New research into Autism

A just-released study from Harvard had found a link between GABA and autism.  This is the first study that has managed to find a concrete relationship between a neurotransmitter and the disorder.  As I was reading it, my thought was that it might also be part of the explanation as to why individuals with autism often experience significant anxiety as well.  I look forward to the advances that are sure to come in this line of research!  http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2015/12/18/gaba-autism/ 

Students Researchers Present at Eastern Psychological Association Conference

Over spring break 12 students presented their research at the 86th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association in Philadelphia, PA.

BRITTANY WINDUS, HANNAH MCGRATH: DELAY DISCOUNTING AS AN OVERLAPPING COGNITIVE MECHANISM OF DEPRESSION AND OBESITY*

This study tested the extent to which “self-control,” measured using a delay to gratification (DTG) task is co-related to BMI and Depression diagnostic thresholds. Participants completed a DTG task by choosing between one small immediate reward and one successively larger delayed reward with indifference points calculated; BMI, HAMD, and sex were also recorded. Results suggest that reduced cognitive affective self-control for impulsive food choices may be a shared cognitive mechanism for depression and obesity. 
 

ELIZABETH DICKINSON: SELF-CONTROL VARIES BY EATING ATTITUDES, SEX, AND FOOD TYPE AMONG DIVISION I COLLEGIATE ATHLETES*

This study tested how disordered eating attitudes and sex of collegiate athletes are related to “self control” of food choice. 102 athletes completed a delay to gratification (DTG) task by choosing between one small immediate reward and one successively larger delayed reward with indifference points calculated. Results showed that female athletes had greater self-control than male athletes for high-calorie and sweet-tasting foods; for males, those with higher disordered eating attitudes had greater self-control. 

KAYLA CUIFOLO, QUENTIN KING-SHEPARD: EFFECTS OF USING FOODS AND FOOD IMAGES TO ENHANCE POSITIVE MOOD.*

The hypothesis that eating a small portion of food will sustain a positive mood increase after viewing foods/food images was tested. Mood was measured at baseline, 5-min, and 10-min while participants viewed a food or an image of a food. Results showed positive mood change in all groups at 5-min. For groups who viewed an actual food, only when participants were allowed to eat a small portion at 5-min did mood remain positive at 10-min. 


CAITLIN J BROWN: EMOLABELING AS A STRATEGY TO EFFECTIVELY REDUCE THE INFLUENCE OF MISLEADING LABELING ON NUTRITION LABELS*

A counterbalanced within-subjects experimental design was used to test if emolabeling, the use of emoticons to convey health information, will protect consumers against misleading labeling. Grocery store shoppers were shown nutrition labels for a low and high calorie food with/without emolabels, and with/without a misleading label. Results show that emolabels reduced the effectiveness of misleading labels: participants rated the LC food as healthier and the HC food as less healthy when emolabels were added. 

TIMOTHY PARKS, MONICA YALAMANCHILI: EFFECTS OF PRESSURE ON RETRIEVAL PRACTICE: USING LEADERBOARDS TO INDUCE PRESSURE+ 

Retrieval practice is a powerful way to improve memory. However, little is known about the effects of pressure on retrieval practice and long-term retention. In this experiment subjects were placed on a leaderboard after recall to induce pressure during retrieval practice. Their anxiety was measured after retrieval and their long-term retention was measured via a final recall test two days later.

AUDREY JEANNE MOORADIAN, TIMOTHY PARKS: HOW DOES PRESSURE AFFECT RETRIEVAL PRACTICE?+

Repeated testing improves later retention, a phenomenon called the Testing Effect. It is often recommended that teachers test frequently. However, frequent testing in the classroom may lead to increased pressure and anxiety, which have been found tonegatively affect performance. In this experiment we manipulated pressure during repeated testing and examined its effects on final recall. While the pressure conditions performed better on average, the difference was not significant. Pressure did not negatively affect performance.

CHRISTOPHER RUSSO: CAN CLOSENESS ESTABLISHED EXPERIMENTALLY IMPACT FRIENDSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND HOMESICKNESS**

Using Aron, et al. (1997) manipulation of interpersonal closeness, the present research examined the impact of experimentally induced closeness (high vs. low) between two unacquainted college classmates (n = 32) on feelings of closeness and homesickness both immediately following the manipulation and approximately one month later. Participants in the high closeness condition reported feeling significantly closer to their partner immediately following the manipulation. No other significant effects resulted.

MONICA YALAMANCHILI: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ACADEMIC ENTITLEMENT AND FORGIVENESS++

Academic Entitlement (AE) has been found to be moderately correlated with narcissism. Mixed results indicate a generally negative correlation between narcissism and forgiveness. The current study investigated the relationship between AE and forgiveness. Three types of forgiveness were measured: others, situation, and self. Hypotheses predicted negative correlations between AE and forgiveness of others and situation and a positive correlation for forgiveness of self. Results indicate a negative correlation.

CASSANDRA FEARING, BRIELLE CORNELIUS, AMY ROEMER : PROMOTION OF EDIBLE INSECT EATING THROUGH NORM MANIPULATION AND MODELING**

The present study examined the impact of norms (injunctive vs. descriptive) and model (present vs. absent) on college students (n = 52) willingness to try cookie pieces made with insect flour and attitudes toward eating insects. College students in the injunctive norm model present condition ate significantly more cookie pieces than participants in any of the other groups. Students in the injunctive (vs. descriptive) norm condition expressed significantly more positive attitudes toward eating insects.

PAIGE GIAMMUSSO, FARIS ZURAIKAT: ATTITUDES TOWARD CHEATING: THE RELATIONSHIP WITH ACADEMIC ENTITLEMENT++  

Prior research has found relationships between narcissism and academic dishonesty. More recent research supports a moderate relationship between academic entitlement (AE) and narcissism. The current study predicted a relationship between AE and attitudes regarding academic dishonesty. Correlational analyses indicated that higher levels of AE were related to having more ‘permissive’ or positive views of what defines cheating. This finding provides important insight into the relationship between attitudes toward cheating and personality.

GREGORY BYRNE, KATHRYN WINTERBURN: AN INVESTIGATION OF COLLEGE STUDENTS' ATTITUDES TOWARDS TATTOOED MODELS.**

We examined how college students’ (n = 53 ) attitudes regarding a model’s ability to serve as a representative for their university were impacted by the presence of a tattoo. Participants viewed photos of 8 students, which include the target, a female college student, shown either with or without a tattoo, and asked to rate each photo on several dimensions. The target without the tattoo was rated as a significantly more desirable representative of the university.
*Under the direction of Dr. Gregory Privitera 
+Under the direction of Dr. Althea Bauernschmidt
**Under the direction of Dr. Robin Valeri
++Under the direction of Dr. Stephanie Vogel
 

Do Academic Settings Stifle Our Creativity? - Cog Blog by Indu Seeni

          Problem Solving is a skill that applies  to every person, as it is a necessary day-to-day skill. Throughout our lives, we are faced with complex situations that leave us at a standstill. The pipe could burst in the bathroom. We can get in a car accident. We don’t know an answer to a test. In each of these situations, we may not know what to do, as we may have never gotten into that exact crisis or faced that exact problem before. How do we then proceed?

            From a young age, our teachers and parents encourage us not to be discouraged when we are stumped by a novel situation. Rather, we must work through it. But do we know how? Many people complain that academic settings stifle our creativity and ability to problem solve as a result of an unnecessary focus on memorization. Furthermore, people complain that schools should encourage problem-based learning rather than a sheer accumulation of facts. In my opinion, these complaints have some truth, in that schools should be focusing on teaching students how to problem-solve rather than memorize. However, often even when that is the goal of classes, students can misunderstand a course’s intentions.

            School is not just about the academics and making our brains a storage house of information. Many of the classes that I have taken, organic chemistry for example, have no use for me as a person striving to enter a health profession. However, the class is a requirement for all medical schools. Why? Is it simply to make our lives as students miserable? Probably not. Organic chemistry frequently requires a holistic understanding of material. Solving an organic chemistry problem mandates many things.  It requires creativity and that we come into the habit of thinking outside of the box. It requires that we practice and practice in order for our minds to recognize patterns. It requires that we apply bits of information we learned in different contexts to piece together the solution to a novel problem.

            In order to become adept at problem-solving, often we must merely overcome mindsets and one-tracked thinking. As discussed in class, functional fixedness, or looking at objects as only having the use that they were intended to have, is inhibiting. Being an effective problem-solver requires that we have an open-mind. We must be able to think of a variety of potential solutions, rather than zoning in on a singular one. It is only when we evaluate several possibilities that we can ultimately come across the ideal solution. It is rare to discover the best solution immediately, especially when it is the only solution thought of.

            In the academic setting at Bonas, I believe that students are encouraged to take a problem-solving approach to school. At Bonas, students are all required to take CLAR courses, many of which have a philosophical basis. In these classes, we are not only required to learn material, but be able to apply various schools of thoughts to contemporary situations that challenge us. Classes such as these also encourage us to think of situations in the past and see how those issues can still be relevant in modern society, despite the drastic changes that have occurred over the centuries. Learning such as this encourage students to develop a problem-solving skill involving analogous situations. With this skill, individuals are able to solve a problem by comparing it to a different but conceptually similar problem they encountered before. 

            Overall, I believe that academic settings do not necessarily stifle our creativity. Though we are encouraged to learn material, the ultimate goal is train our minds to be adapting and creative. Classes are not meant to make us memorize but develop problem-solving skills. In Orgo, we have to practice problems in order to develop a mindset that can relate a variety of problems we encountered before. In philosophical classes, we must be able to inquire into and analyze a situation thoroughly. Schools should not focus on teaching students solutions to textbook problems, to which there is only one solution; instead, schools should prepare students for the real world, in which we will be faced with novel situations, and utilize our problem-solving skills to find the resolution.