Colloquia

Spring 2020

March 6, 2020
Dr. Vicki Magley, Professor of Psychology, University of Connecticut

Studying Workplace Sexual Harassment: A Lesson of Perseverance

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: With the eruption of the #MeToo movement, research on workplace sexual harassment suddenly became important and needed. What it is -- its frequency -- its antecedents and consequences -- how individuals and organizations manage it. All of this needed to be understood, by the lay reader of popular press articles and scholars, alike. I'll trace 25 years of (mostly my own) research in this domain, including these core facts and key takeaway points, in an effort to highlight that the 25-year wait was worth it!

February 12, 2020
Dr. Nancy Cooke, Professor of Human Systems Engineering at the Polytechnic School, Arizona State University

Human-Autonomy Teaming: Can Autonomy be a Good Team Player?

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: A team is an interdependent group of three or more people who have different roles and who interact with one another toward a common goal. Teams can engage in physical activities as a unit (e.g., lifting a patient from bed), as well as cognitive activities (e.g., specialists coordinating on a patient’s diagnosis). Team cognition is the execution of these cognitive activities (e.g., perception, planning, decision making) at a team level. But do teammates need to be people? Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning have provided machines with increasingly levels of autonomy. The human-machine relationship can shift from humans supervising machines to humans teaming with machines. But do machines have what it takes to be good teammates? In this talk I will discuss what we know about team cognition in human teams and present some findings from studies of human-autonomy teams.

January 22, 2020
Dr. Kathleen McDermott, Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Radiology, Washington University in St. Louis

Individual Differences in Learning Efficiency

Location: BRC 280
Time: 11:00AM – 12:30PM

Abstract: Most research on long-term memory uses an experimental approach whereby participants are assigned to different conditions, and condition means are the measures of interest. This approach has demonstrated repeatedly that conditions that slow the rate of learning tend to improve later retention. A neglected question is whether aggregate findings at the level of the group (i.e., slower learning tends to improve retention) translate to the level of individual people. I will show that—across healthy young adults—people who learn more slowly tend to retain less. The positive correlation between learning rate (speed of learning) and retention (amount remembered after a delay) across people is referred to as learning efficiency. I will show that measures of one’s learning efficiency are stable over time. Further, a person’s learning efficiency correlates with neural activity during initial encoding. Finally, I will examine whether speed of learning predicts the shape of their forgetting function and will consider directions for future research.

FALL 2019

November 1, 2019
Dr. Alicia Grandey, Professor of Psychology, Penn State University

Collisions at the Intersection of Professional and Personal for Today’s Workforce

Location: Herring Hall 100
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: Today’s organizations encourage employees to “bring your authentic self to work”; but do they really mean it? For many, particularly women, the professional and personal collide in ways that can be distressing due to the expectations of traditional work environments. I will highlight some of my past research that illustrates the intersection of personal and professional (e.g., work-family conflict, emotional labor), and the associated human cost in the form of toxic emotions, burnout, sexual harassment, partner distress, and alcohol consumption.
I will then focus on how I’ve now taken an even more “personal” research direction, to understand how worker’s bodies – specifically sex-differentiated hormonal fluctuations - collide with work expectations (Grandey, Gabriel & King, 2019, JOM). The taboo around such bodily experiences means they evoke shame, disgust, and fear, tend not to be voiced or studied, yet might explain gender disparities in both health and career trajectories. I will present some initial research directions around these ideas, inviting your feedback on this work in progress.
Through this talk, I intend to argue that (1) the professional and personal often intersect and collide; (2) that these collisions can evoke toxic emotions made worse when we suppress or ignore them; (3) that we must deal with the discomfort of seeing these collisions and try to be first responders - not bystanders – in our research and practice.

September 27, 2019
Dr. Michael Kubovy, Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia

Lives as Collections of Strands

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: In this lecture I generalize the notion of multiple self-aspects to create a descriptive framework in which I decompose lives into containers of activities called strands. Strands are nearly-decomposable life-modules, structured, stable, and concurrent longitudinal streams of extended duration whose momentary cross-section constitute self-aspects. They are differentiated by five features: (a) the person's role, (b) the cast, (c) the setting, (d) norms and values, and (e) habits and routines. Strands contain habits, routines, projects, and episodes, and are replete with narrative. Each strand is continuous (i.e., strands persist when a person moves between them), and for the most part strands are mutually asynchronous. From a first-person perspective, the strands are continuous and concurrent but only one strand is in the foreground at a given time. The idea that a transition between strands is akin to a figure-ground reversal, suggests that a life is different from the sum of its strands: it is a nonlinear system which can take on configurations that would not be predicted from a comprehensive description of the individual strands. Two examples are the achievement of greatness while severely handicapped and instances of extreme self-sacrifice.

SPRING 2019

April 12, 2019
Dr. Valerie Purdie-Greenaway, Professor of Psychology, Columbia University

Social connection, persistence, and inequality: A social network approach to studying inclusion in schools and workplaces

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: In this talk, I explore how social networks —the system of interpersonal relationships in which individuals are embedded—shape student persistence and success over time. The vast majority of research investigating strategies to increase student persistence and success has focused on building individual resources, including both cognitive (e.g., abstract thinking or study strategies) and non-cognitive skills (personality or “character skills” such as self-control and grit). In contrast, little work has investigated methods of building students’ social resources as a means of helping them persevere and thrive in academic settings. This talk explores whether building students’ social networks through brief, low-cost social psychological interventions can promote persistence and success over time in difficult academic settings. This talk explores social networks in the context of biology students in a difficult introductory STEM course and women of color in a challenging business school course. The talk ends drawing links between workplace and school models of inclusion and the social networks in which people are embedded.

February 15, 2019
Dr. Marlene Behrmann, Professor of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

A broader vision of object recognition: beyond ventral cortex

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:00PM – 4:30PM

Abstract: The neural correlates of object recognition are typically assumed to be under the purview of the ventral pathway of the cortical visual system. Decades of empirical studies using neuroimaging as well as single unit recording in awake behaving non-human primates have supported this conclusion. I will describe some recent studies from my lab that examine the nature of these ventral neural representations including investigations that permit the reconstruction of the images displayed to the observer using fMRI data acquired from ventral cortex. I will then go on to argue that signals associated with object recognition extend beyond ventral cortex and that representations in the dorsal visual pathway and even in subcortical regions are tuned to represent shape and identity properties of objects. I will describe several studies using fMRI and psychophysics in both normal and brain-damaged individuals that support the role of these other regions in the recognition of visual objects. I will suggest that objects are widely represented in the brain and the challenge is to understand the necessity and sufficiency of these representations.

January 24, 2019
Dr. Nathan Rose, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Notre Dame

A dynamic processing approach to the short-term/long-term memory distinction: insights from neuroimaging, neurostimulation, aging, and affective processing

Location: Herzstein Hall 210
Time: 4:15PM – 5:45PM

Abstract: In this talk I will review the ways in which short-term memory, and its relations with long-term memory, are being elucidated by neuroimaging and neurostimulation technologies, as well as by examining the effects of aging and affective processing on memory functioning. My current research using functionally-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) paired with simultaneous electroencephalography (EEG) to reactivate latent memories is revealing the role of “activity-silent” short- and long-term retention mechanisms in memory consolidation. Recent work is using repetitive TMS with EEG to modulate the emotional memory tradeoff effect, whereby negative aspects of episodic memories are preferentially consolidated at the expense of surrounding background information. Ongoing and future work will be introduced to discuss how TMS is being used to reactivate latent working memories in an attempt to enhance subsequent long-term memory in younger and older adults, and modulate the pervasiveness of negatively-valenced memories. Based on the causal manipulation of specific neural circuits, a processing-based approach is advanced to account for the dynamic interactions among the sensory-representational networks, fronto-parietal control networks, and medial temporal lobe networks that underlie the processes that support short-term and long-term memory.

January 18, 2019
Dr. George Bonanno, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Columbia University

PTSD, resilience, and everything in between: Mapping the heterogeneity of responses to potential trauma

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: Loss and other potentially traumatic events (PTEs) are unfortunately common across the life span. Yet, despite their ubiquity, these events are not well understood scientifically. One reason is that reactions to PTEs have been conceptualized primarily in terms of the presence or absence of psychopathology (e.g., PTSD or Complicated Grief). Although useful in some ways, a simply binary approach ultimately fails to capture the rich heterogeneity of responses to PTEs. In this talk, I describe my research over the past 25 years that maps heterogeneous patterns or trajectories of adjustment following a range of events, including bereavement, terrorist disaster, military combat, spinal cord injury, bio-epidemic, and cancer surgery. My research has consistently identified a small set of prototypical trajectories. The most common pattern is almost always a trajectory of stable healthy adjustment or resilience. Other prototypical but less common trajectories include chronic reactivity, delayed responding, and improvement. I also describe our research on predictors of the resilience trajectory and devote particular attention to our research on various components of flexibility in coping and emotion regulation, as well as other resilience-promoting factors.

January 16, 2019
Dr. Kendra Seaman, Postdoctoral Fellow, Duke University

Value and Preferences across the Adult Life Span

Location: Keck Hall 100
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: Recent societal trends have raised concerns about the decision-making abilities of older adults in a variety of domains, including finance and health care. My research has suggested that the affective and cognitive neural mechanisms supporting choice are preserved across adulthood. However, despite this preservation, there remain contexts in which the decisions of older adults differ systematically from those of younger adults. Understanding these age differences in decision-making may help identify ways to optimize health and well-being across adulthood.

January 14, 2019
Dr. Stephanie Leal, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley

Making Lasting Memories: the Neural Basis of Remembering Significant Experiences

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: Important events in our lives, whether good or bad, “leave a scar upon the cerebral tissue”, as William James stated (James, 1890). While emotional experiences feel better remembered, not all aspects of an emotional experience are well retained. Tradeoffs exist in remembering gist and detail information of emotional experiences, where gist information may be more beneficial to hold onto rather than focusing on minute details. A critical component of episodic memory is the ability to overcome interference from overlapping or similar experiences such that they can be stored independently. Understanding the dynamics of how significant memories are stored is crucial to uncovering how our memory system works, how this system may be altered in states of cognitive impairment, and how we might be able to target specific aspects of memory processing to either enhance or impair memory for certain experiences. Using a combination of sensitive cognitive measures, high-resolution functional imaging techniques, and translational applications of these approaches to populations with cognitive impairment (depression, aging, and preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (AD)), we investigated amygdala-hippocampal dynamics during performance of an emotional mnemonic discrimination task that is thought to tax hippocampal pattern separation of emotional information. We found unique cognitive and neurobiological profiles in healthy adults as well as in states of aging and depression. We also examined the impact of AD pathology (amyloid and tau) on hippocampal function and age-related memory decline in cognitively normal aging to further our understanding of normal versus pathological aging.


FALL 2018

December 3, 2018
Dr. Jan Wessel, Assistant Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences/Neurology, University of Iowa

How SURPRISE Affects Behavior and Cognition

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adjust ongoing behavior and cognitive processes in the face of rapidly changing situational demands. It is achieved via the deployment of control processes in situations in which the intended outcomes of goal-directed behaviors are in peril. Such situations can be caused by unexpected perceptual events, unexpected action outcomes, action errors, and many other situations in which cognitive control is needed. In this talk, I will outline a broad, general theory of cognitive flexibility that revolves around the psychological construct of surprise (a universal mental computation signaling the need for control) and a neural mechanism for inhibitory control (a specific mechanism that is triggered during surprise). As such, I will propose that surprising events lead to the deployment of inhibitory control as part of an adaptive cascade of processes, which serves to interrupt ongoing motor and cognitive representations. This allows the cognitive system to rapidly reassess the appropriateness of current representations in light of the changed situational demands. I will present data from our recent experiments using healthy and abnormal human populations, and will offer converging, multi-modal evidence for this theory from scalp- and intracranial electrophysiology, brain stimulation, and behavioral experimentation. Finally, I will present some evidence couching this theory into an even wider framework of controlled processing under uncertainty.

November 16, 2018
Dr. Annie Ginty, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Baylor University

Behavioral Neurobiology of Stress and Health

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract:

Background: Large magnitude cardiovascular and cortisol responses to acute psychological stress confer risk for cardiovascular disease. Previously, it was thought that blunted cardiovascular and cortisol responses to acute psychological stress may be adaptive and/or benign. However, recent research suggests that blunted cardiovascular and cortisol reactions to stress are associated with adverse behavioral and health outcomes.

Methods: The relationship between cardiovascular and cortisol stress reactivity and multiple health and behavioral outcomes (e.g., cognitive decline, perseverance, depression, disordered eating, impulsivity) were assessed in a series of laboratory and epidemiological studies. Additionally, the relationship between magnitude of cardiovascular reactivity and stressor-evoked neural activity was examined using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Results: Blunted reactivity was associated with lower cognitive function and more rapid cognitive decline. Individuals with depression and disordered eating displayed blunted cardiovascular and cortisol reactivity to stress. Blunted cardiovascular reactions to acute psychological stress were associated with higher levels of impulsivity and lower levels of perseverance. Neuroimaging studies demonstrated that individuals with blunted reactivity have less activation in the anterior cingulate cortex during stress.

Conclusions: Blunted cardiovascular reactions to stress are associated with multiple adverse behavioral and health outcomes. The outcomes are similar to those defined in Reward Deficiency Syndrome. It is possible that some individuals have a blunted response to aspects of life (e.g., stress and reward) that require motivated processing and behavioral responses.

October 26, 2018
Dr. Judy Edworthy, Professor of Applied Psychology, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom

Taking the “beep” out of clinical audible alarms: developing alarms fit for today’s technology

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: A well-known phenomenon exists in clinical care known as “alarm fatigue.” Alarm fatigue is a general term used to encapsulate the way in which clinical alarms overwhelm the clinician, the patient, and the patient’s family, leaving them stressed and confused. While much of the phenomenon is related to the high false alarm rates typically observed in these environments, a part of the problem is related to the types of sounds, which are used to signal the various clinical and other situations giving arise to those alarms. Clinical audible alarms are typically difficult to learn and remember, sometimes difficult to localize and often very confusable with one another. All of these observed phenomena can be explained with reference to the underpinning cognitive and psychoacoustic processes involved. On the flip side, we can use this same knowledge to improve many basic features of clinical audible alarms so that they are demonstrably superior on a range of important psychological and psychoacoustic criteria. The transformation from old-style to new-style clinical alarms is captured in a recent project which seeks to update the audible alarms denoted in an existing global medical device standard (IEC 60601-1-8), known to be suboptimal, with new alarms with demonstrably superior characteristics due to be released in late 2019. This talk describes the development, testing, and charting of the benefits of these new alarm sounds.

October 11, 2018
Dr. Michael Scullin, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Baylor University

Sleep, Cognition, and Aging

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 4:00PM – 5:30PM

Abstract: This talk will cover the mechanisms by which normal sleep and sleep deprivation affect memory, cognition, and mood. The research presented aims to 1) translate basic sleep science into positive outcomes for STEM learning, and 2) connect age-related changes in sleep physiology to age-related cognitive decline and clinical dementia (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease). The talk will conclude with common interventions for improving sleep across the lifespan, with a focus on novel interventions we are developing on writing to-do lists at bedtime and incentivizing better sleep habits.


FALL 2017

December 5, 2017
Dr. Natalie Ebner, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Florida

A Multi-Methods Approach to Social-Cognitive and Affective Aging

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: Current aging research mostly focuses on physical and cognitive functions and certain psychopathology common in the elderly. Largely ignored is negative age-related change in social-cognitive and affective capacities that can result in risk of social isolation, adversely affecting health and independence. Adopting highly innovative pharmacological, neurofeedback training, and applied interventional approaches, my research specifically targets this understudied field with the aim to determine factors that contribute to, and neurobiology that underlies, successful social-cognitive and affective aging. My talk will outline my ongoing and future research program revolving around the following research questions using a multi-methods approach that integrates introspective, cognitive-behavioral, and neurobiological data: [1] What are the cognitive mechanisms underlying processing biases for social and emotional information in aging? I will present evidence that the own-age bias in recognition memory for neutral faces extends to attentional processes and to emotional faces and will present brain correlates of this effect in young and older adults. [2] Is the neuropeptide oxytocin associated with improved social and emotional functioning in aging? I will summarize evidence from this novel line of investigation in support of my hypothesis that intranasal oxytocin intervention particularly benefits older men, given their increased deficits in social and emotional functioning. [3] Can neurofeedback training promote social and emotional functioning in aging? I will present feasibility data showing successful application of novel neurofeedback training using real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging towards improvement of emotion perception and emotion-regulatory capacities in aging. [4] Can older adults’ decision making capabilities be improved to avoid cyber-attacks? This line of work identifies adult age differences in affective and social influences on decision making in the applied context of computer security. I will present data supporting my central hypothesis that older compared to young adults in their everyday internet use are particularly susceptible to cyberattacks, combined with low susceptibility awareness. I hope to spur a constructive discussion about key discoveries and future research directions in social-cognitive and affective aging towards development of viable treatments for improvement of social-cognitive and affective functions in the elderly.

December 4, 2017
Dr. Thomas Sprague, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, New York University

Dissecting the neural architecture of visual cognition by quantifying stimulus representations

Location: BRC 280
Time: 2:00PM – 3:30PM

Abstract: In everyday life, the visual environment is often far more complicated than can be faithfully represented by the brain. Decades of behavioral research has demonstrated that humans can flexibly prioritize different features of the world depending on their current goals. How does the quality of neural representations reflect this flexible prioritization, and in turn limit cognitive performance? Such representations must exist across populations of neurons spanning entire brain regions, which require large-scale measurements of brain activity. In my research, I take advantage of the coherent retinotopic organization of visual brain regions, which is commensurate with the resolution of state-of-the-art neuroimaging methods, by developing and applying multivariate model-based image reconstruction techniques. These techniques, broadly termed ‘inverted encoding models’, are built to identify neural representations encoded across entire populations, providing a unique window into human cognition. By visualizing and quantifying neural representations across multiple brain regions, I have tested key predictions of priority map theory, which posits that the relative importance of different scene elements is marked by the activity landscape over topographic ‘priority maps’. Across several studies, I show that the profiles of priority maps across retinotopic regions of occipital, parietal, and frontal cortex are modulated by the attentional demands placed on observers, and that they can be used to maintain information in visual working memory. Moreover, by relating changes in measured neural priority maps across task conditions to changes in behavioral performance, I demonstrate a critical role for these neural representations in supporting spatial cognition.

November 27, 2017
Dr. Aron K. Barbey, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Scientific Innovations for Healthy Brain Aging

Location: BRC 280
Time: 4:00PM – 5:30PM

Abstract: An enduring aim of research in the psychological and brain sciences is to understand the nature of individual differences in general intelligence, examining the stunning breadth and diversity of intellectual abilities and the remarkable neurobiological mechanisms from which they arise. Rather than engaging a single brain structure or operating at a fixed level of performance throughout adulthood, emerging evidence indicates that intelligence is mediated by a distributed neural system whose functions can be significantly enhanced by specific types of intervention. Early discoveries in the neurosciences revealed that experience can modify brain structure long after brain development is complete, but we are only now beginning to establish methods to enhance the function of specific brain systems and to optimize core facets of intellectual ability. In this presentation, I survey recent advances in the scientific effort to enhance learning and decision making through cognitive neuroscience-directed interventions, evaluating the efficacy of experimental protocols that assess specific types of cognitive activity, non-invasive brain stimulation, physical fitness training, and nutritional intervention. I highlight the strengths and promise of multi-modal approaches that view the human mind through a multi-faceted lens, incorporating cognitive neuroscience, physical fitness, and nutritional interventions that deliver powerful synergistic effects. I show how the scientific effort to improve the mind is fundamentally changing our understanding of human intelligence – supporting new perspectives about its dynamic and adaptive nature and motivating new methods to promote healthy brain aging through the design of comprehensive and tailored protocols of intellectual stimulation, social engagement, physical exercise, and nutritional intervention.

October 27, 2017
Dr. Suparna Rajaram, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University

Social Transmission of Information and Emergence of collective memory: A Cognitive Perspective

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: Shared stories are the glue of our social lives. As social animals, people spend a big part of their lives sharing and remembering experiences with others. Couples, friends, families, study groups, work teams, and even members within communities and societies develop shared memories of the past, to fulfill a variety of personal, cultural, educational, and political goals. These collective memories have long been topics of interest in the domains of history, anthropology, sociology, and social psychology. There has been also an interest in social transmission of memory in cognitive psychology, tracing back to Bartlett's seminal treatise in 1932. However, over a century of experimental research on memory has almost exclusively focused on individuals working in isolation. The last decade marks a departure, with growing focus on an experimental study of how people remember in groups and how social sharing shapes memories of each conversational partner. I will discuss data and theory from my lab on the cognitive mechanisms that shape how people remember - or forget - the same information, and the influence of the structure of the social network on memory propagation. Together, these experimental tools help unveil how collective memories emerge.

October 25, 2017
Q. Chelsea Song, Ph.D. Candidate in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Diversity Shrinkage: Cross-Validating Pareto-Optimal Weights to Enhance Diversity via Hiring Practices

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 4:00PM – 5:30PM

Abstract: To reduce adverse impact potential and improve diversity outcomes from personnel selection, one promising technique is De Corte, Lievens, and Sackett’s (2007) Pareto-optimal weighting strategy. De Corte et al.’s strategy has been demonstrated on (a) a composite of cognitive and noncognitive (e.g., personality) tests (De Corte, Lievens, & Sackett, 2008) and (b) a composite of specific cognitive ability subtests (Wee, Newman, & Joseph, 2014). Both studies illustrated how Pareto-optimal weighting (in contrast to unit weighting) could lead to substantial improvement in diversity outcomes (i.e., diversity improvement), sometimes more than doubling the number of job offers for minority applicants. The current work addresses a key limitation of the technique—the possibility of shrinkage, especially diversity shrinkage, in the Pareto-optimal solutions. Using Monte Carlo simulations, sample size and predictor combinations were varied and cross-validated Pareto-optimal solutions were obtained. Although diversity shrinkage was sizable for a composite of cognitive and noncognitive predictors when sample size was at or below 500, diversity shrinkage was typically negligible for a composite of specific cognitive subtest predictors when sample size was at least 100. Diversity shrinkage was larger when the Pareto-optimal solution suggested substantial diversity improvement. When sample size was at least 100, cross-validated Pareto-optimal weights typically outperformed unit weights—suggesting that diversity improvement is often possible, despite diversity shrinkage. Implications for Pareto-optimal weighting, adverse impact, sample size of validation studies, and optimizing the diversity-job performance tradeoff are discussed.

October 20, 2017
Curtiss Chapman, Ph.D. Candidate in Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, Rice University – 2017 Laughery Award Winner

Rethinking the behavioral patterns that dissociate semantic dementia and comprehension-impaired stroke aphasia

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: For some time, researchers have claimed that there are separate brain regions for storing semantic knowledge and for providing access to and manipulation of that knowledge. The primary support for this theory has been qualitative differences on semantic tasks between individuals with two different types of neurological disorders: semantic dementia (SD), claimed to have a loss of semantic knowledge, and comprehension-impaired stroke with aphasia (or semantic aphasia, SA), claimed to have an access deficit, linked to executive function disruption (Jefferies and Lambon Ralph, 2006). Our study failed to replicate several previously reported distinctions between these groups’ semantic performance (i.e., differences on frequency effects, item and task consistency effects). In addition, while we found that some aspects of executive function related to semantic performance for SA patients, others did not, and moreover, some SA patients with semantic deficits performed within normal range on EF tasks. Preliminary results from SD patients indicate that some of them have EF deficits as well, contrary to prior claims, but further SD patients need to be tested to relate these deficits to their semantic performance. While our findings do not rule out the separation between semantic knowledge and access processes, they indicate that basing the distinction on syndrome differences is unwarranted. It is possible that other methods (e.g., fMRI or selection of patients on lesion localization) could provide a more fruitful path for examining the separation between semantic knowledge and access.

October 17, 2017
Danielle King, Ph.D. Candidate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Michigan State University

Employee Resilience: Past, Present, and Future

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 4:00PM – 5:30PM

Abstract: Employee resilience has gained popularity in organizational science over recent years. Previous work has demonstrated that resilience - continued goal pursuit despite adversity - is needed by almost all individuals at some point and is potentially beneficial across most job types (e.g., Kossek & Perrigino, 2016). Thus, improved understanding of its conceptualization, measurement, and placement in the nomological network offers potential advantages to many. After discussing my applied experiences and research path in this domain, a specific study concerning resilience narratives and selection will also be shared. Based on Attribution Theory, this project used two studies to test whether and why elements of the resilience narratives that job applicants share impact selection outcomes. Past limitations and findings as well as future ideas and plans will be discussed.

October 5, 2017
Abdifatah Ali, Ph.D. Candidate in Organizational Psychology, Michigan State University

Needs Fulfillment and Core Affect as Antecedents to Person-Organization Fit: A Dynamic Approach

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 4:00PM – 5:30PM

Abstract: Candidate’s person-organization (PO) fit perceptions are invaluable to organizations because they lead to positive organizational attraction and job acceptance decisions. Yet, the recruitment literature provides a narrow perspective on the factors that contribute to the development of PO fit. Extending recent theorizing on the dynamics of PO fit, I propose and test a multilevel model that seeks to elaborate on the factors that govern candidates’ PO fit perceptions during the recruitment process. At the within-person, I draw on insights from self-determination theory and core affect to propose that job candidate’s hedonic experiences and needs fulfillment function as proximal determinants of PO fit. At the between-person, I propose that job candidate’s motivational orientation towards the recruitment process—i.e., a promotion focus versus a prevention focus—operates as a cross-level moderator shaping the effects of core affect on PO fit. Using a longitudinal sample of new labor market entrants and adult job seekers (n = 70), the data showed that at the within-person level, higher levels of anticipated needs fulfillment positively related to both activated (e.g., excitement) and deactivated (e.g., contentment) positive affect and negatively related to both activated (e.g., frustration) and deactivated (e.g., sadness) negative affect. Findings also showed that activated positive affect was positively related to PO fit, whereas activated negative affect was negatively related to PO fit. Finally, the results did not support the cross-level moderation. These findings are discussed in terms of their theoretical implications for understanding the determinants of PO fit, and practical implications as to how the recruitment process can be managed in order to lead to positive recruitment outcomes.

September 29, 2017
Dr. Nichelle Carpenter, Assistant Professor, Department of Management, Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina

Convergence between Subjective and Objective Measures of Performance: Revisiting (Un)Answered Questions

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: Although subjective (i.e., judgmental) and objective (i.e., non-judgmental) measures are both commonly used to assess employees’ performance in organizations, the existing construct validation practices are limited. I will present research that aims to clarify the understanding of subjective and objective measures of performance. First, we meta-analyzed the correlation between subjective and objective measures of performance, expanding this examination to include supervisor-, peer-, and self-ratings. Our moderator tests also highlighted that convergence was likely to be strongest when subjective and objective measures both reflected task performance, and when both measures represented the construct at the same breadth. Second, relative importance analyses demonstrated that each measurement source contained unique information that explained incremental variance in other sources. Finally, despite the finding that subjective and objective measures contain unique information, and the common understanding that both sets of measures are susceptible to biases and errors, meta-analytic SEM revealed that all four measurement sources (objective, self-, supervisor, and peer-ratings) represent the same task performance construct.

September 8, 2017
Dr. Lynn Hasher, Professor of Psychology & Senior Scientist, The Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Centre, University of Toronto

Cognitive Functioning and the Regulation of Attention

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:00PM – 4:30PM

Abstract: Attention regulation plays a critical role in performance on a wide range of cognitive tasks from implicit learning to creativity. When attention regulation is efficient, as it frequently is for healthy young adults, it permits rapid learning of goal relevant information and rapid and accurate retrieval of goal relevant information. When attention regulation is not efficient, as it frequently is for older adults, performance patterns are quite different from those of young adults and, critical to this talk, non-goal relevant information (i.e., distraction) will play a larger role than is otherwise the case. In fact, distraction is a double edged sword in the mental lives of older adults: It can be disruptive, slowing responses, increasing errors, reducing retrieval. Distraction can also be facilitative, resulting in greater learning of information (including both relevant targets and irrelevant distraction), greater binding of information, and, perhaps most surprisingly, greater retrieval. We presume that the underlying mechanism that determines these patterns is inhibition and our work and that of others has shown that inhibition is reduced in older adults and is reduced for everyone functioning at their off peak time of day.


Summer 2017

July 13, 2017
Dr. Jeremy M. Wolfe, Professor of Ophthalmology & Radiology, Harvard Medical School Visual Attention Lab, Department of Surgery, Brigham & Women's Hospital
The Incidental Gorilla: What can the science of visual attention tell us about the art of radiology?

Location: Bioscience Research Collaborative 280
Time: 3:30PM - 5:00PM

Abstract: We cannot simultaneously recognize every object in our field of view. As a result, we deploy attention from object to object or place to place, searching for what we need. This is true whether we are looking for the cat in the bedroom or nodules in a lung CT. We do not search at random. Our attention is guided by the features of the targets we seek and the structure of the scenes in which those targets are embedded. Again, this is true whether that scene is a bedroom or a lung. Unfortunately, our search engine does not work perfectly and we sometimes fail to find what we seek. When those missed targets are such things as tumors or bombs, these errors are socially significant, worth understanding and, if possible, correcting. In this talk, I will illustrate some of the basic principles of human visual attention and I will present data showing how those principles play out in the realm of medical image perception.

Spring 2017

May 5, 2017
Dr. Simine Vazire, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California at Davis

Making Psychological Science More Replicable

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: A fundamental part of the scientific enterprise is for each field to engage in critical self-examination to detect errors in our theories and methods, and improve them. Psychology has recently been undergoing such a self-examination. Psychological scientists arguably tackle one of the hardest phenomena to understand and predict: human behavior. Naturally, our data are noisy and our findings are often tentative. However, we are slowly building knowledge and making our theories more complete. The recent self-analysis has revealed several ways we can further improve our research practices to make our findings more sound, including: collecting larger datasets (more participants, more kinds of measures, more observations), being more transparent about our research process and results, and conducting more replications. These new norms are gaining steam within psychology and beyond, making science stronger.

April 21, 2017
Dr. Jenessa Shapiro, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California-Los Angeles

A Multi-Threat Approach to Stereotype Threat Intervention

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: Stereotype threat is often treated as a single threat, encompassing many different definitions and experiences. In the present talk I argue that conceptualizing stereotype threat as this broad umbrella concept overlooks important distinctions. I will discuss a model of multiple, qualitatively distinct forms of stereotype threats and I will present research showing that these different forms of stereotype threats require different interventions to overcome.

April 21, 2017
Dr. Noah Goldstein, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California-Los Angeles

Using Social Norms to Elicit Prosocial Behavior

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: For better or worse, social norms exert a powerful effect on people’s behaviors. I will discuss how social norms can be harnessed to induce prosocial behavior in others, focusing primarily on pro-environmental behaviors. I will present both lab studies and field experiments, with a particular emphasis on the latter.

April 14, 2017
Dr. Charan Ranganath, Professor, Department of Psychology and Center for Neuroscience, University of California at Davis

Time, Context, and Memory

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: Our memories for the past are linked to specific times, places, and situations. Our research has focused on understanding the neural mechanisms and cognitive processes that enable our remarkable ability to remember the past. I will present new findings that one brain region--the hippocampus--plays a very specific role in episodic memory by organizing representations according to their temporal and spatial context. The organizational scheme of the hippocampus can be contrasted with networks in the neocortex that organize memories according to content, rather than context. In particular, I will argue that: (1) an Anterior Temporal network represents information about who or what was encountered in the past, and (2) a Posterior Medial network represents Event Schemas that are used to reconstruct past experiences, comprehend current experiences, and predict future experiences. I will conclude by summarizing how this framework reveals insights into memory disorders and interventions that can be used to enhance memory.

April 7, 2017
Kamalika Ghosh, winner of the 2016 Laughery Award for Best Master’s Thesis in Psychology at Rice University

Personality Traits, Prosocial Knowledge, Charismatic Leadership Behavior, and Clinical Performance of Indian Medical Students

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 3:30PM – 5:00PM

Abstract: This study replicates and extends findings reported by Ghosh, Motowidlo, and Nath (2015) that Indian medical students’ prosocial knowledge is positively correlated with their clinical performance. It examines the antecedents of medical students’ charismatic leadership behavior and its contribution to their clinical performance. This study also investigates whether the strongest personality determinant of prosocial knowledge and charismatic leadership behavior is different in a high power distance culture (conscientiousness) than in a low power distance culture (agreeableness). In a sample of 343 Indian medical students, students’ prosocial knowledge positively correlated (.21, p <.01) with their clinical performance. Although Indian medical students’ (N = 96 – 109) charismatic leadership behavior failed to show significant association with their clinical performance (.14, NS) and prosocial knowledge (.18, NS), it positively correlates with agreeableness (.43, p <.01), and conscientiousness (.40, p <.01). Contrary to expectations, conscientiousness failed to show stronger association with knowledge and leadership constructs, than agreeableness in India’s high power distance culture which demonstrates agreeableness’ role as a global predictor of prosocial knowledge. Practical and theoretical contributions of this study are discussed with recommendations for future research.

***NO COLLOQUIA TOOK PLACE DURING THE FALL 2016 SEMESTER***

Spring 2016

April 26, 2016
Carmen Young, winner of the 2015 Laughery Award for Best Master’s Thesis in Psychology at Rice University

Putting Theory Into Practice: Using Cognitive Theories to Inform Training Instruction

Location: Sewall Hall 303
Time: 1:45PM – 3:00PM

Abstract: General cognitive ability has repeatedly been shown to affect performance (Hunter, 1986), and various theories detailing the mechanisms through which cognitive ability affects learning performance have been proposed. In a series of two studies, I explore the application of cognitive theories to training contexts. For the first study, two different instruction manipulations are used in computer-based training to examine how cognitively taxing different types of instruction can be. A second study follow-up reviews past empirical literature and examines how cognitive theories can differentially predict older and younger adults' training performance. Results from these studies shed light on how training instruction can be executed in practice to obtain high performance from a general audience of trainees.

March 31, 2016
Dr. Bryan Denny, Post-doctoral fellow, Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, New York

Can training enhance emotion regulation outcomes? Evidence from a translational social cognitive neuroscience perspective in healthy individuals and borderline personality disorder patients

Location: Sewall Hall 307
Time: 1:15PM – 2:45PM

Abstract: Effective emotion regulation is indispensable for mental and physical health. Translational social cognitive neuroscience approaches to examining emotion regulation allow for an investigation of the underlying psychological and neural mechanisms that lead to better or worse emotion regulation outcomes across a spectrum of healthy and affectively-disordered populations, with a goal being the development of novel, effective, empirically-validated emotion regulation interventions. I will present three studies that utilize longitudinal emotion regulation training interventions via cognitive reappraisal. Reappraisal involves reframing an emotional stimulus in a way that changes its emotional impact. Study 1 examined whether healthy adults could improve in their ability to use either of two variants of reappraisal (distancing and reinterpretation) to down-regulate self-reported negative emotion over the course of four experimental sessions over two weeks using an image-based reappraisal task and additional outcome measurements of perceived stress in daily life. In Study 2, the long-lasting effects of reappraisal training on the neural correlates of reappraisal success in healthy adults were investigated using fMRI (i.e. continued attenuation of amygdala activity during passive viewing of previously-regulated negative stimuli one week after active regulation). In Study 3, reappraisal training was examined in BPD patients using disorder-relevant stimuli and training procedures (i.e. five experimental sessions with approximately daily frequency), with both behavioral and fMRI-based outcome measures. Across all studies, evidence for the effectiveness of reappraisal training was obtained, particularly when using psychological distancing. Future directions will be discussed, including how formulating increasingly personalized and efficacious emotion regulation interventions will require understanding which strategies and interventions are most appropriate for which individuals (varying along core affective and cognitive dimensions) in given situations.

February 12, 2016
Dr. Lisa Geraci, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University
The Relationship Between Self-Perception and Cognition in Older Adults

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 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.

Spring 2015

April 17, 2015
Debshila Basu Mallick, Rice University Graduate Student and winner of the 2014 Laughery Award for Best Master's Thesis

An 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 Universit

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

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30 p.m.

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.

Fall 2014

September 5, 2014

Dr. Richard Lucas, Professor, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University
The Importance of Life Circumstances for Subjective Well-Being

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30 p.m.

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.

Spring 2014

April 18, 2014

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 Minnesota
The contributions of hard and soft skills to social achievement: A behavioral genetic perspective

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.

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

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.

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.

Fall 2013

October 21, 2013

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.

Spring 2013

*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

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.

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

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.

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.

Spring 2012

April 20, 2012

Dr. Pat DeLucia, Department of Psychology, Texas Tech University
Perceptual and Cognitive Factors in Minimally-Invasive Surgery

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.

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

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.

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.

Fall 2011

October 14, 2011

Dr. David Dickman, Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine
Navigating home: Neural mechanisms for flight control and magnetoreception in birds

Location: Sewall Hall 301
Time: 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.

Spring 2011

February 11, 2011

Corinne Allen, Psychology Department, Rice University
A role for phonological short-term memory in task switching

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 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.

Fall 2010

November 15, 2010

Dr. Stephen E. Palmer, Psychology Department, University of California, Berkeley
Human Color Preferences: An Ecological Valence Approach

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 3:30-5:00 p.m.

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 Dallas
Neural Hybrid Model of Semantic Memory (ver. 1.1)

Location: Sewall Hall 309
Time: 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 School
See Me, Touch Me, Feel Me: Multisensory Integration in the Human Brain

Location: Sewall Hall 307
Time: 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 Center
Who is prize-d in cognitive and developmental psychology?

Location: Sewall Hall 307
Time: 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.