February 12, 2016
Dr. Lisa Geraci, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Texas A&M UniversityThe Relationship Between Self-Perception and Cognition in Older Adults
Location: Sewall Hall 301Time: 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Abstract:There are cognitive and neurological changes associated with aging that can lead to memory declines. Yet, memory performance is also affected by one's personal and societal expectations. In my talk, I will present evidence that older adults' memory performance is affected by their stereotypical views about aging as well as their negative performance expectations. I will describe a method we have developed for countering these negative views that is designed to improve memory performance. Similarly, I will describe evidence that shows that older adults' self-perceptions are affected by their expectations and by the social context. The talk will focus on one type of self-perception, that of subjective age (or how old one feels). Subjective age is an important measure of one's self-concept and is associated with meaningful outcomes. For example, having a relatively younger subjective age is associated with higher levels of physical and psychological well-being, superior long-term cognitive abilities, and increased longevity. Recent research shows that subjective age is malleable. I will describe evidence demonstrating that various age-associated contexts (e.g., a memory testing context) and various types of feedback can influence older adults' subjective age. Finally, the talk will conclude with a discussion of the potential social and cognitive consequences of manipulating younger and older adults' subjective age.
Debshila Basu Mallick, Rice University Graduate Student and winner of the 2014 Laughery Award for Best Master's ThesisAn Investigation of Audiovisual Speech Perception Using the McGurk Effect
Location: Sewall Hall 301 Time: 3:30 p.m.
February 20, 2015
Dr. Michael Kaschak, Professor, Department of Psychology, Florida State University Changing Language: Implicit and Explicit Memory Effects
Location: Sewall Hall 301 Time: 3:30 p.m - 5:00 p.m.
Abstract: What do we remember about specific experiences with language? How do these memories affect our subsequent processing of language? I discuss these questions in the context of a series of experiments that examine how language comprehension and production change as a function of changes in our linguistic experience. These studies demonstrate that both implicit and explicit memory effects can contribute to the ways that our linguistic behavior changes across time.
January 30, 2015
Dr. Russell Johnson, Associate Professor, Department of Management, Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State University When good deeds beget bad ones (and vice versa): Licensing effects of citizenship and counterproductive work behaviors
Abstract: I will present a set of three studies that examined psychological licensing owing to work-related behaviors. Psychological licensing occurs when past good deeds (e.g., ethical and prosocial behaviors) lead people to be more comfortable subsequently acting in an unethical or less prosocial manner. In a pilot study we verified that organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and counterproductive work behavior (CWB) are viewed as ethical and unethical, respectively, and thus have the potential to trigger licensing effects. In Study 1 we tested whether reflecting on one’s past OCB or CWB influences subsequent prosocial behavior. In Study 2 we examined whether licensing effects generalize to actual employee behavior at work. Lastly, in Study 3 we examined whether licensing effects are due to moral credits or moral credentials, which are two rival explanations of licensing effects.
Dr. Richard Lucas, Professor, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University The Importance of Life Circumstances for Subjective Well-Being
Abstract: Subjective well-being reflects a person's overall evaluation of the quality of his or her life as a whole. A critical question concerns the extent to which external circumstances predict well-being. Although early research suggested that well-being was primarily driven by personality traits and other stable characteristics, more recent research using longitudinal data has challenged this conclusion. I discuss methodological issues that make answering this question difficult, and I present new evidence that helps clarify the role that life circumstances play.
Laughery Award Colloquium Julie Walker Hughes, winner of the 2013 Laughery Award for Best Master's Thesis in Psychology, Psychology Department, Rice University Facilitation and interference in naming: Is learning the common denominator?
Location: Sewall Hall 309 Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Abstract: The ease with which we produce words is dependent on our prior naming experience. Naming previously presented items results in facilitation (i.e., repetition priming; e.g., Durso & Johnson, 1979) while naming a picture semantically related to previous items results in interference (i.e., semantic interference; e.g., Brown, 1981). A recent computational model (Dark Side Model; Oppenheim, Dell, & Schwartz, 2010) proposes that in both cases, we utilize naming events as “learning experiences” to ensure future efficiency and accuracy for previously named items. By assuming that naming and thereby “learning” a target word causes unlearning of related words to some extent (i.e., learning mechanism), Oppenheim et al. (2010) successfully simulate data from two different categorical naming tasks known to elicit semantic interference (blocked-cyclic and continuous naming). Although these paradigms markedly differ in how they elicit interference (e.g., consecutive vs. interspersed naming of related items), the model suggests that a learning mechanism underlies the interference in both tasks. However, the cause of these interference effects is currently debated (e.g., Howard et al., 2006; Oppenheim et al., 2010), and to our knowledge previous research has not directly compared interference effects across tasks. Using an individual differences approach, we tested predictions from Oppenheim et al.’s (2010) model that variability in semantic interference is correlated across categorical naming tasks and is caused by learning (i.e., as measured by repetition priming). As individuals differ in their susceptibility to semantic interference effects (e.g., Maess et al., 2002), the magnitude of a person’s interference should correlate across tasks if these effects are caused by the same mechanism. Furthermore, individuals vary in their learning abilities (e.g., Woltz & Schute, 1993), which indicates that a task measuring learning should correlate with performance in semantic interference paradigms if semantic interference is caused by learning. While the findings revealed robust semantic interference in both tasks, individual performance did not correlate across paradigms, and learning did not predict semantic interference effects in either task. We conclude that semantic interference in blocked-cyclic and continuous naming is caused by at least partially different mechanisms. Further, the findings question whether learning fully captures the cause of interference in naming.
February 21, 2014
Dr. Matt McGue, Department of Psychology, University of MinnesotaThe contributions of hard and soft skills to social achievement: A behavioral genetic perspective
Abstract: Within psychology, general cognitive ability (GCA, a hard skill) has, historically, been considered the major individual differences contributor to educational and economic outcomes. Recently, researchers from several disciplines, including Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Economics, Developmental Psychology and Sociology have begun to question the primacy accorded GCA. Specifically, soft (i.e., non-cognitive) skills such as personality and motivational factors are increasingly seen as important contributors to social outcomes, in some cases even outweighing the contribution of GCA. In this talk I will make use of several large-scale longitudinal twin and adoption studies undertaken at the University of Minnesota to address the following questions about the origins of individual differences in social outcomes: 1) What is the relative contribution of hard and soft skills?; 2) How do hard and soft skills contribute to intergenerational social mobility?; and 3) To what extent are the contributions of hard and soft skills genetically and environmentally mediated and can we identify the specific factors that underlie these effects? Throughout most of the talk I will focus on one social outcome, attaining a college degree, but will provide some preliminary findings and discuss the relevance the relevance of findings on education for other social outcomes (e.g., employment, financial independence).
January 24, 2014
Dr. Denise Park, Center for Vital Longevity, University of Texas at Dallas Fragile Minds: Protecting the Aging Mind with Neural Scaffolds
Abstract: The aging brain, even in the healthiest older adults, degrades over time, losing volume, connectivity, and dopaminergic receptors, as well as depositing amyloid. The function of the aging brain is remarkably adaptive to these age-related changes. The "Scaffolding Theory of Aging and Cognition" provides an integrative view of how age-related changes in structure and function of the brain operate together to explain cognitive behavior. .
January 22, 2014
Dr. Jarrod Lewis-Peacock, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin The Flexible Deployment of Memory Resources
Location: Sewall Hall 309 Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Abstract: We have multiple memory resources at our disposal: We can actively maintain a few chunks of information in working memory (via sustained neuronal firing), and we can stash away information into our vast repository of past experiences in long-term memory (via synaptic changes). In my research, I am exploring how these processes interact with one another, and how we dynamically deploy these resources in the service of task performance. The recent melding of neuroimaging with machine learning techniques has enabled me to “peek under the hood” and test psychological theories in powerful new ways. By reading out moment-to-moment information trajectories in the brain, I am able to reevaluate core assumptions of memory that have been speculated on for decades. For example: In short-term memory tasks where people can use active maintenance (in working memory) to remember information, do people sometimes use long-term memory instead? If so, when? Does holding information in working memory increase our ability to access that information later on, or can this paradoxically lead to forgetting? In this talk, I will briefly summarize some work that I have completed using this approach, and then I will describe extensions of this work that should provide fresh insights into the cognitive and neural bases of memory.
January 16, 2014
Dr. Eden King, Department of Psychology, George Mason University Stigma at Work: Intraindividual, Interpersonal, and Organizational Perspectives
Location: Sewall Hall 305 Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Abstract: Characteristics can be imbued with such shame and disgrace that they mark bearers as stigmatized. Stigma is magnified in the context of the workplace, wherein social and economic standing is solidified. This talk reviews new evidence of intraindividual, interpersonal, and inter-organizational variability in experiences of and strategies for remediating stigma at work.
Dr. Tammy Allen, Department of Psychology, University of South Florida President, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology The Benefits of Telecommuting: What Do We Really Know?
Location: Sewall Hall 301 Time: 4:30 p.m.
*RESCHEDULED FROM MARCH 8* April 5, 2013
Dr. Alex Martin, NIH Senior Investigator and Chief, Section on Cognitive Neurophysiology, Laboratory of Brain and Cognition Conceptual Representation: From Brain Regions to Neural Circuits
Location: Sewall Hall 301 Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Abstract: For the past 20 years, we have championed the idea that information about the salient properties of an object - such as what it looks like, how it moves, how it is used, as well as our affective response to it - is stored in the perception, action, and emotion systems active when that information was acquired. In the first part of my talk, I will present new data in support of this position with regard to one of our most important, yet most neglected object categories: Food. These studies have provided surprising results with regard to theories of embodied cognition, and the broadly distributed nature of activity associated with the simple task of viewing object images. In the second part of my talk I will expand on the idea of distributed conceptual representation by turning to the broad conceptual domain of social cognition. Using autism spectrum disorders as a model system, I will present data showing how an unbiased, whole-brain, data-driven approach to the analysis of slowly fluctuating spontaneous neural activity can be used to reveal the intrinsic circuitry of the brain.
February 18, 2013
Dr. Cordelia Fine, ARC Future Fellow in Psychological Sciences and Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Melbourne Neurosexism: From scanner to sound bite to psyche to society
Location: Sewall Hall 309 Time: 4:00 p.m.
Abstract: This talk will chart the problematic journey of "facts" about sex differences in the brain: From their production in the laboratory, to popular (mis) representation, to lay-beliefs about gender and their corresponding psychological effects.
February 15, 2013
Dr. Jenessa Shapiro, Department of Psychology, UCLA When do the Stigmatized Stigmatize? Ironic Effects in Blacks' versus Whites' Judgments of Minority Targets
Abstract: Research on intergroup contact has only recently begun to consider the perspectives of both majority and minority group members in tandem. I will present research that takes a dual-perspective approach, examining similarities and differences in traditionally stigmatized and non-stigmatized group members’ experiences and their likelihood of expressing prejudices. In one set of studies I will demonstrate that perceptions of majority group prejudice expression norms diverge for minority and majority group members; whereas Whites perceive a norm condemning prejudice expression, Blacks perceive a norm condoning it. As a result, in a context where evaluations were public to a group of outcome-controlling White males, White men expressed less prejudice whereas Black men expressed greater prejudice (relative to their private responses). In another set of studies I explore the interpersonal consequences of making attributions to discrimination. Specifically, when Black participants received negative feedback from White evaluators, they were less likely than White participants to express prejudice (a self-esteem maintenance strategy). The present findings highlight the importance of taking a relational approach to intergroup interaction and considering the psychology of both frequently and infrequently stigmatized targets.
February 8, 2013
Dr. Michael McCloskey, Department of Cognitive Science, Johns Hopkins University Visual Awareness & Reading: Theoretical & Clinical Implications of a New Form of Alexia
Abstract: I describe a new form of reading impairment, in which visual awareness for letters and/or digits is selectively disrupted. The affected characters appear so blurred or jumbled as to be unidentifiable, although visual perception is otherwise intact. I discuss two cases: MTS, a 12-year-old girl who suffered a stroke, and RFS, a 61-year-old man with a progressive neurological disease. I describe several remarkable features of their deficits, and explore the implications for understanding reading and visual awareness. Finally, I discuss the successful remediation of the impairments in both MTS and RFS, and the clinical implications regarding diagnosis and treatment of reading disabilities.
Dr. Pat DeLucia, Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University Perceptual and Cognitive Factors in Minimally-Invasive Surgery
Abstract: Minimally-invasive surgery (MIS) is becoming the procedure of choice for an increasing number of treatments. Whereas open surgery requires large incisions in the body, MIS relies on small incisions through which surgical tools are inserted, and tissues are viewed with a camera. Although MIS results in less pain and faster recovery time for patients, there are drawbacks for surgeons. These include degraded depth perception, reduced field of view, and perceptual-motor distortions. In a series of studies, surgical task simulators were used to identify factors that affect perceptual-motor performance. Benefits for navigation performance were observed when a preview (and presumably a mental model) of the task environment was provided, and when viewing was active (rather than passive). Manual manipulation and aiming performance were affected by camera angle and the number of camera views, which have consequences for perceptual and cognitive processes. Results suggest several avenues to pursue toward the enhancement of MIS.
April 13, 2012
Dr. James L. McGaugh, Professor of Neuroscience, University of California, Irvine Making Lasting Memories
Location: Herring Hall 100 Time: 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Abstract: As highlighted in two “Endless Memory” segments on CBS’s 60 Minutes, James McGaugh is researching a handful of individuals with extraordinary memories for events in their lives down to the smallest details, such as on which days it rained a dozen years ago. In this talk McGaugh will describe their exceptional gifts and explain what it means for our understanding of memory and the human mind. We know from our personal experiences, as well as extensive research evidence, that emotionally arousing experiences are well remembered. The adrenal stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol activated by arousal play a critical role in creating strong memories. These hormones activate the amygdala, a brain region that is highly interconnected with brain regions involved in processing different forms of memory. Such activation serves to create a strong relationship between the significance of an experience and its subsequent remembrance. Our recent research has identified individuals who have very strong and detailed memories of personal experiences and public events for most of the days of their lives. Current research is investigating the brain systems involved in enabling such strong autobiographical memories.
March 30, 2012
Dr. Dora Angelaki, Wilhelmina Robertson Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine Optimal integration of sensory evidence: A Bayesian journey through our sixth sense
Location: Sewall Hall 301 Time: 1:10-2:30 p.m.
Abstract: As we navigate through the world and interact with our environment, salient computations ensure that spatial orientation is maintained effortlessly, largely because of our sixth sense, the vestibular system. Neural circuits use an internal model of universal physical laws and multisensory integration to resolve ambiguities inherent in our sensors. Further, cortical multisensory integration with visual motion cues ensures improved precision of spatial perception. Both properties are predicted by Bayesian integration in a framework that our brain performs optimal statistical inference. Spatial orientation, balance, and navigation depend on the ability to process motion information from the vestibular system, as well as to integrate this information with other multisensory cues and previous experiences. To achieve this, the brain faces two computational challenges. The first arises from a sensory ambiguity because the otolith organs are equally sensitive to head tilt relative to gravity and to linear acceleration. As pointed out by Einstein over a century ago, this uncertainty arises from the laws of physics and, unless corrected by the brain, this sensory ambiguity can be extremely problematic. Here, we summarize recent theoretical and experimental work that explains how the brain relies on three-dimensional calculus and multisensory fusion to compute an estimate of motion through an internal model of physical laws. Neural correlates of these computations are found within a brainstem-cerebellar network where multimodal signals are combined both temporally and spatially to provide an internal estimate of gravity and linear acceleration. Application of the Bayesian framework shows that these computations are performed optimally, taking into account both cue reliability and a priori knowledge of the statistics of common experiences. The second challenge arises from the necessity to integrate information from different sensory modalities to achieve a single unified percept. Optimal integration models predict that the benefit of multisensory integration depends on the relative reliability of the cues. Here, we explore multisensory cue integration for heading perception using both visual and vestibular signals. A neural correlate of this interaction during a heading direction discrimination task was found in the activity of single neurons in the macaque visual cortex. Neurons with congruent heading preferences for visual and vestibular stimuli show improved sensitivity and lower neuronal thresholds using cue combination. These findings provide the first behavioral demonstration of statistically-optimal cue integration in non-human primates and identify a population of neurons that may form its neural basis.
February 24, 2012
Dr. Sharon Thompson-Schill, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania Cognitive control, conceptual retrieval, and creativity
Abstract: The prefrontal cortex is crucial for the ability to regulate thought and control behavior. The development of the human cerebral cortex is characterized by an extended period of maturation during which young children exhibit marked deficits in cognitive control. We contend that prolonged prefrontal immaturity is, on balance, advantageous and that the positive consequences of this developmental trajectory outweigh the negative. In this talk, I will present new evidence from both functional neuroimaging and non-invasive brain stimulation studies (in adults) that illustrates an example of a context in which cognition benefits from reduced cognitive control: Studies of conceptual processing have revealed that prefrontal cortex is implicated in closed-ended, deliberate memory retrieval, especially left ventrolateral prefrontal (VLPFC) regions. However, much of human thoughtparticularly that which is characterized as creativerequires more open-ended, spontaneous memory retrieval. I will describe an open-ended memory retrieval task that is associated with reduced VLPFC activation (compared to a closed-ended task) and that benefits from temporary VLPFC inhibition (using transcranial direct current stimulation). These findings suggest new ways to think about the relation between creative thought and cognitive control across the lifespan.
October 14, 2011
Dr. David Dickman, Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of MedicineNavigating home: Neural mechanisms for flight control and magnetoreception in birds
Location: Sewall Hall 301Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Abstract:Motion detection, sensorimotor control, spatial orientation, and navigation are all utilize vestibular system cues. Sensorimotor processing must be modulated according to the animal’s behavioral state and we previously demonstrated that motion responses were strongly state-dependent in birds. Here we describe the neural substrates for these state-dependent vestibular behaviors during rest and simulated flight conditions. We show that motion-sensitive vestibular neurons are state-dependent. Some neurons merely increased their firing rates during flight. However, other neurons exhibited state-dependent gating of sensory inputs, responding to motion only during flight. These results demonstrate that vestibular processing in the brainstem is state-dependent and lays the foundation for future studies to investigate the synaptic mechanisms responsible for these modifications. Many animals rely on the Earth’s geomagnetic field for spatial orientation and navigation. In vertebrates, magnetic receptors are proposed for the retina, beak, nose, and inner ear, but how neurons interpret magnetic information is unclear. Magnetic field stimulation activates neurons in several cortical and subcortical regions, identified by immediate gene expression markers. Here we show reliable neuronal responses in the pigeon’s vestibular brainstem that encode magnetic field inclination and intensity, two qualities that are necessary to derive constructs representing directional heading and geosurface location. Our findings establish a robust neural substrate underlying an avian magnetoreception sense.
Corinne Allen, Psychology Department, Rice UniversityA role for phonological short-term memory in task switching
Location: Sewall Hall 309Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Abstract:Shifting, which is the process of switching between two or more tasks, incurs a cost: participants are slower and more error prone when a switch is required, relative to when the same task is performed a second time. The present study investigates whether task switching performance is affected by task-related working memory demands and more specifically, whether shifting ability is related to the ability to maintain semantic and phonological codes in working memory. We tested these hypotheses by measuring task switching abilities in patients with phonological and semantic short-term memory deficits and in older subjects (age-matched to the patients) under standard and articulatory suppression conditions. The results suggest that task- related memory demands impair the shifting performance of patients with STM deficits, and that phonological (but not semantic) retention contributes to shifting performance as task memory demands increase.
Dr. Stephen E. Palmer, Psychology Department, University of California, BerkeleyHuman Color Preferences: An Ecological Valence Approach
Abstract:Color preference is an important aspect of human behavior, but little is known about why people like the colors they do. Recent results from the Berkeley Color Project (BCP) provide an answer. I will report detailed measurements of preferences among 32 colors and the fit of several models to these data, including ones based on cone contrasts, color appearance, color-emotion associations, and Palmer & Schloss's (2010) ecological valence theory (EVT), which is based on the statistics of people’s emotional reactions to colored objects. The EVT postulates that color serves an evolutionary "steering" function, analogous to taste preferences, biasing organisms to approach advantageous objects and avoid disadvantageous ones. It predicts that people will tend to like colors to the extent that they like the objects that are characteristically that color, averaged over all such objects. The EVT predicts 80% of the variance in average preference ratings from the Weighted Affective Valence Estimates (WAVEs) of correspondingly colored objects, much more variance than any of the other models. I will also describe how hue preferences for single colors differ as a function of object-type, gender, expertise, culture, social institutions, and perceptual experience, and how many of these effects can be explained by the EVT.
October 8, 2010
Dr. John Hart, Jr., School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at DallasNeural Hybrid Model of Semantic Memory (ver. 1.1)
Location: Sewall Hall 309Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Abstract:The lecture will focus on elucidating aspects of our (Kraut et al., 2003) model Neural Hybrid Model of Semantic Object Memory (ver. 1.1). The model is so termed because it utilizes several neural frameworks to account for how we store, access, and utilize knowledge of objects in the human brain. Four key tenets of the model that will be discussed include: 1) object memory is organized on a category-based and/or feature-based framework, depending upon the specific semantic memory subsystem (lexical-semantic, visual, sensorimotor, emotional, etc.) A clear example of the co-existence of these schema are the separable feature and category neural representations existing in the nonverbal sound system for animals and threatening items; 2) these categorical and featural representations can link with each other in a variety of manners as noted (e.g., hierarchical, distributed, interactive, conjunctive, independent), partially depending on modality; 3) circumscribed brain regions have been are detected in both focal lesions in single case studies and functional activation studies to mediate semantic processes (e.g., semantic search, categorization, access, multimodal integration, etc.) in a variety of brain regions; and 4) neural mechanisms by which components of an object (features, category membership) from multiple modalities represented at separated sites within the brain can be linked to form an integrated object memory. The mechanisms described in this talk will include synchronous co-activation marked by ~25 Hz time-frequency EEG rhythms that are modulated by the thalamus for retrieval of an object memory and ~4 Hz theta time-frequency EEG rhythms that mediate selection and inhibition of semantic object memories.
September 29, 2010
Dr. Michael S. Beauchamp, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, UT Medical SchoolSee Me, Touch Me, Feel Me: Multisensory Integration in the Human Brain
Location: Sewall Hall 307Time: 12:05-1:00 p.m.
Abstract:Different sensory modalities provide independent sources of information about the world. Integrating this information allows us to make more accurate perceptual judgments. I will describe fMRI, TMS and behavioral experiments aimed at improving our understanding of the neural substrates of multisensory integration, with a focus on multisensory integration of the auditory and visual modalities during language perception and the visual and somatosensory modalities during the perception of touch.
September 21, 2010
Dr. Virginia Valian, Hunter College - CUNY Graduate CenterWho is prize-d in cognitive and developmental psychology?
Location: Sewall Hall 307Time: 12:15-1:15 p.m.
Abstract:What determines who receives prestigious awards in academic psychology? We analyzed curricula vitae of cognitive and developmental psychologists who were Fellows in the Association for Psychological Science. We tabulated researchers' individual characteristics (such as gender), institutional factors (such as the prestige of the location of someone's first job), total number of publications, various citation measures, and the number and prestige of their awards. Our measures account for almost half of the variance in awards. The most powerful citation measure was the number of publications cited 200 or more times (the mode, even for this accomplished group, was 0). We found no sex differences on any variable. If women have the same characteristics that men do, gatekeepers who award prizes appear to treat women and men equally.
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251