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Alex Maier's Findings on eye-signal blending re-examine Nobel-winning research

1/24/2019 —Look at an object, cover one eye at a time, and the object appears to jump back and forth. Stare at it with both eyes working, and we take for granted a complicated process of the brain combining the signals into one, giving us a clear view and proper depth perception. That happens the moment those dual signals enter the visual cortex in the brain, a team of Vanderbilt University researchers has discovered. Their finding, made possible by modern technology, is counter to one that garnered the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Vanderbilt’s Alexander Maier, assistant professor of psychology, and Ph.D. student Kacie Dougherty used computerized eye-tracking cameras plus electrodes that can record activity of single neurons in a particular area. Knowing precisely where the signals meet and the brain processes them is vital to treating amblyopia, or reduced vision in one eye because the brain and eye aren’t working together properly. So far, the standard treatment is placing a patch over the working eye in an effort to jumpstart the “lazy” one. If pediatric eye specialists miss the short window when the problem can be fixed, it’s typically permanent. “Our data suggest that the two eyes are merged as they arrive in the neocortex and not at a later stage of brain processing, as previously believed,” Maier said. “This major leap in our understanding of how the brain combines information from the two eyes is promising for our search for therapeutic approaches to some of the most common eye diseases in children.” Knowing which neurons are involved in the process also opens the door to targeted brain therapies that reach well beyond eye patches. “There are six functionally distinct layers in the primary visual cortex,” Dougherty said. “We thought the initial processing happened in the upper layers, but it’s actually in the middle. That’s vital information for developing treatments.” Their findings appear today in a paper titled “Binocular modulation of monocular V1 neurons” in the journal Current Biology. Their work was supported by National Eye Institute grant 1R01EY027402-01, National Eye Institute Training Grant 5T32 EY007135-23, the Whitehall Foundation, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Share This Story AddThis Sharing Buttons Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to LinkedInShare to SlackShare to EmailShare to PrintFriendlyShare to More Media Inquiries Heidi Hall · (615) 322-NEWS ·  Explore Story Topics Education and Psychology Health and Medicine releases Research Alexander Maier Arts and Science eye signal blending psychology Research Vanderbilt Research Trending visual cortex Related Stories PhotoTeam finds how error and reward signals are organized within cerebral cortex Jan 14, 2019 PhotoWhy does it take humans so long to mature compared to other animals? Look to your neurons! Oct 30, 2018 PhotoCenter for Integrative and Cognitive neuroscience hosts workshop Oct 19, 2018 PhotoStudy reveals safety signal from genes that mimic drugs Mar 1, 2018


Psychological Sciences Alumnae Named Finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship!

12/12/2018 —Sarena Martinez, MS’16, Psychological Sciences alum and honors student, was named a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, an international postgraduate award for study at the University of Oxford. Martinez, who studied psychology in the College of Arts and Science, was one of the 880 students endorsed by their institutions and invited to interview for one of the 32 Rhodes Scholarships awarded annually. Martinez is currently a Venture for America Fellow in the city of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity.


In Honor of the Late Vivien Casagrande!

11/08/2018 —

At a ceremony yesterday(11/6/18) at meetings of the Society for Neuroscience our friend and colleague Vivien Casagrande was announced as the 2018 winner of the Patricia Goldman-Rakic Hall of Honor Award. Named in honor of the late Paticia Goldman-Rakic, this award is given posthumously for recognition “of a neuroscientist who pursued career excellence and exhibited dedication to the advancement of women in neuroscience.” To quote from the SfN website:

 

The late Vivien Casagrande, PhD, was an internationally known neuroscientist with a remarkable record of groundbreaking research on sensory systems and development. She joined the Vanderbilt University faculty in 1975, where she was a professor of biology and psychology. Her research, which mapped the visual brain circuitry in a variety of species, has advanced the understanding of the development and evolution of the mammalian visual system.

 

Casagrande published 130 research papers in neuroscience and authored or coauthored an additional 30 chapters and reviews. She received numerous awards for her research, including the American Association of Anatomists' C.J. Herrick Award for contributions to comparative neuroscience, the Vanderbilt Chancellor's Award for Research, and election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Casagrande was a past president of the Cajal Club, the nation's oldest neuroscience society, and served twice as president of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. Her teaching and mentoring contributions were recognized by her receipt of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award in 2015.

 

Casagrande passed away in 2017 from cancer. Vanderbilt has honored her memory by establishing an endowed lecture series and an endowed, annual travel award for an outstanding graduate student or postdoctoral fellow. In addition, funds from Casagrande's estate have been used to endow a scholarship in neuroscience at Vanderbilt. 

 

 

 

We are happy that her husband, James McKenna (Professor Emeritus, Vanderbilt) will have the crystal bowl marking this honor.

 

 


Caoimhe Stack, Ariel James, and Duane Watson win 2018 Clifford T. Morgan Best Article Award!

9/13/2018 —aoimhe, Ariel, and Duane are the recipients of the 2018 Clifford T. Morgan Best Article award for the most outstanding paper published this year in Memory & Cognition, a journal of the Psychonomic Society. Caoimhe will be recognized at the Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society for this honor and will receive a $1,000 award. The award-winning article was selected by the Editor of the journal and is entitled "A failure to replicate rapid syntactic adaptation in comprehension." The article is available at this link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758%2Fs13421-018-0808-6 and more information about the award can be obtained here: https://www.psychonomic.org/page/clifford_t_morgan. Congratulations Caoimhe, Ariel, and Duane!


Congratulations Daryl, Jurnell and René !

8/24/2018 — Daryl Fougnie, Jurnell Cockhren and René Marois win the 2018 Clifford T. Morgan Best Article Award for the article entitled "A common source of attention for auditory and visual tracking" published in Attention, Perception & Psychophysics in the past year. This is the second best 'journal article' award to Fougnie for his Ph.D. work in Marois' lab. The Psychonomic Society Clifford T. Morgan Best Article Award honors individuals for the best paper published in each Psychonomic Society journal in the last year. Articles are chosen by each of the Society's journals during the summer and the selected first authors of those papers will be honored at the Annual Meeting and receive a monetary award. One recipient from each journal is chosen to receive a $1,000 award.


Dykens wins the 2018 Rare Impact Award from the National Organization for Rare Disorders!

5/22/2018 —Professor Elisabeth Dykens has been selected to receive the 2018 Rare Impact Award from the National Organization for Rare Disorders. Her research focuses on the behavioral studies of Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) and Williams Syndrome and was the first researcher to describe cognitive profiles and compulsivity in PWS patients. More information about this award is available here, https://rarediseases.org/elisabeth-dykens-ph-d-2018-rare-impact-award-honoree/. Congratulations Elisabeth!


Congratulations Hao Wu!

4/11/2018 —Hao Wu, an incoming member of the Quantitative Methods (QM) Program within the Department of Psychology and Human Development, was just honored with election into the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology (SMEP). SMEP is a distinguished group of quantitative psychologists limited to 65 members worldwide (https://www.smep.org/). SMEP is dedicated to the advancement of multivariate quantitative methods and their application to substantive problems in psychology and related fields. Congratulations Hao on this much deserved achievement!


Smokies Cognition and Neuroscience Symposium [SCANS]

4/02/2018 —The 2018 Smokies Cognition and Neuroscience Symposium [SCANS] sponsored by Duke, Emory, Georgia Tech, UNC, and Vanderbilt will be held September 14-15 at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, in Asheville, NC.

Participating Vanderbilt Psychology & Psychology & Human Development faculty includes James Booth, Sarah Brown-Schmidt, Isabel Gauthier, Kari Hoffman, Gordon Logan, Tom Palmeri, Sean Polyn, Frank Tong, Thilo Womelsdorf, Geoff Woodman, & David Zald.

https://www.vanderbilt.edu/psychological_sciences/news/Documents/SCANS_flyer.pdf


Congratulations Noah Robinson!

3/19/2018 —Clinical psychology graduate student Noah Robinson's work is featured in the Tennessean! https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/03/18/why-vanderbilt-researcher-using-virtual-reality-fight-opioids/327886002/

Noah has also been selected as a recipient of the 2018 NIDA Young Investigator Travel Award. He has been invited to attend the 49th ASAM Annual Conference in San Diego in April 2018. The travel award will include a $1,200 monetary award to be used to defray expenses incurred in attending the conference, complimentary registration, as well as a ticket to the ASAM Awards Luncheon.  The award also includes a one year complimentary ASAM membership.


Benbow and Lubinski win 2018 ISIR Lifetime Achievement Awards

2/17/2018 —Professors Camilla P. Benbow and David Lubinski have been selected to receive The International Society for Intelligence Research’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Intelligence. Benbow and Lubinski co-direct the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development. The 50-year longitudinal study of 5,000 highly talented individuals is the world’s foremost long-term examination of intellectually gifted individuals. Benbow is the Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development. Lubinski is professor of psychology and human development and an investigator at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development. Both have been honored with Mensa Education and Research Foundation Lifetime Achievement Awards and similar awards from the National Association for Gifted Children. Benbow and Lubinski will receive the ISIR Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization’s annual conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, in July. At the 2019 ISIR annual conference in Minneapolis, they are to share their latest round of results from their study and deliver the keynote address.


Sterba wins 2018 Early Career Impact Award from FABBS!

2/13/2018 —Sonya Sterba was awarded the 2018 Early Career Impact Award from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS) which "recognizes scientists who have made major contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior." FABBS is focused specifically on promoting the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior in the U.S as well as advocacy and educational activities before the U.S Congress and federal science agencies. Sonya, an Associate Professor and Director of the Quantitative Methods Program in the Department of Psychology and Human Development, was nominated for the award by the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology. As part of the award she will be interviewed and an article about her research will be written for the general public. More information about this award is available here: http://fabbs.org/honoring-our-scientists/
Congratulations, Sonya!


Sterba receives 2018 Anne Anastasi Distinguished Early Career Contributions Award from APA!

2/13/2018 —Sonya Sterba, an Associate Professor and Director of the Quantitative Methods Program in the Department of Psychology and Human Development, just won the 2018 Anne Anastasi Distinguished Early Career Contributions Award from the Quantitative and Qualitative Methods Division of the American Psychological Association. This award "recognizes outstanding contributions to quantitative research methods" and will be associated with a presentation at the 2018 APA Convention. More information about the award can be obtained here: http://www.apadivisions.org/division-5/awards/anastasi-early-career.aspx
Congratulations, Sonya!


Kate Humphreys named 2018 Association for Psychological Science (APS) Rising Star!

1/04/2018 —Kathryn (Kate) Humphreys, who will be joining the department of Psychology & Human Development in 2018, has been selected as a 2018 APS rising star. This prestigious award places Kate among an impressive group of early stage faculty who are already making significant contributions in psychological science. Her work has largely centered on early adversity, as stress in early life increases the risk for a number of difficulties across the lifespan. Kate s postdoctoral research at Stanford focused on examining how early experiences manifest physiologically, as well as identifying potential avenues to enhance the caregiving environment for children at risk for psychopathology. Congrulations Kate!


Emily Fyfe named 2018 Association for Psychological Science (APS) Rising Star!

1/02/2018 —Emily Fyfe, a former Peabody Psychology & Human Development Ph.D. student (advisor: Bethany Rittle-Johnson) has been selected as a 2018 Association for Psychological Science (APS) Rising Star. This prestigious award places Emily among an impressive group of early stage faculty who are already making significant contributions in psychological science. Emily's research in cognitive development focuses on the development of mathematics knowledge and problem solving with the of goal understanding how children think and learn about math, both independently and with instructional guidance. Congratulations Emily on this well-deserved award!


Welcome Autumn and Kate

10/30/2017 —The Department of Psychology and Human Development would like to welcome two new faculty members, Autumn Kujawa and Kate Humphreys.

Autumn Kujawa’s research focuses on identifying predictors of the development of psychopathology and improving early intervention efforts, especially in regards to emotional processing, life stress, and the development of depression and anxiety in childhood and adolescence. She is also interested in developing novel approaches for predicting response to early intervention and providing more specific targets for treatment. Her work integrates multiple methods, including behavioral, psychophysiological (e.g., startle reflex, event-related potentials), and neural measures (e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging) in order to better understand emotional processing across levels of analysis. Autumn received her PhD in clinical psychology from Stony Brook University in 2015 before completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She joins us from Penn State University where she is currently an Assistant Professor.

Kathryn (Kate) Humphreys joins us from Stanford University where she is currently a postdoctoral fellow. Kate received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2014, and completed her clinical internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the Tulane University School of Medicine with a focus on Infant Mental Health. Kate is broadly interested in the development of psychopathology. Her work has largely centered on early adversity, as stress in early life increases the risk for a number of difficulties across the lifespan. Kate’s postdoctoral research at Stanford focused on examining how early experiences manifest physiologically, as well as identifying potential avenues to enhance the caregiving environment for children at risk for psychopathology.



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