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David Lubinski receives Mensa Lifetime Achievement Award!

July 28, 2015—

David Lubinski is the 9th winner of the Mensa Lifetime Achievement Award, given out every other year "in recognition of a lifetime of contributions to the field of intelligence and related subjects." David is the co-director, along with Camilla Benbow, of the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) that has followed the accomplishments of 5,000 highly talented adolescents through mid-life.

The Mensa Foundation stated that David received this award "for his work focusing on the identification of different types of intellectually precocious youth and the conditions for enhancing their learning, work performance and creativity." More information about the award can be found here:

Congratulations, David!

Jennifer Coppola wins the Lisa M. Quesenberry Scholarship

April 22, 2015—The Lisa M. Quesenberry Scholarship Fund was established by Irvin and Mary Ann Quesenberry and Kathryn Quesenberry to memorialize the accomplishments of their daughter and sister, Lisa M. Quesenberry. The scholarship is designed to provide research or study awards to motivated graduate students. The award is targeted to female graduate student who overcame significant personal hurdles to pursue their education. Jennifer is currently a first-year graduate student with Anita Disney. She received her undergraduate degree from the Ohio State University. Not only is Jennifer the first in her family to enter a PhD program, but she is the first to go to college and the first to finish high school. Congratulations, Jennifer.

May Shen and Yao Jiang win The William F. Hodges Teaching Assistant Award

April 22, 2015—This award recognizes outstanding achievement as a teaching assistant by a graduate student in the Department of Psychology. William Hodges was an undergraduate and a graduate student at Vanderbilt in the 1960s. After his untimely death in 1992, family and friends established the William F. Hodges Teaching Assistant Award at Vanderbilt to honor outstanding teaching assistants in the department. May Shen is a graduate student with Thomas Palmeri. She has completed a Certificate in College Teaching from the Center for Teaching and has TAed for a wide array of courses in the department, including PSY208 (Principles of Experimental Design), PSY209 (Quantitative Methods), and PSY225 (Cognitive Psychology); this semester, she is TAing for a statistics course in Psychology and Human Development. Adriane Seiffert, for whom May TAed in PSY208 and PSY209, noted that her work was “exemplary in both courses”, and that students commented that “she was responsive and helpful - gave exact answers to questions”, “conveyed the material in a way she knew would be effective, logical and memorable”. Geoff Woodman, for whom May TAed in PSY225, noted that she “jumped on a week’s worth of lectures when given the opportunity.” Yao Jiang is a graduate student with Vivien Casagrande. She most recently TAed for the introductory NSC201 Neuroscience course. Students commented that Yao is “very energetic and very very smart”, and that “her review sessions helped so much”. Dr. Leslie Smith, who Yao TAed for in Neuroscience, commented that “She was always eager to volunteer for jobs as they sprung up during the semester. Her exam reviews were spot on, and students raved about her upbeat, enthusiastic personality during these sessions. … I truly enjoyed working with her. She was so positive, a breath of fresh air every lecture day.” Congratulations, May and Yao.

Rob Reinhart wins The Pat Burns Memorial Graduate Student Research Award

April 22, 2015—This award is named after Pat Burns, who was Education Coordinator in the Department of Psychology until her death several years ago; Pat touched generations of doctoral students during her nearly four decades of service to Vanderbilt University. In memory of her tireless efforts to help guide our students through all phases of their graduate education, this award recognizes outstanding achievement in research by a graduate student in the department. This year’s winner, Rob Reinhart, is a PhD student working with Geoff Woodman, Jeff Schall, and Sohee Park. He received his BA from the University of Connecticut. Rob was awarded a pre-doctoral NRSA fellowship and already has 12 peer-reviewed publications in top journals, such Psychological Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Cerebral Cortex, and Journal of Neuroscience. Congratulations, Rob.

Josh Cosman and Jennifer Richler win Bob Fox Award of Excellence in Post-Doctoral Research

April 22, 2015—This award is granted to post-doctoral fellows in the Department of Psychology who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in research; it is named in honor of Robert "Bob" Fox for his essential role in guiding the evolution of Vanderbilt's Psychology Department over a five-decade period starting in the mid-60s. Josh Cosman is a postdoctoral fellow with Geoff Woodman and Jeff Schall. He earned his BS and PhD from the University of Iowa and was awarded a post-doctoral NRSA. He has 26 peer-reviewed publications and is on the editorial board at two major journals. Jennifer Richler earned her PhD at Vanderbilt with Isabel Gauthier and Thomas Palmeri and has continued on at Vanderbilt as a post-doctoral fellow. She previously won the Nunnally Dissertation Award and the Pat Burns Graduate Student Research Award from the department. She has 30 peer-reviewed publications and is an Associate Editor at JEP:General. She also spearheaded the PeePs (Particularly Exciting Experiments in Psychology) newsletter that highlights research published in the six experimental psychology journals from APA. Congratulations, Josh and Jenn.

Congratulations Laura Hieber!

April 13, 2015—Laura has been awarded the 2015-2016 Curb Center Public Scholars Grant. She gets a research grant of $2000, a shared office at the Curb Center and affiliation with the Curb Center for Arts, Enterprise, and Public Policy. Also they will support her stage her presentation logistically and financially. The grant is designed to support and mentor students as they work on projects that feature innovative approaches to real-world problems.

Daniel Miller wins a 2015 Summer Research Award

April 2, 2015—Congratulations to Daniel Miller for winning a 2015 Summer Research Award from the College of Arts and Science. These competitive awards are designed to help graduate students with outstanding potential to accelerate progress on their research; Summer Research Awards support endeavors that require funds in addition to the stipend, including research for the doctoral thesis, research for other advanced projects, or scholarly activities that significantly advance professional development. Congrats Daniel!



September 1, 2015 – Clinical Brown Bag Series: Steve Hollon

Steve Hollon, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University

Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015

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

"Is Cognitive Therapy Enduring or are Antidepressant Mediations Iatrogenic?"


Cognitive therapy appears to have an enduring effect that reduces risk for subsequent relapse and recurrence by about half relative to antidepressant medications following treatment termination. However, these conclusions are almost wholly derived from direct comparisons between prior cognitive therapy versus prior medication. Findings from the extended maintenance phase of our most recent trial suggest that cognitive therapy provided in combination with medication does little to prevent subsequent recurrence. These findings raise the concern that adding medications may interfere with the enduring effects of cognitive therapy as they do in panic. Moreover, depression appears to have “coarsened” over recent decades and there are concerns that antidepressant medications may suppress symptoms at the expense of prolonging the underlying episode. Antidepressant medications are known to work by perturbing the complex homeostatic regulatory systems that underlie affective response and differences in that perturbation are associated with risk for relapse following medication discontinuation. It remains unclear whether cognitive therapy truly has an enduring effect or antidepressant medications have an iatrogenic effect that that either interferes with cognitive therapy’s enduring effect or (even worse) prolong the length of the underlying episode. Studies are described that could resolve this issue and the potential implications discussed.

September 2, 2015 – CCN Brown Bag Series: Tom Palmeri

Approaches to Model-based Cognitive Neuroscience

Tom Palmeri Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University

Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015

12:10 p.m. Wilson Hall, Room 115

Cognitive modeling has a rich history of formalizing and testing hypotheses about cognitive mechanisms within a mathematical and computational language, making exquisite predictions of how people perceive, learn, remember, and decide. Cognitive neuroscience aims to identify neural mechanisms associated with key aspects of cognition, using techniques like neurophysiology, electrophysiology, and structural and functional brain imaging. These two come together in a powerful approach called model-based cognitive neuroscience, which can both inform model development and model selection and help interpret neural measures. Cognitive models decompose complex behavior into representations and processes and these latent model states are used to explain the modulation of brain states under different experimental conditions. Reciprocally, neural measures provide data that help constrain cognitive models and adjudicate between competing cognitive models that make similar predictions of behavior. I will outline a first attempt to develop a taxonomy of different approaches to model-based cognitive neuroscience, often making references to our collaborative work at Vanderbilt, highlighting potential strengths and weaknesses of different approaches.

September 3, 2015 – Neuroscience Brown Bag Series: Jon Kaas

The evolution of parietal-frontal networks for specific actions in primates

Jon Kaas, Ph.D., Department of Psychology Vanderbilt University 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

12:10 p.m. Wilson Hall 316

For over ten years we have been using electrical stimulation of the cortex as the primary tool in our studies of posterior parietal-to-frontal motor cortex pathways that are mediating specific classes of motor behavior in primates. The electrical stimulation has been useful, as it gives us a lot of control over the behavior as we manipulate the networks. We have studied prosimian primates, New World monkeys, and Old World monkeys, as well as other mammals to reveal similarities and differences in the networks, and suggest how they might have evolved. Our anatomical and physiological studies have led to results that support a number of conclusions. Most important, all primates likely have interacting networks for eight or more classes of behavior that involve domains in posterior parietal cortex, premotor cortex, and primary motor cortex. The domains function as a feed-forward posterior parietal-to-premotor-to-motor cortex series. Electrically stimulating any domain evokes slight variations of a specific behavior as a result of focused feedforward projections. Domains interact in ways that modify or inhibit specific behaviors via lateral connections in each cortical region, and by feedback connections. Other inputs contribute to each cortical region to modulate the final behavioral outcome. Close relatives of primates, tree shrews and rodents, do not have the large posterior parietal cortex of primates, and their posterior parietal cortex plays a minor role in motor behavior. The extensive expansion of posterior parietal cortex that is found in humans suggests an increased and more varied role in sensorimotor behavior.


September 8, 2015 – Clinical Brown Bag Series: Steve Brunwasser

Steve Brunwasser, Kennedy Center for Research, Vanderbilt University

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015

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

Title and abstract: TBA

September 9, 2015 – CCN Brown Bag Series: Ming Meng

Ming Meng, Ph.D., Center for Social Brain Sciences. Dartmouth University

Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015

12:10 p.m. Wilson Hall, Room 115

Fluctuations of fMRI activation patterns underlie the theta-band rhythmic effects of visual object priming

To efficiently interact with an ever-changing environment, the brain dynamically responds to sensory stimulation. Notably, whereas high-frequency gamma band activity may directly underlie neuronal spike coordination (Crick & Koch, 1990), slower waves carrying (multiplexing) faster waves appear to be a common perceptual coding strategy in the brain (VanRullen & Koch, 2003). Recent behavioral studies further suggest a theta-band rhythm (4-7 Hz) in the effects of attention and priming (e.g., Fiebelkorn, Saalmann, & Kastner, 2013; Song et al., 2014; Huang, Chen, & Luo, 2015). Here, I investigate three possible brain mechanisms that may lead to such rhythmic behavioral effects: 1) object representations may be rhythmic in the inferior temporal (IT) cortex; 2) Object representations may be constant, but attentional selection of the representations may be rhythmic; 3) Sensory sampling may be rhythmic as early as the primary visual cortex, therefore all the subsequent processes may also be rhythmic. To test these possibilities, activity corresponding to visual object priming was measured in regions of interest (ROIs) across the whole brain by using fMRI.  Critically, to examine rhythmic effects, time-resolved measurements of fMRI activation patterns were attained by varying trial-by-trial stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) between prime and probe in small steps of 20ms (equivalent to a 50Hz sampling rate). Our behavioral results replicated previous findings, showing theta-band oscillations in the priming effects of reaction times as a function of SOA. More interestingly, multivariate pattern analysis of the fMRI data also demonstrated theta-band oscillations as a function of SOA and an out-of-phase relationship between congruent and incongruent conditions in the IT cortex. No such effects were found in the BA17 or the frontoparietal attention network. This study is the first to map theta-band rhythms across the whole human brain using fMRI. Our results suggest that object representation is oscillatory with theta-band rhythms in the IT cortex, providing insights to understanding the dynamic mechanisms underlying visual perception.


September 10, 2015 – Neuroscience Brown Bag Series: Siyuan Yin

Siyuan Yin, Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015

12:10 p.m. Wilson Hall 316