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Congratulations Sam Ling!

September 18, 2015—Sam Ling, postdoctoral alumnus from the Blake lab, is an assistant professor at Boston University, and was recently awarded a prestigious Peter Paul Professorship. This award is given annually to promising junior educators in recognition of their exceptional contributions to their field of study. For more details, see:

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!



October 13, 2015 – Clinical Brown Bag Series: Robin Jones

Robin Jones, Hearing and Speech Sciences, Vanderbilt University

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015,

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

The Developmental Stuttering Project at Vanderbilt University studies emotional and linguistic contributions to childhood stuttering  

The purpose of this presentation is to present empirical evidence on the autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity of preschool-age children who stutter (CWS).  Studies have assessed differences 1) between- (i.e., CWS vs. children who do not stutter, CWNS) and 2) within-groups (i.e., association between ANS activity and stuttering frequency). Results indicate salient differences in sympathetic and parasympathetic activity at rest (e.g., lower baseline parasympathetic activity), during speech (e.g., higher parasympathetic activity), and emotional challenge (e.g., increased sympathetic activity during positive conditions).  Theoretical motivation and possible implications of ANS activity in the onset, development and maintenance of stuttering will be discussed.  




October 14, 2015 – CCN Brown Bag Series: Robert Sekuler

Robert Sekuler, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Brandeis University

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015

12:05 p.m. Wilson Hall, Room 115

"The brain’s oscillatory activity influences perception and memory"

Selective attention entails an enhancement of a  task-relevant stimulus or attribute; it also entails the ability to ignore irrelevant or distracting information. Cortical oscillations within the alpha (8–14 Hz) frequency band are a marker of sensory suppression. This suppression is linked to selective attention for visual, auditory, somatic, and verbal stimuli. Inhibiting the processing of irrelevant input makes responses more accurate and timely. It also helps protect material held in short-term memory against disruption. Furthermore, this selective process keeps irrelevant information from distorting the fidelity of memories. Memory is only as good as the perceptual representations on which it is based and on whose maintenance it depends. As will be discussed,  alpha oscillations represent an active, purposeful mechanism that can aid paying attention and remembering things that matter.



October 15, 2015 – Neuroscience Brown Bag Series: Chris Smith

Chris Smith, Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University

Tuesday, October 15, 2015

12:10 p.m. Wilson Hall 316

Individual Differences in Subjective Responses to d-Amphetamine: Insights from behavioral, physiological, and neurochemical measures of dopamine signaling

Subjective responses to psychostimulants vary dramatically across individuals. Here, I will report on analyses aimed at elucidating the nature and neural underpinnings of these individual differences, and their potential implications for addiction vulnerability. First, I will discuss how individuals differ in time to peak subjective effects to oral d-amphetamine (dAMPH), assessed using the Drug Effects Questionnaire (DEQ). Based on the observation of distinct individual differences in time course of DEQ Feel, High, and Like ratings (DEQH+L+F) subjects were categorized as Early Peak Responders (peak within 60 minutes; comprising 20-25% of those studied), Late Peak Responders (peak > 60 minutes; 50-55% of subjects) or Nonresponders (20-30% of subjects). Early Peak Responders showed differences in the physiological and pharmacokinetic effects of dAMPH compared to the other groups and time to peak DEQH+L+F was negatively related to a personality trait associated with heightened addiction risk. Taken together, these data suggest that individual differences in subjective responses to dAMPH may map onto the “rate hypothesis” for drugs of abuse where faster onset of drug effects are associated with heightened potential for their abuse. 

Furthermore, to investigate the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) in these subjective responses, we used Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and the radiotracer 18F-fallypride to measure dopamine D2/3 receptor availability and dAMPH-induced DA release across a subset of our subjects. Specifically, we searched in DEQH+L+F Responders for potential relationships between our DA PET measures and max self-reported drug Like, High, Feel, and Want More ratings on the DEQ. Here, we found that baseline DA receptor availability in vmPFC (a cortical area implicated in subjective valuation) positively correlated with subsequent dAMPH High. Furthermore, dAMPH-induced DA release in vmPFC, insula (involved in interoception and implicated in drug craving), and ventral striatum (previously found to correlate with dAMPH High and Wanting) was correlated with wanting more dAMPH. These findings highlight the importance of variability in DA signaling in specific paralimbic cortical regions in dAMPH’s subjective response, which may confer risk for abusing psychostimulants.



October 20, 2015 – Clinical Brown Bag Series: Terrah Akard

Terrah Akard, School of Nursing, Vanderbilt Medical Center

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015

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

October 21, 2015 – CCN Brown Bag Series: Jocelyn Sy

Jocelyn Sy, Department of Psychology Vanderbilt University

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

12:05 p.m. Wilson Hall, Room 115


October 22, 2015 – Neuroscience Brown Bag Series: Mark Wallace

Mark Wallace, Hearing and Speech Sciences Department, Vanderbilt University

Thursday, October 22, 2015

12:10 p.m. Wilson Hall 316