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Effects of Neural Manipulation of the Nucleus Accumbens on Reward Loss

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Quynh Nguyen Psychology Sara Guarino Psychology Christopher Hagen Psychology Mauricio Papini Psychology
Advisor(s): Mauricio Papini Psychology
Location: Zoom Room 5, 02:23 PM

The current study aimed to investigate the neurobehavioral mechanisms underlying devaluation of expected rewards. In rats, frustration effects of reward loss are produced using the reward downshift (RD) situation. RD postshift phase involves two stages. After an initial suppression of sucrose consumption (Stage 1), behavior recovers to baseline levels (Stage 2). During Stage 1, nucleus accumbens (NAc) neurons release lower levels of dopamine, but it is not known whether they participate in the recovery process (Stage 2). We hypothesized that NAc activity would be important for the recovery process following a 32-2% sucrose downshift. The study explored the role of the NAc by selectively targeting both RD postshift stages using chemogenetics. Inhibitory or excitatory Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADDs) were delivered into the NAc of rats via intracranial infusion and activated prior to downshift sessions via intraperitoneal injection of Clozapine N-Oxide (CNO), the activator drug for DREADDs. Rats were assigned to one of three neural manipulation condition, inhibition (INH), excitation (EXC), or control (CON), and received either CNO or Vehicle (veh) on postshift sessions. Thus, there were two groups in each neural manipulation condition: INH/CNO, INH/Veh, EXC/CNO, EXC/Veh, Control/CNO, and Control/Veh. Preliminary results revealed that NAc inhibition does not disrupt sucrose consumption during RD postshift. However, NAc excitation increases consummatory suppression and slows the recovery process. This pattern of results suggests that the chemogenetic manipulation may be affecting GABAergic projection neurons within the NAc, increasing the suppression of dopamine release, and resulting in suppressed behavioral response.

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Lecture Fluency Impacts Instructors' Ratings of Other Instructors' Teaching

Type: Graduate
Author(s): Paige Northern Psychology Addison Babineau Psychology
Advisor(s): Uma Tauber Psychology
Location: Zoom Room 3, 03:35 PM

There are many factors that can impact students’ evaluations of instructors’ teaching. Lecture fluency (i.e., the ease with which a lecture is delivered) is one factor that can impact students’ evaluations. Recently, researchers have examined how fluent lectures (very polished lectures during which the instructor makes appropriate eye contact and exudes confidence) compared to disfluent lectures (lectures during which the instructor does not make eye contact and does not display signs of confidence) impact students’ evaluations of instructors. Students who watch fluent lectures typically evaluate the instructor more favorably relative to those who watch disfluent lectures, even when the content in both lectures is identical (Carpenter, Mickes, Rahman, & Fernandez, 2016; Carpenter, Northern, Tauber, & Toftness, 2020; Carpenter, Wilford, Kornell, & Mullaney, 2013; Northern, Tauber, St. Hilaire, & Carpenter, in prep; Toftness, Carpenter, Geller, Lauber, Johnson, & Armstrong, 2017). All of the research on lecture fluency has focused on students’ evaluations of instructors, but the delivery of a lecture may also impact instructors’ evaluations of other instructors’ teaching. On the other hand, instructors have much experience both watching and delivering lectures, and it is possible that they may rely more on their experience when evaluating instructors rather than the fluency of a lecture. In this study, students and instructors watched a video of a lecture. The lecture was delivered either fluently or disfluently, and the content was the same in both lectures. After watching the lecture video, students and instructors rated the instructor on several evaluation items. Novel to the current study, instructors who watched a fluent lecture gave significantly higher instructor ratings compared to those who watched the disfluent lecture. Replicating prior work, students who watched a fluent lecture gave significantly higher instructor ratings relative to students who watched the disfluent lecture. Thus, the delivery of a lecture rather than the content of a lecture can have a strong impact on instructors’ evaluations of other instructors’ teaching.

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The effects of trait imageability and extrapolation on metacognitive outcomes

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Monica Parra Psychology Kaleigh Decker Psychology Charles Lord Psychology
Advisor(s): Charles Lord Psychology
Location: Zoom Room 6, 01:26 PM

Our research lab has found that individuals tend to adopt more extreme attitudes toward an outgroup (i.e., become self-radicalized) when they extrapolate from known to unknown traits about the outgroup. Recent lab findings have also suggested that trait imageability, or the ability to form a mental image of a trait, can influence the effects of extrapolation on self-radicalization, such that people were more likely to become self-radicalized when they extrapolated to traits that were relatively difficult, compared to relatively easy, to form a mental image of. The current experiment examined whether the effects of trait imageability on extrapolation also influence metacognitive outcomes. We found that participants who extrapolated to traits that were difficult to form a mental image of subsequently reported that they knew more about the outgroup, had greater confidence that they knew how the outgroup members would behave, and were more likely to believe the initial information about the outgroup was accurate, compared to participants who extrapolated to traits that were easy to form a mental image of and compared to control participants. The current findings established an important link between and the effects of trait imageability on extrapolation and subsequent metacognitive measures.

(Presentation is private)


Experiences and Challenges of Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) Practitioners in Implementing TBRI with Spanish-speaking Clients

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Alex Reyes Psychology Danica Knight Psychology
Advisor(s): Danica Knight Psychology
Location: Zoom Room 1, 01:34 PM

The growing population of Spanish speakers in the U.S. has created challenges related to translating and adapting interventions to serve this diverse population. This qualitative study examined how Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) practitioners currently handle challenges due to language and cultural issues among their primarily Spanish-speaking clients. Eight TBRI® practitioners in 4 different Latin American countries were recruited to complete an online background survey and a 30 to 45-minute virtual interview. Preliminary results indicate that TBRI® practitioners face challenges in regards to their clients’ education level, literacy rates, access to curriculum-related materials, and cultural views on the TBRI® correction principle. Practitioners handle these challenges by simplifying the language used in the materials, explaining content with culturally-relevant examples, creating items that can be used in lieu of ones used in the materials of curriculum, and having patience with clients as they learn a new way of parenting. The goal of this project is not only to bring awareness of translation language barriers and cultural issues with TBRI® materials but to help the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development adapt materials, so there is a more appropriate and easily received response to the material among primarily Spanish-speaking children and families.

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Computer-Assisted Foreign Language Vocabulary Instruction

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Carson Smith Psychology
Advisor(s): Anna Petursdottir Psychology
Location: Zoom Room 5, 12:38 PM

A foreign language is a non-native language acquired outside of a natural linguistic community. The benefits of learning a foreign language include that it heightens employability, positively affects cognitive functioning, and increases cross-cultural awareness. The goal of this study was to compare the effects of a pair-test (PT) procedure and a high-density response construction (HDRC) procedure on foreign-language vocabulary acquisition. We used a within-subjects pretest-posttest design combined with a single-subject multielement design. Nine participants received instructions with 10 Arabic words; 5 words were taught via HDRC instruction, and 5 via pair-test. We hypothesized that participants would learn faster in the HDRC condition and perform better on transfer and retention tests. However, preliminary results suggest that there was no difference between conditions.

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Evaluating Class Reorganization in Equivalence-Based Instruction

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Gregory Tomlinson Psychology Juliana Sequeira Cesar de Oliveira Psychology
Advisor(s): Anna Petursdottir Psychology
Location: Zoom Room 6, 03:11 PM

Previous research evaluated the extent to which equivalence-based instruction (EBI) is more efficient or produces stimulus classes with different properties than complete instruction (CI) in which all relations between stimuli in a class are taught directly. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the flexibility of the formed stimulus classes in EBI and CI procedures with a contingency reorganization. Forty-eight undergraduate students received training to establish 3 stimulus classes with 4 members in each class. The students were randomly assigned to two groups: EBI – in which they received training for some of the relations – and CI – that targeted all possible relations between the members of each class. After undergoing training and equivalence test (Phase 1), participants received contingency reorganization training (Phase 2). In the reorganization phase, the relations A1B2, A2B3, A3B1 were stablished as correct. Class flexibility was evaluated in an immediate contingency-reversal post-test. The EBI group required fewer training trials to complete ABCD training, and performed similarly to the CI group in the equivalence test. Additionally, EBI group required less training trials in the reorganization training, and performed better in the reorganization test when compared to CI group.

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Effects of Verbal Disruption on Derived Stimulus Relations

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Cullen Westerfield Psychology
Advisor(s): Anna Petursdottir Psychology
Location: Zoom Room 1, 12:54 PM

I examined the effects of disrupting verbal mediation in a task that models the effects of verbally presented information on conceptual behavior. The experiment was done asynchronously by sending participants a SuperLab 6.0 software experiment, requesting a screen recording using Zoom, and acquiring demographic, consent, and exit interview information using Qualtrics. Sixty-four participants were randomly assigned to four conditions. The tact-intraverbal (TI) groups first learned to match visual stimuli with verbal labels, and then to associate pairs of verbal labels. The intraverbal-tact (IT) groups received the opposite sequence. After training, all groups were tested for new relationships between the visual stimuli. One TI group and one IT group were given an additional verbal task during the test, which was predicted to disrupt the performance more in the IT than the TI condition, due to IT participants being more reliant on solving the task verbally. No significant differences in accuracy or reaction time were noted between groups. However, only 47% of those in the IT-V group and 13% of those in the TI-V group actually performed the additional verbal task. The experiment should be repeated through real-time video calls or in person, so that participant instruction-following can be monitored and intervened on.

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COVID-19 and Asian Attitudes

Type: Undergraduate
Author(s): Jordan Williams Psychology Olivia Egloff Psychology
Advisor(s): Cathy Cox Psychology
Location: Zoom Room 2, 03:03 PM

COVID-19, an unprecedented virus that shifted into a global pandemic almost a year ago, has greatly impacted the human way of life. Recent research, however, has shown that in the United States discrimination towards people of Asian descent has risen dramatically. From a terror management perspective, this heightened discrimination might be due to a defense mechanism to buffer death-anxiety through enhancing one’s cultural belief. The current study evaluates whether priming thoughts of COVID-19 leads to heightened death-related thoughts and increased racism towards Asians (i.e., worldview defense). Data was collected from 175 Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) workers. Our findings suggest that COVID did not influence attitudes toward Asians and international communication through increased mortality awareness. The current work will discuss possible limitations and directions for further study.

(Presentation is private)


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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