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PSYC2021YRAGUEN14242 PSYC

The role of multi-scripturalism on novel orthography learning

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Malia Yraguen Psychology Vishal Thakkar Psychology
Advisor(s): Tracy Centanni Psychology
Location: Zoom Room 5, 02:47 PM

The United States is an increasingly diverse country with respect to the number of languages spoken (Shin & Ortman, 2011). With this increase, many adults experience benefits in their personal or professional lives from learning to read in a new language. However, learning to read fluently is increasingly difficult in adulthood (Abadzi, 1996; 2012) Previous research has shown a general bilingual advantage for novel word learning, such that individuals who are fluently bilingual more easily acquire additional languages (Kaushanskaya & Marian, 2009). Given that the reading and language networks largely overlap (Monzalvo and Dehaene-Lambertz, 2013; Stevens et al., 2017; Wang et al., 2020), we hypothesized that reading fluently in multiple print systems (multiscripturalism) may provide a similar advantage. Thus, we investigated the effect of multiscripturalism on novel letter-sound learning in young adults. Data were collected from young adults at TCU and the larger DFW community. Participants were screened for eligibility through a background questionnaire and a short assessment session conducted over Zoom. Eligible participants completed a 30-minute training session to learn eight Hebrew consonants and vowels. Immediately after training and seven days later, participants completed multiple reading measures to assess letter-sound learning performance (Thakkar et al., 2020). We will present our findings from the first wave of data collection, including the impact of baseline reading on learning and whether existing print systems impacted learning and retention of novel letters. We will also discuss implications for this work on literacy education policies and impacts on those with poor reading skills.

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PSYC2020ALVAREZTORRES39027 PSYC

Are you tired or have you accustomed to your workout?

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Daniel Alvarez Torres Psychology Margarette Alvarado Psychology Cheyenne Elliott Psychology Ian Hanson Psychology Kenneth Leising Psychology Cokie Nerz Psychology
Advisor(s): Kenneth Leising Psychology

Habituation occurs when responding to a stimulus decreases with repeated exposure. This decrease can be seen in an array of behaviors, including wheel running. In this experiment, rats ran in four different contexts (i.e., running wheels with different backgrounds/scents) for 30 minutes every day. One group ran in the same context daily while the other alternated between contexts. Rats running in different contexts should habituate less and run more consistently and at a higher rate. By increasing our understanding of the influence of habituation on exercise, results will have important implications for those wanting to maintain interest in an exercise routine.

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PSYC2020AVITIA415 PSYC

Effects of Cross-Situational Generalization on Memory and Attitude Polarization Toward Social Groups

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Serena Avitia Psychology Kaleigh Decker Psychology Akua Jonah Psychology
Advisor(s): Charles Lord Psychology

Abstract SRS: Effects of Cross-Situational Generalization on Memory and Attitude Polarization Toward Social Groups

Serena Avitia, Akua Jonah, & Kaleigh Decker

When people generalize about others, they go beyond the information they are given and infer a level of cross-situational consistency that may polarize their attitudes. The current study investigates how cross-situational generalizations about a group’s traits can affect subsequent attitudes and memory. We predicted that participants who generalized about a fictitious groups behavior across various settings will rate the likelihood of cross-situational trait consistency as significantly higher than the scale mid-point, and report more negative attitudes toward the group than participants who reviewed the initial information they were given. Generalizers will also write paragraphs that more depict group members as displaying the original traits in general rather than only in the given situations, mistakenly recall and recognize some of the situations they rated as part of the initial information, and mistakenly report that their reported attitudes (after they generalized) were the same as their impressions immediately after reading the initial information. The predicted results will increase our understanding of the processes by which attitudes toward an entire group can polarize without any additional information.

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PSYC2020BRADSHAW36444 PSYC

Financial Climate and Female Competition: Abundant Resources Ramp Up (Perceptions of) Women's Same-Sex Rivalry

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Hannah Bradshaw Psychology
Advisor(s): Sarah Hill Psychology

Past research suggests that conditions of scarcity increase the intensity of female same-sex competition. As such, cues to resource scarcity (vs. abundance) might lead women to perceive greater competitive tendencies in their same- (vs. opposite-) sex peers. This prediction was examined across three studies. Across all studies, the opposite pattern of results emerged. Study 1 demonstrated that women perceived higher levels of competitive interactions to occur amongst female (as compared to male and mixed-sex) target groups in environments where resources were abundant. In Study 2, women who perceived resources to be widely available evaluated same-sex others as more competitive than opposite-sex others. Finally, Study 3 provided evidence that women who are led to believe that resources are abundant reported expecting more competitive behavior from their same- (vs. opposite-) sex peers. These results suggest that resource abundance might foster greater competition among women, which has implications for women’s workplace and interpersonal relationships.

(Presentation is private)

PSYC2020DECKER21692 PSYC

The effects of trait extrapolation on attitudes toward kneeling during the national anthem

Type: Graduate
Author(s): kaleigh decker Psychology Charles Lord Psychology
Advisor(s): charles Lord Psychology

Previous research in our lab has found that extrapolating from known to unknown attributes about a group can cause individuals to adopt more extreme attitudes (i.e., become self-radicalized) toward the group. This has been found to be particularly true when people extrapolate from known to unknown attributes about people who agree and disagree with them about a social issue. The current experiment aimed to extend our understanding of these processes by determining whether extrapolating about people who agree and disagree with the extrapolator about a social issue would also report greater self-radicalization toward the social issue in general. Our results revealed that participants who initially opposed kneeling during the national anthem reported more negative attitudes toward kneeling during the national anthem after extrapolating than did participants in the control condition. Conversely, participants who initially favored kneeling during the anthem reported more positive post-manipulation attitudes after extrapolating than did participants in the control condition. These results extend the understanding by which attitudes can become more extreme in the absence of new information.

(Presentation is private)

PSYC2020HERNANDEZ128 PSYC

THE TRAJECTORY OF TRAUMA-INFORMED PRINCIPLES ACROSS CHILD WELFARE ORGANIZATIONS

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Christian Hernandez Psychology
Advisor(s): Sheri Parris Psychology Franchesca Fraire Psychology

In this exploratory, mixed methods project, we seek to understand how implementation of Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), a trauma-informed, evidence-based model of caregiving developed by TCU faculty, has shaped systems of care for vulnerable children and youth. The current study reports on the first year of implementation across nine child welfare organizations participating in a county-wide mental health collaborative. Data included monthly implementation process interviews conducted with representative staff of each agency [TBRI Implementation Strategy Use; n = 9 agencies], as well as survey data from a subset of agencies [TCU Survey of Organizational Functioning (SOF); n = 4 agencies]. The data sample reveals overall increases for TBRI strategy use during the first year of implementation. In addition, organizational functioning scores that were above the baseline mean of the sample yielded increased scores in strategy use. Future research suggests further analyzing the complexities of TBRI implementation across the large-scale collaborative.

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PSYC2020HESSELTINE10108 PSYC

Reducing Aggression and Relational Frustration in Adoptive Families through Trauma-Informed Intervention

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Hailey Hesseltine Psychology Erin Becker Razuri Psychology Jana Hunsley Psychology
Advisor(s): Casey Call Psychology

Hope Connection 2.0 is a therapeutic camp developed by the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development (KPICD) that utilizes Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®), a trauma-informed and attachment-based intervention, to meet the needs of adoptive families. To examine its effectiveness in meeting these needs, data from child and parent measures are collected from participating families during a one-year time period. The current study specifically examines the effectiveness of this intervention in decreasing aggression in adopted children and decreasing relational frustration between the parent and adopted children from pre- to post-camp. The results of this study indicate that both aggression and relational frustration significantly decreased after families participated in the intervention. Additionally, results suggest a significant positive correlation between aggression and relational frustration, suggesting the more a child exhibits aggression, the more relational frustration the parent(s) feels. Results of this study indicate the effectiveness of Hope Connection 2.0 in reducing aggression and frustration in adoptive families, demonstrating the potential benefit of this post-adoption intervention in meeting the needs of adoptive families. 

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PSYC2020NINZIZA459 PSYC

Rwanda Closes Orphanages While Using TBRI

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Darlene Ninziza Psychology Jana Hunsley Psychology Halle Sullivan Psychology
Advisor(s): Casey Call Psychology

Institutional care can negatively impact a child's development, leading to developmental delays and emotional and behavioral problems. These issues can be treated through an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention, such as Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI). The government of Rwanda learned about the effects of institutional care and TBRI and aimed to improve its orphan care. In order to do this, they found families for every orphan and provided TBRI training for caregivers who adopted these children. In the current study, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 10 volunteers who helped train and support these caregivers. A phenomenological approach was used to analyze the interviews. Results revealed five main themes: Rwandans took ownership of the need to care for orphans; they recognized the children's need for connection; they valued the role of family in a child's life; the utilized the power of community in making TBRI use successful; and the volunteers acted as mediators in the adoptive families. This study is the first to examine TBRI use internationally, and the results demonstrate the usefulness of Rwanda's model of orphan care with TBRI implementation that could be replicable in other settings.

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PSYC2020OLIVEIRA41472 PSYC

An Evaluation of the Efficiency of Equivalence-Based Instruction

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Juliana Oliveira Psychology Anna Petursdottir Psychology
Advisor(s): Anna Petursdottir Psychology

Few studies have directly evaluated the assumption that equivalence-based instruction (EBI) establishes stimulus classes with greater efficiency than complete instruction (CI) of all possible stimulus relations within each class. The present study was identical to a previous study that failed to support this assumption, except that in the present study, mastery assessment was designed to favor the EBI condition over the CI condition. Forty-eight undergraduate students were assigned to one of four groups that received instruction on arbitrary stimulus relations. The EBI-CI group received EBI in Phase 1 and CI in Phase 2, and vice versa for the CI-EBI group. The EBI-EBI and CI-CI group received EBI and CI in both phases, respectively. In Phase 1, EBI-first groups received training on AB and BC relations and CI-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, using either EBI or CI. EBI took significantly fewer trials to complete than CI in both phases, but EBI in Phase 1 did not facilitate EBI in Phase 2. The results suggest the EBI arrangement used in this study may be more efficient than CI only because it permits faster learning assessment.

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PSYC2020RICHARDSON10210 PSYC

The Effect of Transcutaneous Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation on Reading Comprehension

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Zoe Richardson Psychology Annie Dang Psychology Vishal Thakkar Psychology
Advisor(s): Tracy Centanni Psychology

In academic environments, the ability to comprehend written text is critical for successful learning. In spite of the importance of this skill, few programs exist for improving comprehension, especially for typically-developing readers. Previous research demonstrated that cervical vagus nerve stimulation (cVNS) is a safe and effective method for driving neural plasticity. However, an invasive and expensive procedure is not practical for a reading intervention. Recent research has demonstrated that the auricular branch of the vagus nerve can be accessed non-invasively through transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) at the outer ear (Frangos, Ellrich, & Komisaruk, 2015). Recent work in our lab provides evidence that taVNS paired with training can improve novel letter-sound learning (Thakkar et al., under review). Thus, we hypothesized that pairing taVNS with reading would aid reading comprehension in typically-developing young adults. We recruited typically-developing young adult readers and verified reading ability using standard assessments. Eligible participants were randomly assigned to receive either active or sham stimulation to the posterior tragus of the left ear while reading passages and subsequently answering standard comprehension questions from the GORT-5 (Wiederholt & Bryant, 2012). Participants were scored on time spent reading, errors in reading, and comprehension. While data collection is ongoing, pilot data suggest a benefit of active stimulation on comprehension, as compared to those receiving sham stimulation. Implications of this work may suggest using taVNS as a novel intervention for reading comprehension, but further studies should extend the methods in a sample of struggling readers.

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PSYC2020ROBERTS60294 PSYC

The Effects of Instructed Visualization on Emergent Conditional Discriminations

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Camille Roberts Psychology Reagan Cox Psychology Anna Petursdottir Psychology
Advisor(s): Anna Petursdottir Psychology

The purpose of the study was to compare the effects of three instructional conditions on emergent relations between visual stimuli. Participants were 75 college students who were randomly assigned to three groups. Participants in the standard group were trained to relate the visual stimuli they saw to text labels, referred to as tact training, prior to learning to relate pairs of text labels, referred to as intraverbal training. Participants in the reverse group received the intraverbal training before the tact training. The instructed visualization group received the same training sequence as the standard group but were given explicit instructions to visualize the images they learned during intraverbal training. The match-to-sample (MTS) testing format was used to evaluate the emergent relations between the visual stimuli. We predicted that the instructed visualization group would complete the MTS task faster and with higher accuracy than other groups because of their histories of visualizing the stimulus relations during the intraverbal training session. The results showed that the instructed visualization group had non-significantly faster reaction times during the MTS test compared to the standard and reverse groups but performed significantly more accurately (p< .001).

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PSYC2020STABLES35957 PSYC

Dyadic transfer of romantic nostalgia

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Jordan Stables Psychology Cathy Cox Psychology Julie Swets Psychology
Advisor(s): Cathy Cox Psychology

Title: Dyadic transfer of romantic nostalgia
Authors: Jordan Stables, Krissy Le, Julie A. Swets, & Cathy Cox

Problem: Nostalgia, a sentimental longing for the past, is associated with greater psychological outcomes, with recent work showing how nostalgia for the past of one’s romantic relationship may have benefits for the self (e.g., Mallory, Spencer, Kimmes, & Pollitt, 2018; Sedikides & Wildschut, 2018). Specifically, individuals who are more nostalgic are likely to claim higher satisfaction in their romantic partnerships. However, it is not yet known whether sharing these nostalgic thoughts can benefit the other partner and the relationship. The goal of the current study is to reveal that sharing relationship-oriented nostalgia will result in beneficial well-being effects that are comparable to those created by individual nostalgia.
Method: We recruited 146 romantic couples from a local university to participate. One member of each romantic relationship was randomly assigned either to write about a nostalgic experience they shared with their partner (relationship nostalgia), a personally nostalgic experience, or a control topic. Then they answered a variety of relationship questionnaires measuring relationship outcomes (e.g., relational self-esteem, optimism). At a later date, their partner (who was blind to their partner’s involvement in the study) read their written narrative and provided their own written response to what they read. Finally they responded to the same relationship measures. Additionally, Pennebaker, Booth, Boyd, and Francis’ (2017) Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) was used to content analyze the nostalgic essays based on affect, sociality, time perspective, and other pertinent themes.
Results: Analyses of variance were conducted to analyze the links between essay condition, nostalgia, and well-being outcomes. First, we found that the more nostalgic the writing partner was, the more nostalgic the reading partner was. Then using LIWC, we found that the relationship nostalgia essays were generally longer, more authentic, and included more first-person plural pronouns (e.g., we, us; demonstrating a stronger sense of interdependence in the essays). It was also found that reading a relationship-centered nostalgic narrative had a significantly positive effect on the readers’ positive mood, when compared to personally nostalgic experiences or control writings. These results also varied as a function of attachment avoidance and anxiety, which is consistent with past research (Abeyta, Routledge, Roylance, Wildschut, & Sedikides, 2015; Juhl, Sand, & Routledge, 2012).
Conclusions: This study has important implications for the analysis of shared nostalgic memories. We reveal that there are clear and immediate benefits for romantic relationships of engaging in and communicating shared nostalgia. This research also is foundational for exploring correlational and causal connections between shared romantic nostalgic reverie and its individual and relationship outcomes. Specifically, future work should explore additional mediating and moderating effects of the advantages of a shared sentiment for the past, as well as the duration of these positive effects.

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PSYC2020SULLIVAN39239 PSYC

The Relationship Between Trauma Symptoms and the Quality of the Parent-Child Relationship in Adoptive Families

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Halle Sullivan Psychology Jana Hunsley Psychology
Advisor(s): Casey Call Psychology

Children who are adopted often experience early-life trauma, resulting in dysregulation and trauma-related emotional and behavioral problems. When these children are brought into adoptive homes, these trauma-related symptoms could negatively affect the attachment relationship by adversely impacting the parent’s perspective on the parent-child relationship. The current study examined the relationship between trauma symptoms in children who were adopted and the quality of the parent-child relationship within these families. Participants included adoptive families who were participating in a therapeutic camp intervention. The data analyzed was baseline data from a larger study prior to any intervention being done. Trauma symptoms of the adopted child, including anxiety, depression, anger, and post-traumatic stress arousal, were significantly correlated with parenting communication, confidence, and frustration. Specifically, the more trauma symptoms an adopted child exhibited, the poorer the quality of the parent-child relationship. Understanding this relationship and the bidirectional effects of trauma on adopted children and adoptive parents could result in better therapeutic interventions for families with adopted children, leading to better outcomes for both adopted children and adoptive parents.

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PSYC2020THORNE26864 PSYC

The Effect of Dyslexia Gene DCDC2 Knockout on Performance During a Prediction Task in Rats

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Abby Thorne Psychology Abby Engelhart Psychology
Advisor(s): Tracy Centanni Psychology

Dyslexia is a prevalent developmental disorder characterized by unexpected reading difficulty in children and adults with otherwise normal IQ and intelligence. Dyslexia is a heterogeneous disorder and a variety of deficits are observed in the population, with auditory perception and rapid stimulus processing occurring most frequently. Genetic variants are likely related to this heterogeneity. One such gene that has been reliably linked to dyslexia is the neural migration gene DCDC2. Suppression of this gene in a rat model dramatically impairs speech-sound discrimination ability from a stream of rapidly-presented auditory stimuli (Centanni et al., 2016), suggesting a potential role for this gene in rapid stimulus processing deficits in humans and supporting a prior study linking this gene to reading speed (Neef et al., 2017). One potential casualty of processing speed impairments is the ability to process unpredictable stimuli. In the current study, we designed a rapid speech sound discrimination and prediction task to evaluate whether the rapid speech sound impairment previously linked with Dcdc2 also causes deficits on a prediction task. If increased presentation rate impairs the ability to process unpredictable stimuli, then the addition of a stable predictor sound should improve performance. To test this hypothesis, homozygous Dcdc2-knockout, heterozygous, and wild type rats were trained to respond to a target sound /dad/ in a stream of rapidly presented distractors in the presence or absence of a predictor sound /bad/, which occurred reliably prior to the target in 40% of trials. In wild type rats, the results indicate the presence of a predictor enhances response to the target /dad/ at low speeds, but as the stimulus presentation rate increased the rats began responding to the predictor /bad/ rather than the target. I will present these findings as well as pilot data from rats with Dcdc2 knockout to investigate the role of this gene on the response to a stable predictor.

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PSYC2020TOMLINSON56374 PSYC

Equivalence-based instruction: Effects of training structure on efficiency and transfer of function

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Gregory Tomlinson Psychology Juliana Oliveira Psychology
Advisor(s): Anna Petursdottir Psychology

A recent study (Petursdottir & Oliveira, accepted pending revision) found that when comparing equivalence-based instruction (EBI) to a complete instruction (CI) control condition using concurrent training and equal mastery criteria, EBI did not inherently produce faster or better learning than CI. However, this study included only a single EBI training structure. The purpose of the present experiment was to (a) evaluate the efficiency of linear series (LS) and one-to-many (OTM) EBI protocols relative to CI, and (b) to assess transfer of function following the three arrangements. Sixty undergraduate students were assigned to one of three groups (CI, EBI-OTM and EBI-LS), all of which received training to establish three 4-member stimulus classes. In the class establishment phase (ABCD training), the CI and EI groups were presented with 36 and 9 types of trials, respectively. After achieving mastery criterion, the ABCD test included all possible trial types, with no feedback. After achieving criterion on the ABCD test, all participants proceeded to transfer of function phase, in which they were taught to execute different motor responses to one stimulus in each class, and then tested with the remaining stimuli in each class. Results suggest the OTM protocol, but not the LS protocol, was more efficient than CI. The three groups performed equally well on the transfer-of-function test.

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PSYC2020TONSAGER16655 PSYC

The Effect of Transcutaneous Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation on Novel Language Learning

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Aubrey Tonsager Psychology Annie Dang Psychology Abby Engelhart Psychology Vishal Thakkar Psychology
Advisor(s): Tracy Centanni Psychology

Language learning in adulthood is often important for personal or vocational reasons, but learning a second language after the sensitive period ends is time-consuming and retention is difficult. Research has suggested that cervical vagus nerve stimulation (cVNS) can help to improve cognitive function (Sjogren et, al. 2002) and working memory in patients (Sun et al., 2017). Transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS), a less invasive method, activates similar brain structures as cVNS (Yakunina, Kim, & Nam, 2016). Recently, our lab demonstrated that taVNS paired with training improved letter-sound learning in typically-developing young adults (Thakkar et al., under review). The current study was designed to evaluate this approach in language learning. During a training session, they were exposed to 30 words in Palau, their English translations, and a picture that corresponded to the word while receiving either active or sham stimulation to the outer left ear. Each stimulus was repeated 10 times. At the end of training, a free-recall test was given where participants saw a trained word and provided the English translation. After one week, participants completed the same free-recall test of English translations to evaluate retention of the 30 trained words. While data collection is still in progress, we are seeing trends in the hypothesized direction such that those receiving active stimulation recall more words after training and at retention than those receiving sham stimulation.

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PSYC2020VILLAIRE5010 PSYC

The Relationship between Trauma-Related Problems and Family Communication Post-Adoption

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Stephanie Villaire Psychology Jana Hunsley Psychology
Advisor(s): Casey Call Psychology

Adopted children often have trauma–related emotional and behavioral problems, such as depression, anger, and anxiety, and these problems can continue to exist after adoption. Post-adoption, the adoptive family’s impact on these problems is not well understood. The current study examines the relationship between adopted children’s trauma symptoms and family communication – a construct that is associated with child social-emotional adjustment in traditional, biological families. Data was collected from adoptive families who were recruited to participate in a therapeutic family intervention. The results revealed a significant negative correlation between family communication and trauma-related emotional and behavioral problems in adopted children; specifically, the healthier the family communicated, the less problems the adopted child exhibited. Further, we wanted to determine if a similar relationship was found between biological children’s emotional problems in adoptive families and family communication. The results revealed a similar relationship: the healthier the family communicated, the less emotional problems the biological children experienced. The results of this study indicate that family communication may be a significant factor when considering the severity of adopted children’s trauma-related emotional and behavioral problems post-adoption.

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PSYC2019AVELAR29440 PSYC

Relationship Specific Meaning in Life (MIL) Buffers Against Fear of Mortality

Type: Undergraduate
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

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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.

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PSYC2019BENTLEY40614 PSYC

The Role of Death Concerns in the Use of Force Among Police Officers

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Hope Bentley Psychology Lexie Bryant Psychology Anita Pai Psychology
Advisor(s): Cathy Cox Psychology
Location: Session: 2; Basement; Table Number: 10

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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.

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PSYC2019DUKES19806 PSYC

The peripheral antecedents of the decision to act

Type: Undergraduate
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

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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.

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PSYC2019GUARINO44570 PSYC

Role of the Central Amygdala in Loss-induced Emotional Self-medication

Type: Graduate
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

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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.

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PSYC2019GUYTON22707 PSYC

Spirituality Resilience Training as a Method of Treatment in Morally Injured Veterans

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Nathan Guyton Psychology Vishal Thakkar Psychology
Advisor(s): Timothy Barth Psychology
Location: Session: 2; 2nd Floor; Table Number: 6

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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.

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PSYC2019HAYES32319 PSYC

Ovulation, Stimulus Discrimination, and Mate Preferences

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Rylie Hayes Psychology Maddie Kloess Psychology Summer Mengelkoch Psychology
Advisor(s): Sarah Hill Psychology
Location: Session: 2; Basement; Table Number: 6

presentation location

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.

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PSYC2019HILL54918 PSYC

5xFAD mice display cognitive impairment in a novel object placement task

Type: Undergraduate
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

presentation location

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.

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PSYC2019HUNSLEY5655 PSYC

Understanding the Adoptive Sibling Experience

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Jana Hunsley Psychology
Advisor(s): David Cross Psychology Rachel Crawley Psychology
Location: Session: 2; 2nd Floor; Table Number: 4

presentation location

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.

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