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Congratulations to Vanderbilt all-University Undergraduate Research Fair award winners!

September 23, 2014—"We would like to extend a hearty congratulations to our undergraduate students who made award winning presentations in Vanderbilt’s recent Undergraduate Research Fair.” From A&S Psychology First Place Julia Zhu ’15 – Psychology “Improving Error Monitoring in Schizophrenia Through Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation” Advisor: Dr. Sohee Park, Psychology In a tie for Second PlaceSydney Waitz-Kudia ’15 – Psychology and English “Media Influence on Non-Suicidal Self-Injury” Advisor: Dr. David Cole, Psychology & Human Development From Peabody Psychology First Place Meghan Collins ’15 – Neuroscience & Cognitive Studies “Decoding the deficit: across-task analysis of memory impairments in schizophrenia” Dr. Sean Polyn, Psychology In a tie for Second Place Junyi Chu ’15 – Child Development & Cognitive Studies “The Role of Phonological Awareness and Inhibition in Reading” Dr. Bethany Rittle-Johnson, Psychology & Human Development

Congratulations Psychological Sciences Undergraduates!

September 23, 2014—the following awards have been made for posters recently presented at Vanderbilt's first all-University Undergraduate Research Fair. The awards are evidence of the excellent research being conducted by our undergraduates, and also speak to the mentoring given not only by faculty but also by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. In the present instances, by Rob Reinhart (Woodman lab) to Julia Zhu, and by Megan Ichinose (Park lab) to Meghan Collins. These awards honor the transparency between the two departments that give rise to Psychological Sciences, with an A&S winner being mentored by a Peabody faculty member and vice versa. The awards also show that the successes of our collaborative research efforts trickle down to impact the quality of the research training received by our undergraduates. Congratulations to all involved. Jo-Anne From A&S Psychology First Place Julia Zhu ’15 – Psychology “Improving Error Monitoring in Schizophrenia Through Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation” Advisor: Dr. Sohee Park, Psychology In a tie for Second Place Sydney Waitz-Kudia ’15 – Psychology and English “Media Influence on Non-Suicidal Self-Injury” Advisor: Dr. David Cole, Psychology & Human Development From Peabody Psychology First Place Meghan Collins ’15 – Neuroscience & Cognitive Studies “Decoding the deficit: across-task analysis of memory impairments in schizophrenia” Dr. Sean Polyn, Psychology In a tie for Second Place Junyi Chu ’15 – Child Development & Cognitive Studies “The Role of Phonological Awareness and Inhibition in Reading” Dr. Bethany Rittle-Johnson, Psychology & Human Development

Maier receives Society of Neuroscience Career Award. Congratulations Alex!

September 3, 2014—Assistant Professor of Psychology Alexander Maier has been selected to receive the Society for Neuroscience's Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award for 2014. The purpose of the award, which is given to only two individuals each year, is "to recognize individuals who have demonstrated originality and creativity in research and to promote success during academic transitions prior to tenure." Maier was recognized for his efforts to understand the basic mystery of how perception arises from neural activities. A prime focus of his research program is to differentiate between the neural circuitry that is involved in visual perception and sensory activity that does not attain the level of conscious awareness. His work has important implications for treating patients with visual disorders characterized by an inability to perceive or recognize certain types of visual images. He is also one of a handful of scientists studying the relationship between the electrical activity in the brain and the variations in blood flow that are measured by the brain mapping technique fMRI, the most commonly used and most reliable method for measuring neural responses in the human brain- Recipients receive a $2,000 award and complimentary registration to the society's annual meeting.

Braden Purcell wins honorable mention for James McKeen Cattell Award

August 15, 2014—Braden's PhD dissertation, Neural Mechanisms of Perceptual Decision Making, has been chosen to receive honorable mention in the 2013-2014 James McKeen Cattell Dissertation competition sponsored by the Psychology Section of the New York Academy of Sciences. The field was highly competitive, with many excellent candidates for the award. His work was highly regarded by the reviewers and by the Steering Committee. The Academy further commended the work of his mentors, Thomas Palmeri and Jeffrey Schall, and the graduate program in Psychological Sciences at Vanderbilt University. In recognition of his noteworthy achievement, he will receive a certificate from the New York Academy of Sciences; his mentors will be similarly recognized. Congratulations Braden!

Elizabeth Dykens' research featured in the Times!

July 30, 2014—Dr. Elizabeth Dykens' research on reducing distress among caregivers of developmentally delayed children has been featured in the New York Times. Dr. Dykens and colleagues conducted a randomized trial published in Pediatrics comparing effects of mindfulness training and positive psychology practice on mothers' stress, depression, and anxiety. More about the study can be found here and the Times article "When the Caregivers Need Healing" can be found here . Congratulations Dr. Dykens!

Congratulations NSF Awardee and Honorable Mentions!

April 24, 2014—Congratulations to NSF awardee Sarah Wiesen, who works with Dr. Amy Needham! Congratulations to our NSF Honorable Mentions: Sofia Jimenez, who works with Dr. Meg Saylor; Megan Ichinose, who works with Dr. Sohee Park; and Josh McCluey, who works with Dr. Sean Polyn!

Congratulations Lindsey Rowe, Fulbright recipient!

April 24, 2014—Lindsey Rowe, Cognitive Studies, Second Language Studies, Child Development & Spanish, '14 was has been selected for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in Spain for the 2014-2015 academic year. As an ETA, Lindsey will support English language instruction in an elementary or secondary school in Spain. She will also give presentations on topics related to US culture, society, and history, lead programs in language labs, conduct English conversation clubs, tutor, and hopes to coach a girls soccer team. This opportunity fits well into Lindsey's plans to pursue a PhD focusing on second language acquisition research. As a student at Vanderbilt, she designed a curriculum and taught an ESL class for Latino adults in Nashville, many of whom also lacked literacy in their native language. She also spent three weeks in Ecuador as a volunteer ESL teacher in a 1st grade and a 9th grade classroom. Over the past year, she worked in the language development lab and wrote her honors thesis on bilingual learners. The Fulbright US Student Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, was established by the U.S. Congress in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas to "enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries". Operating in more than 155 countries worldwide, it is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars, and professionals to undertake teaching, advanced research and study across all disciplines. Vanderbilt students interested in learning more about Fulbright opportunities should contact Lyn Fulton-John in the Office of Honor Scholarships. The application deadline for grants beginning in the Fall of 2015 is September 15, 2014.



September 23, 2014 – Clinical Science Brown Bag Series: Laura Hieber

Laura Hieber, Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University

12:10 p.m. Room 316, Wilson Hall

Social isolation, loneliness and positive syndrome in the schizophrenia spectrum:  a test of the social deafferentation hypothesis

 Schizophrenia is characterized by social withdrawal, along with hallucinations and delusions of typically social and emotional nature. However, a causal relationship between these symptoms has not yet been determined. The social deafferentation hypothesis (SDH, Hoffman, 2007) posits that delusions emerge in vulnerable individuals when prolonged social isolation triggers over-activation of the social brain network, thus fabricating social meaning. Increased tendency for schizophrenia patients to falsely ‘detect’ social meaning in randomness has been previously observed in biological motion (BM) perception studies using point-light displays (Kim et al, 2011). To systematically test the effects of social isolation on false detection of social stimuli in the schizophrenia-spectrum, we manipulated social Inclusion/Exclusion using Cyberball in healthy participants. In Study 1, a BM detection task assessed endorsement of BM at increasing degrees of scramble after social manipulation. The Inclusion group exhibited more efficient extraction and detection of social information from scrambled displays than the Exclusion group. Increased schizotypy correlated with increased loneliness across groups. Study 2 is designed to directly test the SDH by examining the relationship between social isolation and rates of false detection of BM in random noise. Future work will examine social isolation intervention efforts to diminish distressing positive symptoms in schizophrenia.


September 24, 2014 – CCN Brown Bag Series: Rob Reinhart

The Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) program presents Rob Reinhart, Department of Psychology (Woodman Lab), Vanderbilt University

Wed. 9/24/14


WH 115

Electrical stimulation repairs executive dysfunction in schizophrenia

Approximately 25 million people worldwide suffer from schizophrenia, yet current knowledge of the illness and conventional treatment options are limited. Here we show that noninvasive electrical brain stimulation can effectively reduce some of the executive control deficits in schizophrenia. We found that transcranial direct-current stimulation over the medial-frontal cortex increased neural activity related to error processing in schizophrenia patients, which is characteristically reduced or absent in the illness. Second, this manipulation of medial-frontal activity caused improvements in a number of behavioral metrics of adaptive control, including task accuracy, the corrective behavior following an error, and learning rates. Third, the electrophysiology and behavior related to executive functioning in schizophrenia patients after stimulation were quantitatively indistinguishable from that of healthy participants. These results suggest an approach for remediating disrupted reward prediction error dopamine related signaling in schizophrenia. These results may have direct application to future intervention therapy development for patients with psychiatric illnesses.



September 25, 2014 – Neuroscience Seminar: Jane Burton

Jane Burton, Department of Hearing & Speak (Ramachandran Lab), Vanderbilt University

12:10 p.m. Room 316, Wilson Hall

Auditory Perceptual Filters in Macaque Monkeys

The cochlea is thought to be comprised of a series of overlapping bandpass filters, which are used to detect and resolve the components of sounds. Fletcher (1940) proposed the power spectrum model of masking, which assumes that all acoustic energy that falls within an auditory filter (signal + noise) will contribute to one’s ability to perceive a stimulus using that filter. The critical band is a measure of frequency resolution that represents the bandwidth of noise at which signal threshold ceases to change and can be derived directly from auditory filter shape. The critical band has been well quantified in humans and other mammalian species, but little work has been done to examine critical bands in monkeys. This study examined the auditory perceptual filters of macaque monkeys using a noise notch widening paradigm. The monkeys were trained to detect pure tone signals in the presence of a broadband noise masker. Portions of the noise were removed around the signal frequency symmetrically and asymmetrically to examine the upper and lower edges of the auditory filters. Macaque critical bands were found to be comparable to human data, as derived from both the critical ratio and rounded exponential function modeling. The auditory filters were also asymmetric at high noise levels, as seen in humans, with a broader lower edge and narrower upper edge. This critical band data provides further support for the use of macaques as a model for human hearing. These behavioral data will be used as a basis for neurophysiological investigations of the neuronal mechanisms underlying auditory perceptual filters. Additionally, this study will serve as a normal hearing baseline for comparison to testing on monkeys with noise-induced hearing loss in the future. 



September 30, 2014 – Clinical Science Brown Bag Series: Cecilia Mo

Cecilia Mo, Political Science Department, Vanderbilt University

12:10 p.m. Room 316, Wilson Hall 

Title and abstract TBA

October 1, 2014 – CCN Brown Bag Series: David Ross

The Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) program presents David Ross, Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University

12:10 p.m. 115 Wilson Hall

Title and abstract TBA

October 2, 2014 – Neuroscience Seminar: Justin Siemann

Justin Siemann, Vanderbilt Brain Institute (Wallace Lab), Vanderbilt School of Medicine

12:10 p.m. Room 316, Wilson Hall

Studies of multisensory function in the mouse model: circuit and disease implications

This presentation will focus on studies to develop and implement behavioral tests that assess sensory and multisensory function in the mouse model, and to utilize these tests to characterize (multi)sensory function in a mouse model of autism. The work represents the first of its kind to systematically examine sensory and multisensory function in mice. These studies are focused on identifying potential underlying mechanisms and circuits involved in multisensory processing in a mouse. This evaluation will be of value to those interested in studying the neural bases of multisensory function, as it will allow the application of powerful genetic, pharmacologic and optogenetic tools to questions of mechanistic relevance. The strongly translational aspects of the research will allow the application of these tools to a well-established mouse model of autism developed here at Vanderbilt. If, as hypothesized, multisensory deficits are seen in these mice, these studies will provide fundamental insights into the nature of sensory and multisensory dysfunction in autism and serve as an essential foundation for future work aimed at better characterizing the neural underpinnings of these deficits and their links to behavior.