Skip to Content

Psychological Sciences

Home > News > News and Events

News and Events


Congratulations Megan!

September 23, 2016—

Megan Ichinose is on the Chancellors mental health initiative committee!

Congratulations Isabel & Tom!

September 12, 2016—Congratulations on a new three-year grant from the National Science Foundation on Measuring, Mapping, and Modeling Perceptual Expertise; PI is Isabel Gauthier, co-PI is Thomas Palmeri, and Senior Investigators are Sun-Joo Cho from Vanderbilt, Gary Cottrell from UCSD, and Mike Tarr and Deva Ramanan from Carnegie Mellon. This project supports a collaborative interdisciplinary research network that aims to develop measures of individual differences in visual recognition, relate behavioral and neural markers of individual differences, develop models that explain individual differences, and relate models with neural data.

Congratulations, David and Camilla!

September 9, 2016—Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth Discussed in Nature The SMPY (Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth) was the topic of a feature news article published in the journal Nature on September 8th. The SMPY was found by Professor Julian Stanley in 1972, and is now run by Professor David Lubinski and Dean Camilla Benbow. Congratulations to David and Camilla on a fascinating article about an amazing research study.

Congratulations Steve!

September 7, 2016—Steve Hollon has won the 2016 Joseph Zubin award from the Society for Research in Psychopathology (SRP)! The SRP bestows this award each year to one deserving individual for lifetime contributions to the understanding of psychopathology. It was established in 1986 and officially named the Joseph Zubin Award in 1990. It is considered the most prestigious award for psychopathology research.



Congratulations Sohee, Geoff and Leslie!

August 26, 2016—A few of our faculty were highlighted at the 2016 Fall Faculty Assembly. Sohee Park and Geoff Woodman received a Chancelor's research award for their groundbreaking work on using tDCS for improving people with schizophrenia in error detection and control and Leslie Smith was congratulated for her 25 years of service in teaching and undergraduate education at Vanderbilt.

Congratulations, David, Jonathan and Harrison!

August 15, 2016—SMPY investigators win three awards for research excellence! Congratulations to the investigators of the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), who won three 2016 Awards from the Mensa Education and Research Foundation! These awards are given for "outstanding research on intelligence, intellectual giftedness and related fields." Study Co-director David Lubinski won one for his recent Psychological science article; former student Jonathan Wai (MS'05, PhD'09) won one for his recent Intelligence article; and former post-doc Harrison Kell won one for his recent Psychological Science article. More information about these articles and their respective awards can be found here:

Congratulations Eva!

August 8, 2016—Congratulations goes to Eva Sawyer for winning the J.B. Johnston Club for Evolutionary Neuroscience, Thomas Karger Thesis Award.

Eva Sawyer was a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience program, who graduated in 2016, and carried out her research in Jon Kass' lab.

Learn more about the JBJC at this link



October 25, 2016 – Clinical Science Brown Bag Series

Joshua Wade

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Vanderbilt University


Wilson Hall Room 316

An adaptive platform for simulated driving assessment: results in teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Driving is an essential part of life for over 200 million people in the United States, where vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teenagers. While neurotypical drivers must be vigilant in an environment of distracted, aggressive, or inebriated motorists, drivers with neurodevelopmental disorders may present characteristics unconducive to optimally safe driving, exacerbating the challenge of driving. In the case of individuals with ASD, characteristics such as atypical gaze processing and impaired motor coordination are likely to influence driving performance. However, it is only recently that researchers have begun to investigate driving performance in the ASD population. Given the risks of on-road driving assessment, driving simulators are a convenient alternative. Commercial driving simulation systems do not currently offer closed-loop adaptivity from modalities other than performance, such as eye gaze or physiology. To fill this gap, we developed VADIA: VR Adaptive Driving Intervention Architecture. VADIA presents a variety of driving scenarios designed to challenge drivers on basic tasks, including turning, merging, and speed-maintenance. Importantly, VADIA can be configured to adapt its internal parameters (e.g., difficulty) according to measured features of the driver’s physiological state or gaze patterns. The results of three separate studies using VADIA with adolescents with ASD are presented.


October 26, 2016 – CCN Brown Bag Series

G. Christopher Stecker

Department of Hearing & Speech

Vanderbilt University


Wilson Hall Room 113

Spectrotemporal weighting of auditory spatial cues: sound localization, neural mechanisms, and applications to virtual 3D audio

Human spatial hearing is remarkably robust to distortion from multiple talkers, distracting noises, echoes, and reverberation. Although the neural mechanisms of this facility are not well understood, many studies point to the importance of binaural and spatial cues present at sound onset and during other fluctuations of the temporal envelope. Specifically, envelope fluctuations appear to trigger the sampling and representation of binaural information in the auditory brainstem. The result is a robust and spectrotemporally sparse representation of the auditory scene. This presentation begins with a review of the psychophysical and neural evidence for such a triggering process, followed by an exploration of signal-processing algorithms that mimic and/or exploit that process in two key ways. First, temporal envelopes are exploited for perceptually guided spatial sound synthesis. Second, temporal fluctuations are used to analyze binaural recordings and estimate features of the auditory scene. These applications provide critical tests of the triggering hypothesis, the general role of temporal envelope fluctuations in binaural hearing, and the neural mechanisms of integrated binaural perception. Further, they provide powerful tools for the design of efficient audio communication systems and devices that interface with human participants in real or virtual spatial settings.

October 26, 2016 – Psychology and Human Development Colloquium: Michael Olson

Michael Olson

Department of Psychology

University of Tennessee

4:00 pm

Hobbs 105

“Implicit Bias: Pervasiveness, Defensiveness, and a Gentler Intervention” 

Despite documented reductions in blatant prejudice over the past several decades, subtler forms of prejudice persist. Implicit bias can be defined as the unintentional mistreatment of individuals based on perceived group membership. I will review evidence for the pervasiveness of implicit bias in a variety of academic and employment domains. Then I’ll describe a theoretical framework for conceptualizing implicit bias, highlighting the processes through which bias manifests in social judgments and behavior. A particular challenge to reducing the effects of implicit bias is raising awareness without provoking defensiveness. Evidence suggests that direct confrontational approaches often fail, or even backfire, which has led my lab to seek less reactive alternatives. I’ll describe some preliminary evidence that a two-step intervention involving self-affirmation and introspection may be effective in reducing the impact of implicit bias on social judgments.

October 27, 2016 – Neuroscience Brown Bag Series

Leah Krubitzer

Department of Psychology

University of California, Davis


Wilson Hall Room 316

Cortical plasticity within and across lifetimes: Contributions to the Cortical Phenotype

The neocortex is the part of the brain that is involved in perception, cognition, and volitional motor control. In mammals it is a highly dynamic structure that has been dramatically altered within an individual’s lifetime and in different lineages throughout the course of evolution.  These alterations account for the remarkable variations in behavior that species exhibit. Because we cannot study the evolution of the neocortex directly, we must make inferences about the evolutionary process from a comparative analysis of brains, and study the developmental mechanisms that give rise to alterations in the brain.  Comparative studies allow us to appreciate the types of changes that have been made to the neocortex and the similarities that exist across taxa, and ultimately the constraints imposed on the evolving brain. Developmental studies inform us about how phenotypic transitions may arise by alterations in developmental cascades or changes in the physical environment in which the brain develops.  We focus on how early experience shapes the functional organization and connectivity of each individual’s brain and behavior to be uniquely optimized for a given sensory milieu. Such plasticity plays an integral role in shaping the brains of normal individuals, as well as those that have lost or altered sensory inputs, such as congenitally deaf or blind individuals.    This loss of sensory input early in development leads to dramatic changes in both the normal organization and connections of the neocortex as well as in sensory mediated behavior.  Studies have also demonstrated that enhanced sensory experience that occurs during critical periods of development has a profound effect on the resultant organization and connectivity of the neocortex.  In our experiments we examined the specific types of alterations that occur when individuals develop with lost or enhanced sensory inputs in both experimental and natural settings.  Because all aspects of complex social experience including parental rearing and sibling interactions are mediated by our sensory systems, it follows that these types of complex patterns of sensory inputs are fundamentally important for shaping both the organization and connectivity of the neocortex.  In turn, the ultimate behavior generated by the neocortex will be highly adaptive for the context in which the individual develops.

October 31, 2016 – Quantitative Methods Colloquium Series

All Work and No Play: Using Goals to Explain the Purpose of Traits

Kira McCabe, SMPY Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt Dept. of Psychology & Human Development

Theories of motivation and personality have a rich history in psychology; however, these disciplines largely developed independent from each other. This work bridges this divide by explaining how goals and traits are intricately linked. We used Whole Trait Theory to test the hypothesis that personality trait manifestations (i.e., personality states) serve as the outcome of momentary goal pursuit. Specifically, we tested whether goals predicted state extraversion and state conscientiousness, and we used a variety of methodologies to investigate several questions. Are the goals that people pursue in their daily lives related to their fluctuations in personality states? Do these goals cause changes in personality states? Is there agreement between observer ratings and self-report ratings of goal pursuit and personality states?

November 1, 2016 – Clinical Science Brown Bag Series

Neil Woodward PhD

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine


Wilson Hall Room 316

Title & Abstract TBA