Unhealthy eating behavior plays a major, preventable role in many chronic health conditions, such as obesity, which is a leading cause of early morbidity in the United States. Recent research has focused on the influence of social connections on food choice through the enforcement of food-related social norms that motivate healthy eating practices. While this research illuminates the relationship between social connection and the promotion of healthy eating habits, less is known about how lack of social connectedness (i.e. isolation) may influence eating behavior and food choice differently. Just as there are many ways to be socially connected, there are also many ways to be disconnected. One such form of disconnection is the experience of existential isolation, which is characterized by the feeling that one is alone in their experience of the world. Existing research has found that chronic existential isolation is associated with poor mental wellbeing, such as heightened feelings of loneliness, death through accessibility, depression, anxiety, and reduced self-esteem. Yet, the associations existential isolation may have with physical health outcomes or behaviors remain unclear. The present research aims to investigate the links between feelings of existential isolation and self-reported eating behavior and healthy eating intentions. Across two survey studies, undergraduate students reported their trait levels of existential isolation, loneliness, and healthy eating behavior, with Study 1 assessing food quality, calorie content, and portion size planning, while Study 2 focused on intentions to eat healthy in relation to existential isolation. The results revealed significant negative correlations between existential isolation and self-reported healthy eating behavior, food quality planning, caloric intake planning, portion size planning (Study 1), and healthy eating intentions (Study 2). These associations also remained significant even when controlling for individual differences in interpersonal loneliness. The findings offer preliminary evidence of an association between daily feelings of existential isolation and unhealthy eating cognitions, with more existentially isolated individuals reporting less mindful eating behaviors and intentions. These results highlight the potential role that feeling existentially isolated may have on dietary choices, and subsequent long-term health outcomes. Implications of these findings for future research examining the relationship between social connectedness, existential isolation, and long-term health outcomes related to eating cognition will be discussed.
Title: Saving Important Material: An Examination of Offloading, Memory, and Metacognition.
Authors: Ashley J. Berdelis, Morgan D. Shumaker, Sarah K. Tauber
Cognitive offloading—externally storing information to reduce internal cognitive load (e.g., on a smartphone)—has become widespread with technological advances (Risko & Dunn, 2015). Often, offloading is used when we need to remember information in the future (e.g., setting calendar reminders). However, sometimes how much to-be-remembered material we can offload is constrained by time or by available storage space. The agenda-based regulation (ABR) framework posits that learners assess task constraints prior to study and construct agendas to achieve the task goal within these constraints (Ariel & Dunlosky, 2009; 2013). For instance, learners allocate more study time to and selectively study more important (high-value) over less important (low-value) material, allowing them to maximize test performance under such constraints (Soderstrom & McCabe, 2011; Middlebrooks & Castel, 2018). Thus, learners might adopt similar offloading strategies by offloading important material and using internal memory for unimportant material. Critically, people often engage in offloading with the expectation that their external store will be available to them at the time of need; however, this is not always the case (e.g., technology failing). When offloaded material is available at the time of need, memory for that material is enhanced (Park et al., 2022). When offloaded material is unavailable at the time of need, memory for offloaded material suffers compared to memory for internally stored (recalled) material (Park et al., 2022). To use external tools most effectively, it may be useful for learners to be aware of their ability to remember externally and internally stored material. Thus, the current study examined whether learners are aware of their ability to later remember offloaded and internally stored material. Participants completed a series of memory tasks with the option to offload only a portion of the to-be-remembered items. Before the study phase in each task, participants made judgments about how much of the offloaded and recalled items they could later identify as having been seen before. After the study phase, participants made similar post-task judgements and were given a surprise recognition test on the studied material, during which the external store was unavailable.
We also examined whether learners could transfer their metacognitive awareness from one task to another, as offloading is relevant to various life scenarios. Finally, we examined how the value of the to-be-remembered material influences offloading, and how offloading and recall influence later memory. Participants’ pre-task judgements on the first task indicated that they would recognize more offloaded items than recalled items. However, this difference was not present on tasks two and three, suggesting that participants used experience with the first task to update their judgments for offloaded items. Participants offloaded more high-value than low-value items and had better recognition memory for recalled items than offloaded items, in all three tasks. Overall, people strategically offload important over unimportant material, but memory for offloaded material suffers compared to memory for recalled material. Learning about the relationships between value, offloading, memory, and metacognition can allow us to use external storage devices more effectively.
Author(s): Paige Braden Kuhle Psychology Kelly Brice Psychology Paige Dean Biology Miranda Jelenik Biology Vivienne Lacy Biology Catherine Shoffner Biology Buse Uras Psychology
Advisor(s): Gary Boehm Psychology Michael Chumley Biology
Location: Third Floor, Table 2, Position 3, 1:45-3:45
Approximately 72% of Americans are overweight or obese, and healthcare for obesity-induced chronic diseases accounts for almost half of the total costs for disease treatment in the U.S. Further, obesity is a key risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a fatal disease that is the 6th leading causes of death in the U.S. As obesity and AD are comorbid, dietary intervention could be a key strategy to reduce excessive weight gain and AD risk.
High obesity prevalence in the U.S. is most likely due to the typical American diet, known as the Western Diet (WD), which is comprised of simple carbohydrates, refined sugars and vegetable oils, processed meat, and high-fat dairy products. Conversely, the Mediterranean Diet (MD), a plant-based diet, is typically comprised of complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, seafood, and low-fat dairy products. The MD has been shown to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, and thus, has the potential to protect against AD.
The current study examined the effects of the MD and WD, modeled after typical human diets, in a hippocampus dependent learning task in wildtype mice. As the hippocampus is a crucial brain region for learning and memory, and hardest hit by AD pathologies, we aimed to explore how diet affects learning and memory processes that are dependent on this brain region. The results revealed that life-long consumption of the MD enhanced spatial learning and memory, in comparison to the WD, in male mice. These results suggest that long-term consumption of the MD could be used to enhance cognition in older adults.
The introduction of the birth control pill allowed women to express greater control over their fertility. Since then, men have had less responsibility when it comes to family planning, as the majority of birth control technologies have been directed toward women, thereby creating an implicit association between femininity and the use of birth control. Currently, male birth control is in various stages of research, and when one becomes available, this association may decrease men’s willingness to use this contraceptive. Indeed, previous research has shown that men’s lower willingness to use a male birth control is associated with a desire to avoid appearing feminine. Therefore, increasing the association between masculinity and birth control could increase men’s willingness and interest in using a male birth control. The present study aimed to examine whether the degree to which a male birth control is associated with masculinity in an advertisement (ad) will influence men’s willingness to, and interest in, using the birth control. I predicted that the stronger the ad associated male birth control with masculinity, the more that men would be willing to/have an interest in using the depicted birth control. Participants viewed one of two ads for a male birth control, either a masculine ad or a non-masculine ad, and then indicated their willingness and interest in using the depicted birth control. We also measured men’s self-reported openness to short-term, uncommitted sexual relationships. Results suggested that similar willingness and interest in using the birth control was reported between the masculine ad and the non-masculine ad, suggesting that men’s willingness/interest was not influenced by the masculinity of the ad. However, the results did reveal a moderating effect of men’s sexually unrestricted desires. More specifically, when men viewed the non-masculine ad, there was no association between men’s willingness to use the depicted male birth control and their desires for short term, uncommitted sex. However, among the men who viewed the masculine ad, the more they desired short-term, uncommitted sexual relationships, the more willing they were to use the advertised birth control. Overall, these findings suggest when men are motivated to pursue short-term, uncommitted sex, they are then more willing to use a male birth control if that birth control is associated with masculinity. The implications of these findings for research on family planning will be discussed.
Retrieval practice typically improves learning and memory performance of basic information (Rowland, 2014). Much less research has evaluated the degree to which retrieval practice results in better test performance of more complex information such as category learning. In one case, retrieval practice led to superior classification performance relative to restudy conditions (Jacoby et al., 2013); however, in another, it did not (Babineau et al., in press). One important component that may contribute to retrieval practice effects in category learning is whether the learning process is self-regulated. We systematically explored this issue with the goal to establish when retrieval practice benefits learning of complex categorical information. During the experiment, we manipulated the study strategy (Retrieval practice versus Study) and the learning context (Experimenter-controlled versus Self-regulated) between-participants during a complex category learning task. Specifically, participants learned to classify six categories of organic chemistry compounds. For participants in the retrieval practice groups, participants practiced classifying each exemplar into the correct category and received corrective feedback after each trial. Participants in the study groups did not complete practice test trials. Instead, they studied all exemplars without practicing category classification nor did they get feedback on their learning. For participants in the experimenter-controlled groups, the order of the trials was fixed in an interleaved order. However, participants in the self-regulated groups made decisions about what to study after each trial. They were able to study a compound of the same type, a compound of a different type, or proceed to the test (after viewing 72 exemplars. After the study phase concluded, participants completed two classification tests. During the novel classification test, participants classified new exemplars they had never seen from the six chemical categories they just studied. During the studied exemplar test, participants classified the exemplars they had previously studied. The results revealed that participants who completed retrieval practice trials during the study phase performed better on the novel and studied classification tests than did participants who completed study trials. The benefit of practice testing on complex category learning was maintained for participants who self-regulated their learning and for participants whose learning was experimenter-controlled. The results of the present research support the use of retrieval practice as an effective study strategy for complex categorical information. Further, retrieval practice improved classification performance for those who self-regulated their category learning. Students often self-regulate their learning of complex information, and these novel findings indicate that completing a practice test improves student learning in controlled environments like the classroom, as well as in student-controlled environments such as studying outside of the classroom.
Author(s): Morgen Crosby Psychology Christopher Hagen Psychology Pedro Ogallar Psychology Nathan Overholt Psychology Francesca Vignolo Psychology
Advisor(s): Mauricio Papini Psychology
Location: Basement, Table 2, Position 1, 1:45-3:45
Frustration is a complex emotional state that occurs when reward expectations are violated. In animals, this can involve a variety of different types of rewards such as food, shelter, or access to mates. When an animal learns to expect a certain reward and that reward is of lesser quality or quantity than expected, the animal will reject the reward and experience a bout of negative emotion known as frustration. This behavior is often modeled in the lab in a paradigm known as consummatory successive negative contrast (cSNC) and involves training rats to expect a high value sucrose solution (32%) and then downshifting them to a lower value sucrose solution (2%). As a result of this downshift, consummatory behavior is shown to be suppressed beyond that of unshifted controls. To better understand the brain circuitry behind this response, neural activity of several key brain areas was assessed after a 32-2% sucrose downshift with additional 32-32% and 2-2% controls using immunohistochemistry. More specifically, the protein c-Fos, which is expressed in recently depolarized neurons and can therefore act as a proxy for neural activity, was quantified in brain areas relating to reward processing, emotion regulation, and action coordination. The results show several areas that are activated and correlate with one another during downshift. These data provide the groundwork for establishing a connectome of brain areas that are activated during cSNC and are essential to frustration.
As our world is becoming more globally connected, the ability to speak another language is increasingly becoming a valuable skill. While there are training programs to help acquire a new novel language, this task becomes increasingly difficult with age– thus presenting the need for a novel method of intervention to assist in this process. Considering this increasing difficulty, a new biologically based intervention could be valuable for improving learning and memory. Previous research conducted in our lab has shown that noninvasive transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) is an effective intervention in memory-based reading comprehension (Thakkar et al., 2023). TaVNS has also been shown to boost associative memory (Jacobs et al., 2015), spatial working memory (Sun et al., 2021), and emotional memory (Ventura-Bort et al., 2021). Despite this knowledge, little is known about taVNS and its effects on long-lasting language retention. Thus, this current study explores whether transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation can improve learning and retention of a new and novel language when paired with a training routine. Typically developing college-aged individuals were recruited through an online participant pool. All individuals were screened for age, IQ, reading, memory, and attention for inclusion in this study. The participants completed a one-hour training session in which they were presented with 30 Palauan nouns, the respective English translations, and images of the nouns. During this time, the participants received sham, 5 Hz, or 25 Hz stimulation to the posterior of the left tragus. Prior to training, participants completed a translation test to measure their knowledge of the Palauan language, and this test was repeated immediately after training and again seven days later to measure learning and retention. After analysis of the results, no effect was found for any stimulation group immediately after training. At retention, however, the 25 Hz taVNS group showed significantly greater performance than both the sham and 5 Hz taVNS groups. There was also no statistical difference between the performance of the sham and 5 Hz taVNS groups..These data suggest that taVNS may be used to help in the retention of novel words of a new language. The results further suggest that stimulation frequency may impact efficacy of the intervention. These data will be important for ongoing research examining the uses of taVNS, and its use as an intervention for learning and retention of a new language, and in other areas of cognition.
Previous research finds that people are perceived as naïve and socially submissive when expressing fear. The outward expression of this emotion is thought to function to elicit prosocial responses from others. However, no work has examined whether fearful expressions are also perceived as an opportunity for exploitation in environments which favor opportunistic responding such as harsh, low resource environments. The current research was designed to examine 1) the perceived opportunities posed by fearful individuals, and 2) whether the presence of someone from a harsh environment leads individuals to suppress, rather than express, their fear. In two studies, participants were randomly assigned to evaluate the opportunities for exploitation posed by a person expressing either fear or no emotion. In a third study, participants were randomly assigned to view a fear inducing video from a horror movie or a neutral video from a nature documentary. Participants then disclosed to a bogus study partner (from a harsh or benign environment) the degree of fear they felt while watching the video. Results revealed that fearful individuals are perceived as posing more of an opportunity for exploitation than individuals expressing no emotion. Additionally, being in the presence of an individual from a harsh environment was associated with reduced fear expression after watching a scary video. These results suggest that the expression of fear may be risky under certain contexts.
Anticipatory nostalgia is when one misses the present before it has even passed and through previous research, is said to reduce psychological well-being (Batcho, 2020). This mentality of “missing out” is related to difficulty in enjoying the present (Batcho and Shikh, 2016). High anticipatory nostalgia, then, will be associated with decreased levels of present-moment awareness, thus increasing levels of anxiety and depression. 210 TCU students completed seven different self-assessment measures related to psychological well-being in a randomized order. The results indicated that high anticipatory nostalgia was associated with greater chances of developing depression, anxiety, a search for meaning, and negative effect. High anticipatory nostalgia was additionally associated with lower rates of life satisfaction, meaning presence, and optimism. In all, the results supported the hypothesis that anticipatory nostalgia is related to lower psychological and emotional well-being. This research can overall help individuals understand the emotional complexity of nostalgia and how it manifests in health and well-being.
Author(s): Sarah Gonzalez Psychology Madison Brown Psychology Savannah Hastings Psychology Esmeralda Herrera Psychology Elizabeth Joseph Psychology Kevin Knight Psychology Kha Vu Psychology Amanda Wiese Psychology
Advisor(s): Amanda Wiese Psychology
Location: Third Floor, Table 8, Position 2, 11:30-1:30
Data suggests that the number of unplanned pregnancies is still high among college students. (Sutton & Walsh-Buhi, 2017). Socioeconomic status (SES) and racial/ethnic factors influence contraceptive usage, and lack of knowledge about contraception can lead to inconsistent use of birth control. Research suggests that contraceptive knowledge amongst college students is low or moderate (Carter et al., 2012). Using the Integrated Model of Behavioral Predictions (Sutton & Walsh-Buhi, 2017), the current study seeks to explore the impact of a person’s perceived SES on their attitudes toward contraceptive usage. Texas Christian University (TCU) students were recruited on campus (N = 50) and asked to complete a brief online survey via Qualtrics. We hypothesized that individuals who perceive themselves as having lower SES will have more negative attitudes towards utilizing contraceptives. Little evidence was found to support this hypothesized relationship. However, greater contraceptive knowledge was found to be associated with more positive contraceptive attitudes. These results should encourage efforts that increase contraceptive knowledge among college students, such as by creating opportunities for sexual health education.
Author(s): Vinisha Inaganti Psychology Isabella Hopkins Psychology Stephanie Villaire Psychology
Advisor(s): Amanda Wiese Psychology Kevin Knight Psychology
Location: Basement, Table 5, Position 2, 1:45-3:45
One known barrier to treatment initiation and retention is access to transportation. If an individual does not have public transportation, and they do not live nearby accessible clinics, this problem can become exacerbated. The current study aims to overlay maps of the Tarrant County public transportation system with maps of clinics across Tarrant County. The clinics examined include mental health clinics, HIV treatment clinics, and substance use treatment clinics. Results will be interpreted to determine the overlap between service deserts and transportation deserts. Findings will be discussed as they pertain to the impact of public transportation on medical service access, as well as directions for future research.
This presentation will explore the differences in trauma symptoms and self-efficacy ratings before and after participating in Hope Connection Camp 2.0. Current literature suggests that children who experience early life trauma are at a higher risk of developing emotional and behavioral challenges and can manifest in a child's physical, mental, and social wellbeing throughout their lifespan. While many therapeutic approaches focus on the individual aspects of a child to help children overcome early life trauma, TBRI is an attachment-based and trauma-informed approach that focuses on the whole child and their needs. Hope Connection Camp 2.0 is a therapeutic camp for adopted children and their families that utilizes TBRI to support each family's journey. The goal of the camp is for children and their families to build better relationships with each other, understand and meet each other's needs, and teach them how to regulate their behavior. This presentation will analyze the relationship between TBRI and adopted children's trauma symptoms and self-efficacy ratings prior to and after participating in the Hope Connection Camp 2.0.
Menstrual suppression has been used as a treatment for 20 years and it’s also been an increasingly common choice of lifestyle. Past research revealed that different attitudes towards menstruation may have different impact on willingness to choose menstrual suppression (Johnston-Robledo et al., 2003; Rose et al., 2008). Media content such as commercials and magazine articles has been influential in shaping people’s attitudes towards menstruation, especially enhancing negative attitudes and stigma (e.g., Coutts and Berg, 1993). Thus, it’s important to investigate how media content may influence menstrual suppression tendency. Additionally, people differ widely in their responses to adverse experiences such as negative aspects of menstruation. For example, people with higher self-compassion tend to be more nonjudgmental and kinder to themselves in hard times, and they are less likely to be affected by social influences such as objectification and sexual stigma (e.g., Liss & Erchull, 2015). Building on these, the current research aims at examining the effect of media attitudes on menstrual suppression willingness and how self-compassion may buffer the effect. 250 female students with menstrual experiences from TCU participated in the study. A two-way moderated regression revealed that at low level of self-compassion, participants showed significantly higher tendency to suppress their menstruation after being primed with an online media passage depicting menstruation as a healthy and creative event, whereas they had lower menstrual suppression willingness following reading a negatively toned passage describing menstruation as messy and debilitating. Participants with medium or high self-compassion were not affected by either type of passage. More research is needed to further elucidate the role of menstrual suppression in low-self-compassion people’s response to media depiction of menstruation.
Author(s): Students of Applied Research Criminal Thinking Group Psychology Kevin Knight Psychology Thomas Sease Psychology Amanda Wiese Psychology
Advisor(s): Amanda Wiese Psychology
Location: Second Floor, Table 5, Position 3, 11:30-1:30
Criminal thinking patterns are a set of processes that predispose someone to engage in criminal behavior. Various theories of criminal thinking posit that people showing criminal thinking patterns have a proclivity towards hostility, verbal and physical aggression, and antisocial behavior. Correspondingly, there needs to be more research with general populations, in contrast to justice populations, to create better assessments of criminal thinking patterns. The objective of this study was to create a measure of criminal thinking in the general population, test the survey for validity, and create normative scores. To do this, the Texas Christian University Criminal Thinking Scales 3.0 (TCU CTS 3.0) was modified to better assess the general population and demonstrate its validity. Results showed the TCU CTS 3.0 measured five areas: 1) Justification, 2) Grandiosity, 3) Power Orientation, 4) Response Disinhibition, and 5) Insensitivity to Others. Measures of criminal thinking had acceptable internal reliability scores (alphas ≥ 0.70) and were moderately correlated with measures of verbal and physical aggression, state-based anger, and hostility. The modified TCU CTS for the general population will provide an important comparison of criminal thinking levels in individuals who do not have histories of criminality or involvement with the justice system.
Author(s): Kate Lindig Psychology Naomi Ekas Psychology Chrystyna Kouros Psychology Sarah Madison Psychology
Advisor(s): Naomi Ekas Psychology
Location: Basement, Table 1, Position 1, 11:30-1:30
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs social communication and causes restricted and repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities. Autistic children also have a variety of co-occurring difficulties, including elevated levels of internalizing and externalizing behaviors and sleep problems. Research with neurotypical children highlights the importance of considering physiological and family-level predictors of child sleep quality (El-Sheikh & Kelly, 2017). The current study had three objectives: to examine the extent to which children’s baseline respiratory sinus arrythmia (RSA), RSA reactivity (RSA-R) in response to a family stressor, and their interaction were related to children’s self-reported daytime sleepiness (a potential marker of sleep problems); to examine the extent to which a stressful family environment predicts daytime sleepiness, over and above children’s parasympathetic nervous system functioning; and to examine the extent to which a stressful family environment moderates associations between children’s parasympathetic nervous symptom functioning (i.e., baseline RSA, RSA-R, and their interaction) and daytime sleepiness. The RSA-Baseline was measured while children sat still, and measures of sleep quality and family risk were competed by children.
Author(s): Simon Mendoza Psychology Sara Bond Psychology Macy Lasater Psychology Kenneth Leising Psychology Jordan Nerz Psychology
Advisor(s): Kenneth Leising Psychology
Location: Second Floor, Table 7, Position 3, 1:45-3:45
Animals must respond to stimuli in their environment that might pose a threat to their survival, such as the rustling of a bush or a loud noise. However, having a strong response to these stimuli, especially those that occur frequently, can be costly. Habituation occurs when a behavioral response to a stimulus decreases in magnitude after prolonged exposure or repeated presentations of that stimulus. Habituation is one mechanism that allows us to ignore stimuli that do not pose immediate danger, such as a jack hammer outside of our window. A recovery of the response following habituation occurs when a novel stimulus, or a dishabituating stimulus (e.g., a context change) is presented. Such a recovery would not occur if the reduced responding were the result of muscular fatigue. Previous research shows that wheel running in rats habituates within daily sessions (Aoyama & McSweeney, 2001). We investigated whether habituation could be attenuated in rats using context changes across sessions of wheel running. All rats had access to a running wheel for 30-minutes per day across 12 days. The control group encountered the wheel in the same context (olfactory, visual, and tactile) across days. The experimental group alternated between four possible contexts, which consisted of four locations, different visual contexts, and different scents. The dishabituating stimuli are the different contexts that are experienced by the experimental group. The results revealed that both groups had a decrease in wheel running within session, indicating that habituation occurred. The experimental group’s context changes did not slow the effects of habituation. The results will be discussed in terms of factors that influence habituation.