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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."

Oral Presentation:
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.


Congratulations! Bunmi Olatunji & Hector Myers

February 13, 2014—Wonderful news. Two members of the Psychological Sciences Clinical Science program have just been honored by Division 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology) of APA. Bunmi Olatunji will receive the 2014 Theodore Blau Early Career Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Clinical Psychology Hector Myers will receive the 2014 Stanley Sue Award for Distinguished Contributions to Diversity in Clinical Psychology The awards will be presented at the APA Convention this coming August in Washington, DC. Congratulations Bunmi and Hector for winning these prestigious awards!


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Events

August 21, 2014 – Neuroscience Seminar: Decisions, accumulators and neurons: How secure a bridge?

Jeff Schall, Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University

12:10 p.m. Room 316, Wilson Hall 

Decisions, accumulators and neurons: How secure a bridge?

The conjecture identifying spiking activity of certain neurons with a stochastic accumulator decision process has inspired a vigorous and productive research effort for 20 years. This effort has described decision accumulation processes in multiple brain regions even extending to noninvasive ERP and fMRI measurements. It has been buttressed by models of perceptual categorization, response inhibition and visual search. Lately, though, several new findings have raised questions about the coherence and clarity of the mapping between neurons and decision accumulators. These include the first data showing how neurons identified withris decision accumulators accomplish executive control and speed-accuracy tradeoffs and the first model of response time from ensembles of accumulators.

The new results indicate that mapping between parameters of accumulator models and measurements of neural activity is not as transparent as originally presumed. The accumulator model framework will no doubt remain an effective means of quantifying performance and instantiating computations in various tasks. However, the construction of a more secure bridge between model and neural levels of description will require more assiduity in (1) accounting for multiple stages of processing each adding time and potential errors, (2) incorporating distinct neural processes from heterogenous neurons in diverse neural structures, (3) articulating the transformations between spikes, ERPs, and BOLD, (4) specifying converging constraints to limit parameters in more complex models and (5) appreciating the logical and rhetorical scope of the mapping — true identity, quantitative analogy, or interesting metaphor.


August 26, 2014 – Clinical Science Brown Bag Series: Reyna Gordon

The Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) program presents Reyna Gordon, Department of Otolaryngology & Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt School of Medicine

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

"Who's got rhythm? The surprising link between rhythm and grammar in typical and atypical language development"

Children with grammatical deficits have been reported to show a number of difficulties with linguistic and musical rhythm, such as impairment when using speech rhythm cues to disambiguate syntax or tapping to the beat in music. In addition, data from typical developed adults has shown that the timing of sentences influences syntactic processing. The literature therefore suggests an association between rhythm and grammar, and possible shared underlying brain resources, that have been little studied in children with typical language development. Our study examined the link between musical rhythm perception and linguistic grammar production in six-year-old children with typical language and found a robust association between these seemingly different abilities. Preliminary findings using the same paradigms on children with language impairment will also be discussed. A series of follow-up studies is planned to better understand the mechanisms underlying the association, as well as the potential for music training to improve grammar skills.


August 27, 2014 – CCN Brown Bag Series: Brent Miller

The Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) program presents Brent Miller, Department of Psychology (Palmeri Lab), Vanderbilt University

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

Title and abstract TBA


August 28, 2014 – Neuroscience Seminar: Peter Kaskan

Peter Kaskan, Section on Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, LN, NIMH

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

 

fMRI activation of cortical and subcortical regions in macaque monkeys associated with anticipation and receipt of reward

Cues that have been paired with reward can elicit approach behaviors. These cues are said to acquire incentive salience; the cues themselves are sought as a means of acquiring their associated reward. In an effort to bridge a gap between rodent and human models of reward processing, we developed a behavioral task and fast event-related fMRI paradigm to distinguish BOLD responses to visual cues that predicted reward (anticipation) from responses due to receipt of reward. Monkeys learned to associate images of miscellaneous objects with a high (75%) and low probability (25%) of water reward in choice trials (two cues) and viewing trials (one cue). Monkeys chose high probability cues following two days of training on about 90 percent of choice trials. Monkeys also showed increased licking at the reward delivery spout for high probability cues. Trial start times and reward delivery times were randomized such that BOLD responses due to visual cues could be distinguished from receipt of reward responses. To create a map of reward anticipation, we contrasted fMRI responses from viewing trials of images that had been paired with high probability of reward to those that had been paired with low probability. To create a map of reward receipt, we contrasted responses due to reward delivery to a baseline measurement. In baseline scans, where all cues predicted the same probability of reward, cues that later became paired with a high probability of reward did not elicit greater BOLD responses than cues that later became paired with a low probability of reward. Monkeys showed no choice preferences during baseline scans nor did they demonstrate increased licking. Following training, brain regions responsive to reward anticipation included the dorsal striatum, amygdala, anterior insula, orbital areas 11 and 12, and medial prefrontal area 32. Also, as expected, regions responsive to receipt of reward included the ventral striatum, gustatory cortex, and orbital area 13. Unexpectedly, we identified patches of IT and cortex within the superior temporal sulcus that showed greater BOLD responses to high probability cues than low probability cues. These results corroborate fMRI findings in humans and electrophysiological findings in monkeys demonstrating that the amygdala and striatum are core components of an incentive salience network, and suggest that IT may play a role in representing some aspect of reward predictive visual cues. Experiments designed to test the role of the amygdala in learning from reward feedback and representing reward predictive stimuli are underway.

 


September 2, 2014 – Clinical Science Brown Bag Series

NO SPEAKER SCHEDULED THIS DATE

AN INFORMAL MEETING WITH CLINICAL GRADUATE STUDENTS WILL BE HELD

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

WH 316


September 3, 2014 – CCN Brown Bag Series: Sean Polyn

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

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

Title and abstract TBA

 


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