Author(s): Elidia Avelar Psychology Arielle Cenin Psychology Bryn Lohrberg Psychology Elise Martinez Psychology
Advisor(s): Cathy Cox Psychology
Location: Session: 1; 1st Floor; Table Number: 1
Terror management theory is a theory that proposes mortality salience, or the awareness of the inevitability of death, is a motivating factor for maintaining faith in cultural worldviews and personal growth in value and self-esteem. Following mortality salience, people are more likely to interact with others and express satisfaction in relationships. Meaning in life (MIL) research is interested in examining the purpose and significance one feels in relation to their personal lives. Research has found that high MIL is associated with increased feelings of social connectedness and sense of belonging. (Baumeister & Vohs, 2002) The present research examined the link between mortality concerns, relationship MIL, and satisfaction/commitment within people’s romantic partners. In the research 369 participants ranging from ages 17-43 were asked to complete a lexical decision task that could be filled with death or neutral related words. Participants also completed a 5- item measure of relationship-specific MIL. Finally, participants completed a measure recording their relationship satisfaction. It was hypothesized that increased death awareness would lead to greater pursuit in MIL in people’s relationship with their romantic partner. The results showed that people with elevated DTA also have higher scores on relationship specific meaning in life. That is, higher DTA was related to greater search for meaning from relationships. This, in turn, was related to increased relationship satisfaction and commitment scores.
From the perspective of terror management theory, reminders of death are problematic because they lead individuals to defend their cultural beliefs. Given that police officers are trained to see persons and situations as potentially dangerous (i.e., naturally occurring mortality salience), this may result in greater acceptance of the use of force. The current study examined police officers’ reactions to arrest vignettes and fear of death. Results suggest that increased death awareness predicted greater use of unnecessary force. These effects held while controlling for several individual differences that have previously been shown to influence use of force. These findings suggests that death concerns play an important role in how police officers respond to crime.
Author(s): Skylar Black Psychology Daniel Alvarez Torres Psychology Kylie Brown Psychology Cheyenne Elliott Psychology Kenneth Leising Psychology Madie Westbrook Psychology
Advisor(s): Kenneth Laeising Psychology
Location: Session: 2; 3rd Floor; Table Number: 9
Emotion labeling occurs when one learns to identify, discriminate, and act upon internal sensations caused by external events. Often, emotion labeling is facilitated by language, in which one learns to recognize the increased heart rate and sudden perspiration caused by the sight of a grizzly bear as “fear”. However, for nonverbal humans, emotion labeling is limited, and emotional competence is delayed. By using visual labels, one can facilitate emotional learning in this population, and, in turn, improve relationships with peers, social skills, and academic performance. Nonhuman animals are also nonverbal, and limited research has shown whether or not they can identify, discriminate, and act upon interoceptive states. The focus of our current study is to investigate whether or not typically developing humans and pigeons can report their physiological sensations using visual stimuli. Participants completed a touch screen task in which they were presented three shapes, followed by an event of reinforcement (food for pigeons, money for humans), or non-reinforcement, followed by two visual labels. A correct response was a touch to the label corresponded with each event. Several human studies resulted in a failure to learn, with humans choosing randomly between the two labels. Humans successfully transferred when training trials were blocked and the reinforcement schedule was decreased to an FR1. Pigeons, however, were successfully able to transfer their use of visual labels to new situations. Future directions should focus on the differences between internal state recognition in humans and nonhuman animals.
Author(s): Jacque Dukes Psychology Abby Duplechain Psychology Andrea Farias Psychology Bells Vo Psychology Sam Wharton Psychology
Advisor(s): Brenton Cooper Psychology
Location: Session: 2; 1st Floor; Table Number: 1
How does one decide to act? In humans, the “decision” to initiate a behavior can occur several seconds before an action is undertaken and can even occur without conscious awareness. Here we explore whether we can predict when a nonhuman animal is going to engage in a self-initiated behavior.
Singing in songbirds is a learned behavior that is passed down from one generation to the next via imitative learning. Birds initiate song in response to the presentation of a female bird (directed) or spontaneously when in isolation from other birds (undirected). The production of song requires the control of respiratory, vocal organ, and upper vocal tract motor systems; these diverse motor systems are controlled by the activation of precise neural networks within specific areas of the songbird brain. Although much is known about the neuromuscular control of song, the neural and peripheral mechanisms underlying song initiation and termination have received less attention. Here we explore in two songbird species whether song initiation and termination can be predicted by measuring changes in respiratory patterns prior to, during, and after song. We quantified changes in respiratory rate and amplitude, as well as changes in time spent in the inspiratory versus expiratory cycle to determine whether specific features of respiration were tied to onset or offset of song. Measurements of respiratory patterns were undertaken in zebra finches (Taeniopyggia guttata) and Bengalese finches (Lonchura striata var. domestica). Preliminary data suggest that respiratory patterns change predictably within the last second prior to when a bird initiates song. Following song, there is clear evidence of respiratory changes due singing-related exertion. Our findings illustrate that the occurrence of self-initiated behaviors can be predicted by exploring peripheral song motor control up to one second prior to the onset of the behavior. These results illustrate that the decision to act can be predicted by changes in peripheral motor systems which likely serve as preparatory activity for the upcoming motor action.
Author(s): Sara Guarino Psychology Shannon Conrad Psychology Mauricio Papini Psychology Zach Wade Psychology
Advisor(s): Mauricio Papini Psychology
Location: Session: 2; Basement; Table Number: 12
The present experiment was designed to explore the role of the central amygdala (CeA) in the hypothesized neural circuit underlying reward loss, and its relationship with the emotional self-medication (ESM) hypothesis utilizing the DREADD technique to remotely control neural activity. Rats received intracranial infusion of inhibitory DREADDs to allow for transient inactivation of the CeA, obtained via systemic injection of clozapine N-oxide (CNO), the activator drug for DREADDs. Animals were exposed to a 32-to-2% sucrose downshift in the consummatory successive negative contrast (cSNC) situation. After each cSNC session, animals were given simultaneous access to ethanol and water in a 1-h, two-bottle preference test. During the preshift phase (sessions 1-10), animals had access to either 32% (32/CNO and 32/VEH) or 2% (2/CNO and 2/VEH) sucrose. During the postshift phase (sessions 1-15), 32% groups were downshifted to 2% sucrose, whereas 2% groups were unshifted. Prior to downshifted sessions 11-13, animals received an i.p. injection of either CNO or vehicle. At the end of the 15-day two-task behavioral paradigm, animals were tested on the open-field task for two consecutive days in alternate dark and light conditions. The results indicated that CeA inactivation prior to reward devaluation session eliminated the cSNC effect (32/CNO), a hint of ESM effect was present in animals that experienced the reward devaluation under normal CeA activity (32/VEH), but not in animals for which the CeA was inhibited (32/VEH), and open-field activity showed a trend, albeit nonsignificant, toward increased activity in animals with inhibited CeA activity (32/CNO). One important contribution of this experiment involves the use of the DREADD technique to achieve transient inactivation of brain regions. This approach produced behavioral consequences in the cSNC task similar to those obtained in previous research using lidocaine microinfusions. The results of this study suggest that the DREADD approach is a valuable method to manipulate neural activity to further explore the role of these brain regions in our hypothesized reward loss circuitry.
Moral injury is the psychological or spiritual consequence of acting (or failing to act) in a manner that is inconsistent with one’s moral code (Litz et al., 2009; Shay, 1994). The goal of this research was to test a spiritual resilience training program on those with moral injury and their perceived stress and growth. We administered a survey of 21 psychologically validated scales to veterans before the training sessions and one week apart after they ended. Specifically, we were interested in seeing how those who completed a one-week training program would respond to measures of perceived stress, post-traumatic growth, and moral injury, as compared to a control group that did not complete the training. Those who completed the training went through a program of group discussion, journal activities, art therapy, and individual reflection. We found that veterans who completed the program had higher ratings of: post-traumatic growth, relating to others, and sense of spirituality. There were no differences in self-reported perceived stress. The results of the current study could provide more insight into how the training program works and if the program assists veterans in acclimating to life after possible traumatic events during deployment.
Past research in evolutionary psychology has found that women experience shifts in their mate preferences during ovulation - the few days in a month in which conception is possible. Specifically, ovulating women show an increased preference towards men with greater levels of masculinity, facial symmetry, and creative ability. These traits are thought to be indicators of a high-quality mate, and as such women are thought to be attuned to these traits when conception is possible. To extend this research, we sought to examine whether this effect was driven by changes in women’s abilities to detect subtle differences in these traits. To do so, we tested women’s ability to discriminate between mating related stimuli, including slight changes in facial symmetry and masculinity, gait masculinity, and creativity, at both ovulation and a low fertility point in their ovulatory cycles. We are collecting a sample of 240 women – 120 who are taking hormonal contraceptives, and 120 who are naturally cycling. We predict that ovulating, natural cycling women will be better able to detect subtle differences in mating related stimuli compared to naturally cycling, low fertility women, as well as those women taking hormonal contraceptives. Preliminary results will reveal if ovulating women are better able to detect these differences and if they are more attuned to the quality of potential mates.
Author(s): Briar Hill Psychology Kelly Brice Psychology Christopher Hagen Psychology Lauren McCue Psychology Julia Peterman Psychology Jordon White Psychology
Advisor(s): Gary Boehm Psychology Michael Chumley Biology
Location: Session: 1; 3rd Floor; Table Number: 6
One of the main hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is dramatic cognitive decline, including memory loss. Because of this, AD research continually seeks new ways to study the cognitive health of animal models of AD. Researchers have assessed cognitive deficits in AD mice through a variety of behavioral paradigms. The purpose of the present study is to assess if mice with AD-like markers display cognitive deficits in an additional behavioral paradigm, the Novel Object Placement (NOP) task. Animals are allowed to explore two identical objects in a testing arena for three sessions of five minutes. In a fourth session, one of the objects is moved to a different spot in the arena. Animals with intact cognition spend more time exploring the object in the novel location than the object in its original location, as mice naturally display a preference for novelty. Pilot data from our lab demonstrates that experimentally naïve animals complete the task successfully. The animals used in this study are 5xFAD transgenic mice, nontransgenic mice, and nontransgenic mice administered LPS. 5xFAD mice have genetic mutations that result in the production of a protein, amyloid beta, that is seen in human AD, and is often associated with cognitive deficits. Additionally, our lab has previously demonstrated that nontransgenic mice administered seven consecutive days of LPS, a bacterial mimetic, also produce amyloid beta. To investigate if both of these mice display deficits in NOP, we gave nontransgenic 5-6 month-old mice seven days of either LPS or saline injections, and we gave 5xFAD animals saline injections. For the next three days following the 7th injection, the animals were placed into the testing arena with identical objects in adjacent corners of the arena and allowed to explore. Four hours after the third training session, one of the objects was moved to a new location in the arena, and animals were placed back into the arena for the testing session. The dependent variable was the percentage of total object exploration time spent exploring the object in the novel location. There were no significant differences between the nontransgenic animals that received LPS or saline. However, the 5xFAD animals spent significantly less time exploring the novel object compared to the nontransgenic animals, indicating impairment identifying the novel object location. Therefore, at 5-6 months of age, the 5xFAD mice demonstrated cognitive deficits in the NOP task. Further research will explore at what age these cognitive deficits emerge and the extent to which various AD markers are correlated with the deficits.
Research has explored the effects of adoption on the adopted child as well as the parent-child relationship in an adoptive family. However, little is known about the effects of adoption on the remaining members of an adoptive family—the adoptive siblings, defined as the biological children in families who adopted one or more children. The current study aims to examine the adoptive sibling experience in effort to understand a) the effects of adoption on this population and b) which, if any, precluding factors are related to these effects. Participants included adult siblings to at least one adoptee who completed an online survey about their family and experiences. The survey included items about family demographics, free-response items about specific adoption experiences, a measure of potential risk and protective factors created for this study, and assessments about sibling relationship quality and overall family functioning. Results revealed five emerging themes in the adoptive sibling experience: 1) “my adoptive sibling was the best thing to happen to our family,” 2) “it was a hard experience but has shaped me to be who I am today,” 3) “my adoptive sibling required all my parents’ attention and I was pushed aside,” 4) “I am like a second parent to my adoptive sibling,” and 5) “it was the worst thing to ever happen to our family.” Results also revealed that better family communication and greater siblings’ involvement in the adoption process are related to a more positive response to adoption, a closer relationship with the adopted sibling, and more positive views of the family system. Findings improve our preliminary understanding of how adoption affects adoptive siblings and imply that targeted interventions for adoptive siblings may be needed; however, more research is needed to better understand the factors involved.
Author(s): Karen Ji Psychology Robert Arrowood Psychology Lexie Bryant Psychology Christina Ostovich Psychology
Advisor(s): Cathy Cox Psychology
Location: Session: 1; Basement; Table Number: 7
In an effort to improve academic achievement, we examined the effects of meaning in life (MIL) on grade performance. Prior research has found that MIL is associated with better adjustment to stressful life events. Fall semester freshmen in general psychology courses were asked to complete measures of MIL and academic adjustment. At the end of the semester, their final grades from general psychology courses were collected from the Registrars’ office. The results revealed that higher meaning presence persons reported experiencing better academic adjustment to college. Higher adjustment was associated with increased end of the semester final grades in general psychology . No effects emerged in response to meaning search. These findings suggest that the presence of MIL in early college life could have important implications for academic well-being and achievement.
Author(s): Madison Johnson Biology Kelly Brice Psychology Christopher Hagan Biology Taylor Jamali Biology Julia Peterman Psychology Jordan White Psychology
Advisor(s): Gary Boehm Psychology Michael Chumley Biology
Location: Session: 1; 2nd Floor; Table Number: 8
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive form of dementia marked by decline in cognitive functioning and memory loss due to protein abnormalities in the brain. One early cognitive deficit seen in AD is a contextual acquisition deficit. However, evidence suggests that deficits in contextual extinction learning may present earlier than acquisition deficits. Extinction is a type of learning process by which the brain acquires information inconsistent with information it had previously learned, and gradually begins to accept this new information instead of the old. As psychological stress has been linked with increased Alzheimer’s markers, it is important to explore the interaction between stress and contextual learning.
In our first experiment, male C57BL/6J mice were divided into three groups – unpredictable stress (US), isolation, and group housed (controls). All three groups were trained in a contextual fear conditioning. After training, the animals in the isolation and US groups were isolated in individual cages for seven days. In addition to living in isolation, the US group underwent seven days of variable, unpredictable stressors which include 2 hours of wet bedding, cage tilted at 45 degrees for 30 minutes, 30 minutes of restraint stress, 5 minutes of forced swimming in warm water, placement in an empty cage for one hour, and nesting material removal overnight. These stressors were applied in a random order every day for 7 days. On the eighth day, acquisition learning was assessed. Animals in the US group showed significant deficits in acquisition of contextual fear conditioning compared to isolated animals and group housed controls. Extinction learning was assessed on days nine through twelve. There was no effect of US on extinction learning, as there was likely a floor effect due to impaired acquisition. In the second experiment, animals were divided into US and a group housed control group. The US animals underwent the same series of stressors listed previously for six days. On the seventh day, all animals received one 250mg/kg injection of LPS, a bacterial mimetic, to determine how stress impacted the immune challenge. Four hours later, the hippocampus was collected for cytokine and HMGB1 mRNA analysis. As the elderly face surmounting odds of AD, along with significant stress, research on how these interact and early diagnostic signs is especially relevant.
Author(s): Mackenzie Jordan Psychology Karen Borowski Psychology Cheyenne Elliot Psychology Kenneth Leising Psychology
Advisor(s): Kenneth Leising Psychology
Location: Session: 2; 3rd Floor; Table Number: 2
Reinforcer devaluation involves pairing an appetitive stimulus (e.g., food) with an aversive event (e.g., illness), which disrupts the ability of the stimulus to elicit behavior (Adamson & Dickinson, 1981). The effect of reinforcer devaluation could be the result of the stimulus signaling the aversive event. Alternatively, exposure to the stimulus and aversive event together may result in a hedonic shift, or change in the affective unconditional properties of the stimulus. The two accounts make different predictions regarding the effect of reexposure to the devalued stimulus. The hedonic shift account describes reexposure to the stimulus as necessary to experience the changed value of the stimulus, but a signaling account can explain devaluation after one pairing. Balleiene & Dickinson (1991) found that reexposure to food paired with illness was necessary to observe a devaluation effect. The current experiment investigated the devaluation of a conditioned reinforcer. Rats were initially trained with pairings of an audiovisual (light and tone) stimulus with sugar water (sucrose). In the next phase, acquisition of a new behavior, lever pressing, was supported by presenting the stimulus (conditioned reinforcer) following a lever press. During devaluation, the experimental group received one trial of the stimulus paired with a shock, whereas the control group received the stimulus and shock, but separated in time (i.e., unpaired). In Test 1, all rats were given the opportunity to press the lever with no nominal consequences (e.g., no stimulus or shock). Then, all rats were re-exposed to the audiovisual stimulus without the lever or shock. In Test 2, lever pressing was measured as in Test 1. The data will be discussed in terms of the role of reexposure in devaluation.
Adams and Dickinson (1981). Instrumental responding following reinforce devaluation. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section B: Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 33 (2), 109-121.
Balleine, B., & Dickinson, A. (1991). Instrumental performance following reinforcer devaluation depends upon incentive learning. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 43(3), 279-296.
There is empirical evidence that there is an association between nostalgia, or a sentimental longing for the past, and one’s psychological and social well-being. Additional research has shown that nostalgic reverie leads not only to increased optimism and positive attitudes towards preventative health behaviors, but also actual increased health behaviors. This study extends the research on nostalgia and health into the realm of college athletics and explores how collegiate athletes’ performance is correlated with nostalgic tendencies, in addition to various measures of well-being, optimism, meaning in life, vitality, and life satisfaction. A positive correlation is expected, such that higher performing athletes are also more nostalgia prone. This study will serve as a foundation to explore the direct benefits for athletes of nostalgic thought, the advantages of which are firmly supported in other contexts.
Author(s): Alexandra Miller Psychology Reagan Cox Psychology Anna Petursdottir Psychology Remington Swensson Psychology Alexandra Wilkins Psychology
Advisor(s): Anna Petursdottir Psychology
Location: Session: 2; Basement; Table Number: 5
Covert echoing has been hypothesized to play a role in the emergence of stimulus control over vocal naming after a person is exposed to contiguous presentation of a novel object and its name. However, experimental evidence is weak. This study examined the effects of blocking echoic responses during exposure to name-object presentations on later vocal naming. Preschool-age children were exposed to pictures of national flags and heard the associated country names. In the echoic condition, participants were instructed to echo the country name presented in each trial. In the interference condition, they were instructed to name the background color on which the flag was presented in each trial, which was presumed to interfere with echoic responding. In the no-response-requirement (NRR) condition, participants were not instructed to make any responses. Flag naming was probed after each session. Only 3 of the 5 participants showed a tendency to name the flags vocally even after repeated exposure. Of these three, only one demonstrated poorer performance in the interference condition relative to the echoic and NRR conditions. These results fail to provide support for the echoic hypothesis and are consistent with other data from our lab.
Student evaluations of teaching (SETs) are a tool commonly employed at universities for assessing faculty members’ teaching performance and even eligibility for promotions. Survey items often ask students to make judgments about the professor’s knowledgeability, teaching style, and class difficulty. Fair and consistent review of SETs is critical for faculty members as they seek to improve their teaching skills and gain professional recognition. The present study investigates the novel question of how judgments of completed SETs are made. Undergraduate students (n = 160) and faculty participants were shown and asked to make judgments about a fictional SET. The four conditions varied in whether the fictional professor being evaluated was rated lower or higher than average, and whether or not the professor gave in-class quizzes. Follow-up questions had participants evaluate why they made certain judgments about the professor. This research helps explicate the factors that contribute to faculty members’ interpretations of and students’ responses on SETs.
Author(s): Cokie Nerz Psychology Callie Benavides Psychology Cheyenne Elliott Psychology Kenneth Leising Psychology
Advisor(s): Kenneth Leising Psychology
Location: Session: 1; Basement; Table Number: 12
In nature, it is adaptive for an animal to learn to make different responses to different stimuli (e.g., climb some trees to obtain ripe fruit but forage near the base of others). In the laboratory, learning to make different responses (e.g., lever pressing vs. chain pulling) is facilitated by different outcomes (e.g., food vs. water) for each response. The current research aimed to extend this differential outcomes effect in rats with a visual discrimination procedure. Rats were reinforced for pressing a lever on the left side (left lever) of operant box in the presence of one visual stimulus (e.g., a flashing light) and for pressing the right lever in the presence of another visual stimulus (e.g., a solid light). In the experimental group, the rats received a different outcome for each correct response (flashing light -> left lever -> sugar water; solid light -> right lever -> chocolate pellets). In the control group, the rats received only one of the outcomes (e.g., sugar water) for both responses. The data will be discussed in terms of support for the differential outcomes effect. Examining the effects of a differential outcomes procedure in a variety of tasks will help to better understand the conditions under which this effect can facilitate learning.
Few studies have directly evaluated the assumption that equivalence-based instruction establishes stimulus classes with greater efficiency than direct instruction of all possible stimulus relations within each class. Therefore, this study evaluated the efficiency of EBI protocol compared to direct instruction (DI), using fifteen visual abstract stimuli (A1 through E3). Forty-eight undergraduate students were assigned to one of four groups: The EBI-DI group received EBI in Phase 1 and DI in Phase 2, and vice versa for DI-EBI group. EBI-EBI and DI-DI group received EBI and DI in both phases, respectively. In Phase 1,EBI-first groups received training on AB and BC relations and DI-first groups received training with all possible relations. After achieving mastery criterion, the ABC test included all possible trial types. In Phase 2, all groups received training to (a) add a fourth stimulus (D), and (b) add a fifth stimulus (E) to the class. No statistically significant difference was found between EBI and DI-first groups in the number of trials, reaction time during test and overall trials to achieve criteria and the performance in ABC test. There was an interaction between the first training condition (EBI vs. DI) and the second training condition (EBI vs. DI) on percentage accuracy in the first ABCD test, but not in ABCDE test.
This study examined the relationship between heart-oriented (emotional) and head-oriented (rational) individuals and instances of death-thought cognition from a terror management theory perspective. The first study compared the death thought accessibility (DTA) of participants who self-reported being more head-oriented or more heart-oriented and found that heart-oriented individuals showed higher DTA. The second study manipulated mortality salience between conditions. When primed with death-related words, heart-oriented individuals displayed greater levels of defensiveness of their worldviews. The results of these two studies supported the hypothesis that the effects of mortality salience are exaggerated in heart locators versus head locators.
Investigating how people regulate their learning is important because study decisions can impact actual learning. Compared to younger adults, older adults often show age-related deficits in memory. This deficit may be because older adults are less effective at regulating their learning. One factor that can influence memory is the valence of information. Prior research has established that older and younger adults are more likely to recall emotional information compared to neutral information and also predict that emotional information will be better remembered relative to neutral information (e.g., Tauber & Dunlosky, 2012). It is unclear how both age groups regulate their learning of emotional and neutral information. Investigating this issue, older and younger adults studied words that were positive (e.g., circus), negative (e.g., snake), or neutral (e.g., fork). Participants regulated their learning by self-pacing their study (Experiment 1) or by selecting half of the words to restudy (Experiment 2). After studying each word, participants predicted the likelihood of remembering it on a scale of 0% (will not remember) to 100% (will remember). Finally, participants took a free-recall test. Consistent with prior research, both age groups demonstrated higher predicted and actual memory for emotional information relative to neutral. Importantly, both age groups’ self-paced study times did not differ for emotional and neutral information. In contrast, both age groups restudied neutral words more frequently than emotional words. Thus, when participants were forced to strategize their learning, both age groups made good study decisions, prioritizing neutral information at the expense of emotional information.
Author(s): Madeline Pitcock Psychology Abby Engelhart Psychology Grace Pecoraro Psychology Zoe Richardson Psychology Vishal Thakkar Psychology
Advisor(s): Tracy Centanni Psychology
Location: Session: 1; 2nd Floor; Table Number: 8
For my SERC grant proposal, I studied the effect of auricular vagus nerve stimulation (aVNS) on learning in adults with dyslexia. The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve that, when stimulated, initiates the release of two neurotransmitters (NT’s) that are important in learning and memory (norepinephrine and acetylcholine). When a stimulus is presented at the same time as vagus nerve stimulation, this increases neural plasticity for the paired item. We have already tested this approach on typically-developing adults using the auricular branch of the vagus nerve, which runs through the ear and can be stimulated non-invasively. During this intervention, timed bursts of electrical stimulation were delivered while the participant learned novel letter-to-sound correspondences for Hebrew letters with the goal of increasing recall and automaticity. We have already found significant improvements in letter recognition, reading speed, and nonword decoding in typically-reading participants receiving stimulation compared to those in control groups. Our ultimate goal is to help children with dyslexia read more fluently. In the first step towards this goal, we enrolled a group of adult participants with dyslexia who received 10 days of Hebrew orthography training paired with aVNS. Participants were evaluated at four timepoints to monitor learning and compare progress with other groups: at day 1, halfway through training, at the end of training, and 3 weeks after training ended. We measured letter recognition, letter-to-sound fluency, and decoding at each time point. We will present our preliminary findings at SRS and discuss future directions.
Author(s): Tori Short Psychology Jeffrey Gassen Psychology Sarah Hill Psychology Summer Mengelkoch Psychology
Advisor(s): Sarah Hill Psychology
Location: Session: 1; Basement; Table Number: 11
Early life stress has shown to be related to an increased preference for smaller, more quickly acquired rewards over larger, delayed rewards—or an inability to delay gratification—a fundamental component of impulsivity. Beyond this, impulsivity is also characterized by difficulty concentrating and exercising self-control and has been found to significantly impact learning and memory. Specifically, in children, higher impulsivity is associated with greater learning difficulties, such as with reading. Previous research has also shown that adults with higher levels of inflammation portray higher impulsivity. The current study aims to investigate the relationship between impulsivity, inflammation, and childhood environmental conditions within children between the ages of 3-17. Saliva samples were collected from 248 children visiting the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in order to measure current levels of proinflammatory cytokines, which indicate immune activation. Children then participated in a series of tasks that measured their ability to concentrate, learn to inhibit their responses, and delay gratification, while background and demographic information was collected from their parents. Results will reveal whether children growing up in stressful environments also have higher levels of inflammation and impulsivity.
Author(s): Sarah Sullivan Psychology Timothy Barth Psychology Kaleigh Decker Psychology KatieScarlett Ennis Psychology Charles Lord Psychology Vishal Thakkar Psychology
Advisor(s): Timothy Barth Psychology
Location: Session: 2; 3rd Floor; Table Number: 3
Attitude Representation Theory (Lord & Lepper, 1999) asserts that individuals evaluate attitudes based on a subset of associations. As this subset of associations varies, attitudes can vary as well. Previous research demonstrated that people can mistake self-generated information for provided information, through source monitoring errors (Johnson, Hashtroudi, & Lindsay, 1993), after extrapolating beyond the information given (Lu, 2015). We sought to apply ART and cognitive tasks (e.g., extrapolation, embellishment, and validity) by having participants judge the actions of fictitious groups. Although these groups are fictitious, they allude to current political viewpoints. We tested the effects of extrapolation (thinking about additional attributes of a target group; Experiment 1), embellishment (convincing a friend not to join the target group; Experiment 2), and biased assimilation (testing truth and validity of sources; Experiment 3) on polarization of moral judgments. Compared to a control group, embellishment polarized negative attitudes toward the group. The current set of studies could shed some insight about how people view issues, self-radicalize judgments, and understand thoughts of lone-wolf terrorists.
Author(s): Remington Swensson Psychology Reagan Cox Psychology Camille Roberts Psychology Juliana Sequeira Cesar de Oliveira Psychology
Advisor(s): Anna Petursdottir Psychology
Location: Session: 1; 1st Floor; Table Number: 6
There are many benefits for children to receive music education. Research shows that note reading and music playing skills are positively correlated with cognitive development, motor proficiency, and self-esteem (Bilhartz, Bruhn, & Olson, 1999; Costa-Giomi, 2004; Schellenberg, 2004). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of equivalence-based instruction (EBI) to teach elements of music to children who have no music background in the age range of 4-7 years. The children first learned to relate the name of a note (e.g. “quarter”, “half”) to the length of the note as well as a picture of the note. They were also taught to name the lengths and names of sequences of notes (e.g. “quarter, quarter, half”). In the second part of this study, the children learned letter names of notes (e.g., “A”), keyboard placement, and what finger (e.g. thumb) goes with each letter name and piano key. Finally, we tested for emergent relations from part one and part two. Date collection in progress, but we predict to see emergence of relations between what was taught in part one and what was taught in part two. For example, when told “play this sequence on A,” participants will be able to use the correct finger on the correct piano key to play the notes in the sequence at the correct lengths.
Will work for alcohol! Reward value of alcohol in rats.
Joanna B. Thompson and Mauricio R. Papini
The misuse of alcohol is a prevalent problem in the United States, contributing to an array of public health, social, and economic issues. It is estimated that over 16 million Americans each year receive a diagnosis of an alcohol use disorder (AUD) which contributes to an economic burden upwards of $249 billion (NIAAA, 2017). Previous research has shown that alcohol has rewarding properties which motivate organisms to engage in voluntary, oral consumption (Jupp et al., 2011). Although studies have provided evidence for decreased alcohol consumption in rodents, no studies to date have examined high concentration alcohol (upwards of 60%). We used a mixed Pavlovian-instrumental paradigm to train rats to self-administer solutions of 0, 2, 10, and 66% alcohol. Once oral self-administration was established, rats were switched to a progressive-ratio schedule of reinforcement where a greater response effort was required to gain access to each of the alcohol solutions. Solution presentation was switched between rats each day. Higher levels of behavioral responding to an empty sipper to gain access to the alcohol solution was indicative of the reward value of that particular solution. Rats exhibited similar breakpoints for each alcohol solution, though expended less effort for 0% (water). Future directions will involve antagonizing the orexin-1 receptor, which has demonstrated to decrease alcohol consumption (Anderson et al., 2014). A non-peptide selective orexin-1 receptor antagonist, SB-334867, will be administered prior to sessions of progressive-ratio alcohol self-administration to determine the effective dose (0, 1, 5, or 10 mg/kg) at decreasing self-administration of alcohol. These findings are relevant for developing an animal model of alcohol intoxication aimed at a potential clinical drug therapy for alcohol abuse.
Anderson, R., Becker, H., Adams, B., Jesudason, C., & Rrick-Kehn, L. (2014). Orexin-1 and orexin-2 receptor antagonists reduce alcohol self-administration in high-drinking rodent models. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 8, 33.
Jupp, B., Krivdic, B., Krstew, E., & Lawrence, A.J. (2011). The orexin-1 receptor antagonist SB-334867 dissociates the motivational properties of alcohol and sucrose in rats. Brain Research, 1291(1), 54-59.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2017). Alcohol use disorder. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders
Author(s): Zach Wade Psychology Shannon Conrad Psychology Sara Guarino Psychology Quynh Nguyen Psychology Mauricio Papini Psychology
Advisor(s): Mauricio Papini Psychology
Location: Session: 1; 2nd Floor; Table Number: 5
Since the 1920s, it has been recognized that nonhuman animals are capable of forming expectations about rewards and exhibit emotional responses when those expectations are violated—when obtained rewards have lower value than expected rewards. Our lab utilizes a rodent model for coping with unexpected reward loss with a specific interest in furthering our understanding of the underlying neural correlates. Frustration effects in rats are commonly and reliably produced using the consummatory successive negative contrast (cSNC) procedure, where rats are given access to a highly preferred 32% sucrose solution followed by an unexpected downshifted to 4% sucrose. Such surprising nonreward leads to a suppression of behavior compared to a control group that always received the less-preferred, 4% sucrose solution. Studies involving neurological manipulation indicate that permanent lesion or reversible deactivation of the central amygdala (CeA) and the basolateral amygdala (BLA) eliminate the cSNC effect. While these studies are important for identifying key structures, they provide little information about the underlying circuitry. The present research examined the role of the neural pathway between the BLA and CeA in the cSNC task using a chemogenetic approach known as Designer Receptor Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs). Inhibitory DREADDs are intracranially infused into the key structures and later activated by intraperitoneal injections of clozapine N-oxide (CNO). Both groups of rats received unilateral inactivation of the BLA and CeA. The experimental (contralateral) group has one functioning area in each hemisphere, a procedure that disrupts communication between the two areas. The control (ipsilateral) group has one hemisphere disrupted while the other is left intact. Preliminary results indicate a disconnecting the BLA-CeA pathway reduces the cSNC effect in contralateral rats compared to ipsilateral rats. The BLA-CeA pathway is necessary to respond to surprising nonreward. These results add to the hypothesized model of circuity underlying unexpected reward loss in mammals. Because the amygdala circuitry is highly conserved across species, these results inform us about the neural circuitry engaged by similar instances of frustrative nonreward in the human brain.