre-existing template- matching algorithm to determine its relative speed and accuracy to the laboratory standard. To automate location tracking, a DeepLabCuts model will be trained to detect the location of zebra finches within recorded videos. Location tracking data will then be used to provide an estimate of how long each bird spent in regions of interest during a recording session. The model speed and accuracy will be validated by comparing the model results to human measurements (ground truth).
The development and testing of this software will help gauge the effectiveness of artificial intelligence in automating data analytic methods commonly used in animal research. If the new software proves effective, it can be further developed and deployed to facilitate future research. These methods may facilitate the process of scientific discovery by rapidly quantifying large data streams collected in modern scientific research fields.

PSYC2024BOND487 PSYC

Potential anxiolytic effects of oral administration of over-the-counter CBD in rats

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Sara Bond Psychology Brittney Anderson Psychology Brennan Balzac Psychology Alanna Crowell Psychology Kenneth Leising Psychology Margeaux Manshel Psychology Jordan Nerz Psychology
Advisor(s): Kenneth Leising Psychology
Location: Third Floor, Table 3, Position 1, 11:30-1:30

Cannabidiol (CBD) is derived from the Cannabis sativa plant and has been found to reduce anxiety-like behavior in rodents on an elevated plus maze (EPM) when injected, as well as in humans in both social anxiety and fear conditioning situations when consumed orally (Blessing et al., 2015). Pharmaceutical grade CBD is what is primarily used in research, but most people consume over-the-counter (OTC) CBD and there is a need to evaluate the benefits of its consumption (Chesney et al., 2020). In the current experiment, we explored the effectiveness of voluntary oral consumption of OTC CBD to reduce anxiety-like behaviors in rats using EPM and open field (OF) tests. Rats were given either 20 mg/kg of OTC CBD isolate or distilled water for 16 days prior to testing. On day 17, rats were placed on the EPM 2-hours after feeding for 5-minutes and on day 18, rats were placed on the OF in the same manner. The amount of time spent in the open vs. closed arms of the EPM and the center vs. outer portions of the OF was evaluated. If rats were less anxious (CBD group), then we expected that they would spend more time in the open arms of the EPM and center of the OF than the control group. The results will be discussed with respect to the grade of CBD, the administration route, and the type of test.

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PSYC2024BROWNAWELL37303 PSYC

An Examination of Narcan Use and Distribution in Tarrant County

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Sam Brownawell Psychology Mickaela Barrett Psychology Kayla Brownell Psychology Angela Rique Psychology Eman Saad Psychology Buse Uras Psychology Stephanie Villaire Psychology Erin Whitlow Psychology
Advisor(s): Amanda Wiese Psychology Kevin Knight Psychology Jennifer Pankow Psychology
Location: Third Floor, Table 7, Position 2, 1:45-3:45

Narcan is an over-the-counter nasal spray used to reverse the effect of opioid overdoses. In 2022, approximately 110,000 fatalities resulted from opioid overdoses in the United States. Considering the high rates of opioid overdose fatalities, it is important to employ a community-based approach to the distribution of Narcan. To address this, a survey was distributed to individuals in a local Fort Worth community center (N = 5) to evaluate the utilization of Narcan. Following the survey, each participant was given one box (2 doses) of Narcan to take home. One month after the initial survey, participants completed a follow-up survey , indicating if they had used or given away the Narcan. While we do not expect the majority of participants to have used the Narcan within this timeframe , we expect to find high willingness to use Narcan in the case of an emergency. The distribution of Narcan can provide a resource to families as a precaution to prevent potential opioid related deaths in this community. Study implications highlight a greater need for community education and increased distribution of Narcan to improve public perceptions and reduce instances of opioid overdose in the Fort Worth community.

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PSYC2024CAGNEY19021 PSYC

The Impact of Determined Behavior on Ratings of Determinism and Outlook

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Katie Cagney Psychology Sophia Jones Psychology Kenneth Leising Psychology Jordan Nerz Psychology
Advisor(s): Kenneth Leising Psychology
Location: Second Floor, Table 7, Position 3, 11:30-1:30

The Impact of Determined Behavior on Ratings of Determinism and Outlook
Cagney K., Nerz J., Jones S., & Leising K.J.
A deterministic position claims that all decisions are ultimately the result of external events (e.g., current conditions and past experiences). In contrast, indeterminism (free will) maintains that a decision can emanate solely from within (independent of external influences). Research has found that deterministic perspectives are rated as more negative than indeterminist perspectives, perhaps due to the loss of agency associated with determinism. This study examined whether manipulating the functional value of a behavior would alter ratings of a deterministic perspective, as well as, personal agency and optimism. Half of the participants were instructed to click a white box each time it appeared (i.e., determinism), and the other half were told to click the box whenever they wanted (i.e., indeterminism). Additionally, for half of the participants in each group, a response to the box changed its color (high behavioral utility), whereas, for the remaining participants, clicking the box did not change anything (low behavioral utility). Participants then assessed deterministic perspectives, and personal optimism and agency. It was hypothesized that high behavioral utility would attenuate the negative response to determinism. However, the results revealed that the determinism groups had a more negative view of determinism, regardless of the utility of their behavior. Those with less favorable views of determinism reported lower optimism, and those with lower optimism reported a lower sense of agency.

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PSYC2024CLAUSEN26581 PSYC

Group Home Care and Felt-Safety

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Olivia Clausen Psychology
Advisor(s): Casey Call Psychology Karen Furman Psychology Brae Young Interdisciplinary
Location: Basement, Table 3, Position 2, 1:45-3:45

Felt-safety is the emotional and physical components of safety and fills the gap between knowing you are safe and feeling you are safe. Felt-safety is a critical aspect of development because it allows an individual to move from their lower functioning automatic brain to higher level centers capable of reasoning and learning. Youth who are in foster care, particularly youth in residential care settings, experience frequent change and many new environments. We investigated whether felt-safety levels could be increased in a local group home through “Life Skill” lessons. We used “Life Skill” lessons to help build the relational connections among residents and between residents and staff. Before undergoing “Life Skill” lessons participants took an online written assessment which measured: felt-safety using The Neuroception of Psychological Safety Scale (NPSS), attachment using The Experiences in Close Relationships Scale (ECR), and psychological wellbeing using the Psychological-Wellbeing Scale (PWB). Our hypothesis was to see increases in felt-safety and gain evidence for best practices in increasing safety levels among youth in highly volatile environments. A second hypothesis was to see an increase in psychological wellbeing in connection to felt-safety. A Wilcoxon Rank Sum Test was used to determine significance between Time 1 and Time 2. Interestingly, there was found to be a significant decrease in felt-safety levels and the difference in psychological wellbeing was insignificant. Overall, this research helped quantify levels of felt-safety and wellbeing amongst youth in residential care.

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PSYC2024CUNNINGHAM26100 PSYC

Upward socioeconomic mobility, psychological stress, and physical health

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Katja Cunningham Psychology Sarah Hill Psychology
Advisor(s): Sarah Hill Psychology
Location: Second Floor, Table 5, Position 1, 11:30-1:30

Decades of research finds a relationship between low socioeconomic status (SES) in childhood and poor health outcomes in adulthood. However, recent evidence suggests individuals who experience upward socioeconomic mobility exhibit poorer health than those who remain in low SES environments throughout their lives. The current work examined the relationship between physical health and psychological stressors associated with upward socioeconomic mobility (i.e., financial insecurity, obligation to family, social isolation, and threat hypervigilance). Participants provided information about their childhood, current, and expected future SES to make upward socioeconomic mobility salient among individuals with low childhood SES. Then, participants reported their perceived psychological stress. Physical health markers (i.e., hear rate, blood pressure, inflammatory cytokine release) were measured throughout the study to examine physiological stress responses to upward socioeconomic mobility. Results reveal that psychological stressors faced by those experiencing upward socioeconomic mobility are associated with physiological responses which may contribute to poor health outcomes.

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PSYC2024DEVRIES54179 PSYC

An Examination of Attitudes Toward Narcan in Tarrant County

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Madisen DeVries Psychology Talia Christian Psychology Eman Saad Psychology Ryan Salazar Psychology Buse Uras Psychology Stephanie Villaire Psychology Lindy Willmott Psychology
Advisor(s): Amanda Wiese Psychology Kevin Knight Psychology Jennifer Pankow Psychology
Location: Basement, Table 7, Position 1, 1:45-3:45

Narcan, also known by its generic name naloxone, is a life-saving medication used to reverse an overdose from opioids—including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications—when given in time after an overdose event. It works by blocking the effects of opioids on the brain and can quickly restore normal breathing, working to prevent fatal outcomes. In our study, we administered a survey to participants at two sites in Tarrant County, one in the Las Vegas Trail community, and the other at the Fort Worth Central Bus Station. The survey consisted of questions measuring the attitudes, knowledge, and misconceptions of Narcan and substance use among people in Tarrant County. We expect to find high levels of stigma surrounding drug use and Narcan. Understanding attitudes about Narcan is crucial as it has a direct impact on public health by potentially saving lives through the reversal of opioid overdoses. Additionally, it plays a role in reducing the stigma associated with substance use disorders and addiction, as attitudes toward Narcan can reflect broader societal views on these issues. Finally, community attitudes toward Narcan can influence how communities respond to overdoses and support individuals in recovery, making it essential to engage communities in overdose prevention and response efforts.

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PSYC2024ESPINOSA42343 PSYC

Existential Isolation and Social Exclusion: An Experimental Comparison

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Matthew Espinosa Psychology Cathy Cox Psychology
Advisor(s): Cathy Cox Psychology
Location: Basement, Table 3, Position 3, 1:45-3:45

Just as there are many ways for people to be socially connected to each other, there are just as many ways to be isolated. A novel focus of empirical research, existential isolation describes the perception that one is alone in their experience of the world; that no one shares your perspective or can come close to understanding it. Existing literature find that experiences of existential isolation are associated with a host of negative wellbeing outcome, such as increased feelings of loneliness, death thought accessibility, depression and anxiety symptoms, and reduced self-esteem. Similarly, though more thoroughly empirically examined, social exclusion too represents a socially isolating experience that threatens our psychological and physical wellbeing. While theoretically distinct in several meaningful ways, existential isolation is often found to be comorbid with the feelings of interpersonal isolation that are common among socially excluded individuals. As such, the present study aimed to empirically examine the wellbeing outcomes shared by experiences of existential isolation and social exclusion, so as to better understand the unique effects that existentially isolating experiences may have on personal wellbeing. Recruiting a sample of 186 adult online via Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), participants were randomly assigned to write about either an experience in which they felt existentially isolated, in which they were socially excluded, or their morning routine (i.e., a neutral control), and then complete questionnaires assessing their mental wellbeing. Results showed that participants in the existential isolation and social exclusion conditions both felt greater loneliness, existentially isolation, negative emotion, and need threat compared to participants in the neutral control condition, but similar to each other. Further, those who recalled a social exclusion experience also reported feeling greater threat to each of their fundamental social needs than those who recalled an existentially isolating experience. Therefore, the present results suggest that, within the domains of cognitive wellbeing, existential isolation and social exclusion share many negative outcomes, but social exclusion more severely impacts our fundamental social needs. The implications of these findings for research aiming to understand the cognitive and health outcomes associated with socially isolating experiences will be discussed.

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PSYC2024FARR53258 PSYC

Hormonal Birth Control and Women's Short-Term Mating Behaviors

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): MiMi Farr Psychology Melissa Brillhart Psychology
Advisor(s): Sarah Hill Psychology
Location: Third Floor, Table 2, Position 3, 1:45-3:45

Historically, women have been less willing to engage in short-term mating than men. However, hormonal birth control seems to change the reproductive costs associated with short-term sexual behaviors as women who use hormonal birth control exhibit short-term mating cognitions similar to men. Additionally, women who use hormonal birth control are much more sexually unrestricted than women who are naturally cycling. To date, there has been no research looking at how using hormonal birth control impacts women’s real-life sexual behaviors as all studies looking at the impacts of hormonal birth control on women’s mating behaviors have been surveys. Thus, the present research aims to examine the real-life impact of hormonal birth control on women’s sexual behaviors and more specifically, how using hormonal birth control impacts women’s short-term mating behaviors. We predict that women who use hormonal birth control will be more willing to say yes to engaging in uncommitted sexual behavior than women who are naturally cycling since women who use hormonal birth control are utilizing an environmental intervention that impacts the reproductive costs associated with short-term sexual mating. Data collection is ongoing.

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PSYC2024GILLESPIE23350 PSYC

The Effect of Alternating Exercises on Habituation of Wheel Running in Rats.

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Catrina Gillespie Psychology Sara R Bond Psychology Katie Cagney Psychology Isabella Flores Psychology Kenneth Leising Psychology Jordan Nerz Psychology Bebe Silver Psychology
Advisor(s): Kenneth Leising Psychology
Location: First Floor, Table 1, Position 1, 1:45-3:45

Certain stimuli evoke reflexive responses, (e.g., jumping in response to a loud noise), which are typically adaptive (e.g., escaping a predator). However, when some of these eliciting stimuli are repeated and not followed by harm (e.g., a woodpecker pecking the bark of a tree), maintaining a strong response can be costly. Diminished responding to an eliciting stimulus after repeated presentations is referred to as habituation. A recovery of the response following habituation can occur when a novel stimulus (e.g., a context change) is presented. Previous research has found wheel running in rats habituates within daily sessions (Aoyama & McSweeney, 2001). We investigated whether pseudorandomly varying the order of two types of exercise within each session for 14 days (e.g., Day 1: running wheel -> open field (OF); Day 2: OF -> running wheel) would reduce habituation of wheel running in rats. Control rats were given the same order of 20-min access to a running wheel followed by 20-min access to the OF, or the reverse order for another group, during each session. It is hypothesized that the Experimental group will demonstrate slower habituation (i.e., more running) both within and across sessions. Results will be discussed in terms of the number of wheel rotations and the factors known to influence habituation.

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