News and Events
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 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=miodrag+autism and the Times article "When the Caregivers Need Healing" can be found here http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/health/when-the-caregivers-need-healing.html?_r=0 . 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.
Congratulations Emily Fyfe, PEO Scholar!
April 24, 2014—Emily Fyfe, a Ph.D. student in psychology at Vanderbilt University working with Dr. Rittle-Johnson, is one of 85 doctoral students nationwide selected to receive a $15,000 Scholar Award from the P.E.O. Sisterhood. She was sponsored by Chapter N of Nashville, TN. The P.E.O. Scholar Awards was established in 1991 to provide substantial merit-based awards for women of the United States and Canada who are pursuing a doctoral level degree at an accredited college or university. The P.E.O. Sisterhood, founded January 21, 1869 at Iowa Wesleyan College, Mount Pleasant, Iowa, is a philanthropic educational organization interested in bringing opportunities for higher education to women. There are approximately 6,000 local chapters in the United States and Canada with nearly a quarter of a million active members. Congratulations Emily!
Congratulations Gordon Logan!
April 14, 2014—Gordon Logan is the 2014 recipient of the Howard Crosby Warren Medal from the Society of Experimental Psychologists.The Warren Medal is the oldest and one of the most prestigious awards in the field of experimental psychology. As the formal announcement (shown below) of the award made last night at the 2014 Meeting of the Society details, Gordon has made profound theoretical, experimental, and methodological contribution to our understanding of critical phenomena in the area of cognitive psychology. Congratulations Gordon for this well-deserved award!
THE SOCIETY OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGISTS Awards the 2014 Howard Crosby Warren Medal to *Gordon D. Logan* Vanderbilt University "for his innovative and penetrating theoretical and empirical work in attention, automaticity and skill acquisition, executive control, and neural mechanisms of information processing."
Gordon Logan has made profound theoretical and empirical contributions to the study of attention and automaticity, the development of skill acquisition, and the nature of executive control. He pioneered and extensively developed the stop-signal paradigm, which requires subjects to inhibit an ongoing action in response to a stop signal. He conceptualized and modeled performance in the task in terms of a race between the mental processes that govern the action and a "stop process" that inhibits the action. The paradigm provides an elegant approach to assessing the issue of how people inhibit their behaviors, and has been applied successfully to the study of performance in wide varieties of clinical populations who show deficits in inhibitory control.
Logan also developed the hugely influential "instance theory of automatization." The theory holds that automatic processing develops because the observer stores separate representations or "instances" of each exposure to a task. Consistent practice results in an increase in the speed of retrieval of the instances. The theory accounts for fundamental quantitative results involving the speed-up functions associated with practice in cognitive tasks. It formalizes the view that novice performance is limited not by a scarcity of resources but rather by a lack of domain-specific knowledge.
In his recent work, Logan has provided ingenious demonstrations of multiple forms of error-detection processes in skilled typists; has significantly advanced compound-cue retrieval theories of performance in task-switching paradigms; and has made major contributions in a collaborative program of research that uses neural-measurement approaches to constraining information-accumulation models of choice response times and saccadic eye movements.
Are high achievers wrecked by their success? Examining career accomplishment’s association with family, well-being, and health outcomes
Harrison Kell, Quantitative Methods, Vanderbilt Dept. of Psychology & Human Development
Extraordinary career success has long been anecdotally held to cost those who achieve it their personal relationships and their mental and physical health; Freud (1916/1957) even coined the term "wrecked by success" to describe this phenomenon. Current popular work suggests this idea enjoys widespread appeal, but it has been subjected to little empirical scrutiny. We examined the tenability of this idea using two cohorts of intellectually precocious youth. Participants were classified into three "success groups" according to their primary incomes and differences compared across a wide variety of health and interpersonal measures by sex. Criteria ranged from flourishing and positive emotionality to physical and psychological health. The pattern of results does not support the hypothesis that achieving noteworthy career success, as benchmarked by income, must entail enormous personal cost. Overall, scores on health and relationship items did not covary significantly with objectively measured career success. When significant differences were observed, they tended to be small to moderate and favor those who were more successful in their careers (e.g., lower divorce rates, fewer health problems). Results generally replicated across cohorts and sexes. These findings indicate that individuals can achieve career success without necessarily sacrificing their health and personal lives.
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.
The Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) program presents Rob Reinhart, Department of Psychology (Woodman Lab), Vanderbilt University
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.
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.
Cecilia Mo, Political Science Department, Vanderbilt University
12:10 p.m. Room 316, Wilson Hall
Title and abstract TBA
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