News and Events
Congratulations to Ben and Anat!
November 26, 2014—Dr. Benjamin-Tamber Rosenau and Anat Fintzi, post-doctoral fellow and graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. René Marois, respectively, have won the best poster award at the 2014 Object Perception, visual Attention, and visual Memory (OPAM) annual conference held in Long Beach, CA, for their work on the spatial resolution of visual working memory. This award is given in recognition of the best research (poster division) presented at this conference.
Dr. Kei Fukuda wins the APA Division 3 award for best Psychonomic Society poster!
November 24, 2014—We would like to congratulate Dr. Kei Fukuda, postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Geoff Woodman’s lab, for winning the American Psychological Association’s Division 3 award for best Psychonomic Society poster at the annual meeting in Long Beach, California. This prestigious early career award recognizes excellent work in the experimental domain. Great work, Kei!
October 27, 2014—Kris Preacher won the Tanaka Award for Best Article of 2013 in the journal Multivariate Behavioral Research. This award was given by the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology for the article: Preacher, K.J., Zhang, G., Kim, C., & Mels, G. (2013). Choosing the optimal number of factors in exploratory factor analysis: A model selection perspective. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 48, 28-56.
Welcome Anita Disney!
October 2, 2014—The Department of Psychological Sciences would like to welcome our newest faculty member. here is a news piece on her work.
September 30, 2014—Pooja Balaram, a graduate student in Jon Kaas' lab, has won the 2014 Krieg Cortical Scholar Prize awarded by the Cajal Club Foundation to a junior neuroscientist who has conducted exemplary research on the cerebral cortex and/or its connections.
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
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.
The odds ratio and its alternatives: Measure-specificity of effects
Andrew Tomarken, Vanderbilt Department of Psychology
The odds ratio (OR) is among the most commonly used statistical measures of association or effect. It is by far the most commonly reported measure when dependent variables are binary and it is ubiquitous in studies focusing on the association between risk factors and disease outcomes. Unfortunately, most scientists are largely unaware of the mathematical and statistical properties of the OR and its differences, strengths, and weaknesses relative to alternative measures. After discussing several historical reasons for the popularity of the OR, I will describe several common misinterpretations and mistaken assumptions made by researchers based on an ongoing review of published research in medical and psychological journals. At various points, comparisons will be made to two alternative measures of effect, the relative risk (RR) and the risk difference (RD). Two overriding points will be emphasized: (1) Conclusions about the nature, functional form, and magnitude of effects derived from the OR will often not generalize to alternatives. Thus exclusive reliance on the OR can provide a highly selective or even misleading picture of the phenomenon under study; and, (2) Different measures are sensitive to different features of data, and at a more fundamental level, may reflect differing -- yet almost always unstated -- assumptions about the nature of main effects and interactions. I will conclude that: (1) It is important for researchers to determine those measures and models that best fit the goals of the study, the conceptualization of risk, and other aspects of the substantive phenomenon under investigation; (2) In the absence of a clearly optimal choice, researchers should report multiple measures to provide a more complete picture of the effects of predictors on binary measures; and, (3) Researchers need to expand on the cryptic verbal descriptions typically offered to describe effects and to supplement the presentation with appropriate graphical and other tools.
Isabel Gauthier, Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University
12:10 p.m. Room 115, Wilson Hall
Title and abstract TBA
Kacie Dougherty, Department of Psychology (Maier Lab), Vanderbilt University
12:10 p.m. Room 316, Wilson Hall
Spiking responses in V1 couple to the infragranular alpha LFP phase
The alpha-range (8-12 Hz) neural rhythm, prominent over occipital cortex, is a predictor of performance on visual tasks. Specifically, visual performance and attentional selection have been shown to co-vary with the ongoing alpha cycle recorded on the scalp. Despite its relationship to visual performance, little is known about how intracortical alpha rhythms impact visual processing. Recordings in primary visual cortex of monkeys revealed that alpha-band local field potentials (LFP) in deep cortical layers couple with gamma-range (>30 Hz) amplitude within the same column during the resting state. This finding is consistent with the notion that infragranular neurons can control neural excitability in other layers. However, the precise relationship between spiking activity within a cortical column in visual cortex and intracortical alpha-range rhythms is still unknown. Here, two macaque monkeys fixated while static grating stimuli were presented inside of the receptive field under study. During this time, we recorded LFP and multiunit spiking activity from all layers of V1 simultaneously. We found that throughout a visual stimulation period lasting several hundred milliseconds, spiking activity in all layers was relatively decreased at the time of alpha troughs recorded in the deep layers compared to spiking at alpha peaks. Specifically, the magnitude of spiking activity at alpha troughs was nearly half that at alpha peaks. These results align with the idea that infragranular neurons mediate gain control. Given that effects of attention vary with alpha activity, this alpha modulation of visual spiking responses could have implications for determining how neural activity in visual cortex is differentially shaped by alpha rhythms with and without attention.
The Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) program presents Sonia Poltoratski, Department of Psychology (Tong Lab), Vanderbilt University
12:10 p.m. Room 115, Wilson Hall
Title and abstract TBA
Careers with the US Government: A Professional Development Workshop for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows in Psychological Sciences and Neuroscience
Vicki Ahlstrom, Engineering Research Psychologist Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Friday March 20, 2015 Location TBA 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Vicki Ahlstrom is an Engineering Research Psychologist and Technical Lead for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the Human Factors Branch at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City. She is responsible for research and standards development related to air traffic systems. Vicki was in the graduate program in Psychology at Vanderbilt from 1992-1997 under the guidance of Randolph Blake. In addition to talking specifically about her own career path and past and present job responsibilities working for the FAA, she will talk in general about some of the kinds of jobs available for those with graduate degrees in psychology and neuroscience with federal government agencies, careers in government, how jobs are advertised, how job applicants are evaluated, and general tips when considering this possible career path.
Lea Williams, Ph.D., Professor, Stanford University
Thursday April, 2, 2015
Title, Abstract, and location : TBA