Olivia DrakeJune 7, 20182min
Drug and behavioral addictions like gambling are characterized by an intense and focused pursuit of a single reward above other healthier endeavors. Pursuit of the addictive reward is often compulsively sought despite adverse consequences. In a newly published study, Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience and behavior, and integrative sciences explored how our decisions can become narrowly focused onto one particular choice. He and his research team used laser light (optogenetics) to activate the central portion of the brain's amygdala (CeA), an area normally known for its role in generating responses to drug-related and fearful stimuli. The study, titled "Optogenetic…

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Olivia DrakeFebruary 28, 20184min
For the past 60 years, a massive megafauna mammal thrived in crates buried in Wesleyan's tunnels and attics. This month, the creature, known as a Glyptodon, has emerged in Exley Science Center for public viewing. Although the armored armadillo-like animal became extinct more than 10,000 years ago, Wesleyan acquired a fossil cast in the 1870s, where it became a showpiece at the university's Orange Judd Museum of Natural Sciences. In 1957, the museum closed and thousands of artifacts, including the Glyptodon, were haphazardly stuffed into crates and boxes and hauled to multiple locations throughout campus. "After the museum closed, everything was scattered all…

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Lauren RubensteinFebruary 13, 20181min
Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, assistant professor of integrative sciences, has been named a Cottrell Scholar for 2018 by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA). Hughes is one of two dozen early career academic scientists to receive this honor, which comes with a $100,000 award for research and teaching. “The Cottrell Scholar (CS) program champions the very best early career teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy by providing these significant discretionary awards,” said RCSA President and CEO Daniel Linzer. (more…)

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Lauren RubensteinOctober 13, 20171min
Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, assistant professor of integrative sciences, co-authored a new article published in the December 2017 issue of Brain and Cognition. The paper is titled, "Jazz Musicians Reveal Role of Expectancy in Human Creativity." Loui and her colleagues found that within one second of hearing an unexpected chord, there is a world of differences in brain responses between classical and jazz musicians. (more…)

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Olivia DrakeSeptember 29, 20172min
Wesleyan's Molecular Biophysics Program hosted its 18th annual retreat Sept. 28 at Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown. Wesleyan affiliated speakers included: Colin Smith, assistant professor of chemistry, on "An Atomistic View of Protein Dynamics and Allostery;" Meng-Ju Renee Sher, assistant professor of physics, on "Tracking Electron Motions Using Terahertz Spectroscopy;" Kelly Knee, PhD '07, principle scientist for Pfizer's Rare Disease Research Unit, on "Protein Folding Chaperones: Molecular Machines for Tricky Problems;" and Francis Starr, professor of physics, director of the College of Integrative Sciences, on "DNA Four-Way Junction Dynamics and Thermodynamics: Lessons from Combining Simulations and Experiments." Arthur Palmer, the Robert…

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Lauren RubensteinSeptember 29, 20171min
Writing in The Conversation, Assistant Professor of Psychology Mike Robinson looks to the brain to explain the real reason that some people become addicted to drugs. Robinson, who also is assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, assistant professor of integrative sciences, begins by debunking two popular explanations for drug addiction: that compulsive drug use is simply a "bad habit," and that overcoming the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms is too hard for some addicts. While pleasure, habits and withdrawal can play a role in drug use, Robinson says, the true reason for addiction can be explained by the psychological differences between "wanting" and "liking." (more…)

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Lauren RubensteinSeptember 26, 20172min
Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, assistant professor of integrative sciences, is the author of a new publication on musical anhedonia—the lack of pleasure from music. Together with others in her lab, Loui studied an individual with musical anhedonia and compared his brain against a group of controls. They found that his auditory cortex was differently connected to his reward system, a finding which gives further support for the role of brain connectivity in the musical experience. The article, titled, "White Matter Correlates of Musical Anhedonia: Implications for Evolution of Music," was published Sept.…

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Olivia DrakeSeptember 18, 20171min
Nicholas "Nicky" Antonellis '17, a BA/MA student in physics, is one of 14 students in the U.S. selected to receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Directed Energy Professional Society (DEPS). Candidates for the award must be full-time graduate students who are interested in pursuing or are currently studying the directed energy technology areas of high-energy lasers or high-power microwaves. Antonellis is interested in using his knowledge in photonic device design and computational simulations in order to eventually improve upon medical technologies. (more…)

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Olivia DrakeSeptember 14, 20172min
The availability of sufficient dissolved oxygen in seawater is critical for marine life, and places where oxygen falls below a critical concentration — or "dead zones" — are often associated with mass die-offs of fish, shrimp and other creatures. With future global warming, the oceans are on course to see progressively less dissolved oxygen available. Scientists currently use often not well-tested computer models to predict the expansion of dead zones, but a team of researchers from Wesleyan, University California Riverside and Syracuse University are hoping to use oceanic sediment samples to better predict where die-offs may occur next. Their study,…

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Lauren RubensteinApril 25, 20172min
Amid rising student interest, Wesleyan has announced a new interdisciplinary minor in Integrated Design, Engineering, and Applied Sciences (IDEAS), beginning in 2017-18. It will be hosted within the College of Integrative Sciences (CIS). The IDEAS minor will introduce foundational skills in engineering and design, and bring together existing arts, design, and applied science courses to create a more formal structure to guide students interested in these fields. According to Professor of Physics Francis Starr, a co-proposer of the minor and director of the CIS, “The new minor plays into Wesleyan’s unique capabilities and dovetails with Wesleyan’s commitment to prepare students…

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Lauren RubensteinApril 6, 20174min
New climate research by Dana Royer, professor and chair of earth and environmental sciences, finds that current carbon dioxide levels are unprecedented in human history and, if they continue on this trajectory "the atmosphere could reach a state unseen in 50 million years" by mid-century, according to an article in Salon. The carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere today are ones that likely haven’t been reached in 3 million years. But if human activities keep committing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at current rates, scientists will have to look a lot deeper into the past for a similar period. The…