Tag Archive for Psychology Department

Sanislow Published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

Charles Sanislow

Charles Sanislow

Charles Sanislow, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, is the co-author of an article titled “Interactions of Borderline Personality Disorder and Anxiety Disorders Over 10 Years,” published in the June issue of The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

This report examines the relationship of borderline personality disorders (BPD), as defined by the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition), to anxiety disorders using data on the reciprocal effects of improvement or worsening of BPD and anxiety disorders over the course of 10 years.

Sanislow and his colleagues prospectively assessed borderline patients with DSM-IV–defined co-occurring generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia, panic disorder without agoraphobia, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) annually between 1997 and 2009. They used proportional hazards regression analyses to assess the effects of monthly improvement or worsening of BPD and anxiety disorders on each other’s remission and relapse the following month.

The study suggests that BPD negatively affects the course of general anxiety disorder, social phobia, and PTSD. In contrast, the anxiety disorders, aside from PTSD, had little effect on BPD course. For general anxiety disorder and social phobia, whose course BPD unidirectionally influences, the researchers suggest prioritizing treatment for BPD, whereas BPD should be treated concurrently with panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, or PTSD.

 

Loui Receives $200K Grant from Imagination Institute

Psyche Loui is assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Psyche Loui is assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Imagination Institute’s Advancing the Science of Imagination: Toward an “Imagination Quotient” initiative. She will use the grant for the first longitudinal neuroscience study on the development of aesthetic creativity through jazz improvisation.

Loui’s was one of 16 projects to receive funding, out of an initial pool of 251 who expressed interest.

Sanislow Co-authors Paper on Personality Disorders, Suicide Risk

Chuck Sanislow

Chuck Sanislow

Charles Sanislow, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, is the co-author of a new paper published in the journal Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and TreatmentThe paper is titled “Personality Disorder Risk Factors for Suicide Attempts over 10 Years of Follow-Up.

The findings in the paper are from the Collaborative Longitudinal Personality Disorders Study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), on which Sanislow has been an investigator since it began in 1996.

Faculty, Students, Alumni Present Research at Society for Research in Child Development Meeting

Jessica Taggart, former lab coordinator, presenting work done with Jillian Roberts '15, current lab coordinator Lonnie Bass, and Associate Professor of Psychology Hilary Barth, titled, "Minimal group membership and children's ideas of equality." This project is Robert's thesis.

Jessica Taggart, former lab coordinator, presenting work done with Jillian Roberts ’15, current lab coordinator Lonnie Bass, and Associate Professor of Psychology Hilary Barth, titled, “Minimal group membership and children’s ideas of equality.” This project is Robert’s thesis.

Wesleyan was strongly represented by faculty, undergraduates and alumni at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, the major conference in the field. The meeting was held in Philadelphia, Pa. March 19-21.

Members of the Cognitive Development Labs, co-directed by Associate Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman and Associate Professor of Psychology Hilary Barth, presented research at the conference. Former lab coordinator Jessica Taggart presented work done with Jillian Roberts ’15, current lab coordinator Lonnie Bass, and Barth titled, “Minimal group membership and children’s ideas of equality.” This is Roberts’ senior thesis project.

Andrew Ribner ’14 presented his senior thesis, “Preschool indicators of primary school math ability” with Shusterman and former postdoc Emily Slusser. And Barth presented “A non-Bayesian explanation of adults’ and children’s biased spatial estimates” with Ellen Lesser ’15, Sheri Reichelson ’16, Anna Schwab ’16, Taggart, Slusser and Bass.

In addition, numerous presentations were made at the conference by alumni who did undergraduate work in Wesleyan’s Cognitive Development Labs. They included: Christian Hoyos ’11, Julia Leonard ’11, Jessica Sullivan ’08, Ariel Starr ’07, Nick DeWind ’06, Joanna Schiffman ’11,  Margaret Gullick ’07, Elise Herrig ’10, Kyle MacDonald ’10, Dominic Gibson ’10 and Samantha Melvin ’13. Former Shusterman lab coordinator Talia Berkowitz and former postdoc Mariah Schug also presented work at the conference. Learn more about all these presentations, and what these individuals are doing now, in this post on the Cognitive Development Labs blog.

Shusterman, Feld ’11 Article Published on Student Stress in College Prep High Schools

A paper co-authored by Lauren Feld ’11 and Associate Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman was recently published in the Journal of Adolescence. Titled, “Into the Pressure Cooker: Student Stress in College Preparatory High Schools,” the paper was Feld’s senior thesis at Wesleyan.

The article will appear in Volume 41, June 2015 of the journal. It can be read online here.

In the study, Feld and Shusterman assess stress and related behaviors in high-achieving high school students. Specifically, they explored symptoms, sleep and eating, attitudes and coping behaviors related to stress. They found that students reported high rates of physical and psychological correlates of stress, as well as unhealthy behaviors in response to stress. Feld and Shusterman write that these findings indicate areas of vulnerability in high-achieving student populations.

Feld is now completing medical school at Mount Sinai, and just matched for a residency in internal medicine at the University of Chicago.

 

Robinson Studies Individual Differences in Reactions to Junk Food

Mike Robinson studies how individuals react differently when presented with a junk food diet.

Mike Robinson, standing, studies how individuals react differently when presented with a junk food diet. Pictured in the foreground is Sarah Mi ’16. (Photos by Olivia Drake MALS ’08)

Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, and his students are interested in what makes individuals react differently when they catch a whiff of freshly-baked brownies or another sugary treat.

Mike Robinson and Rebecca Tom '16 remove the junk food concoction from the food processor.

Mike Robinson and Rebecca Tom ’16 remove the junk food concoction from the food processor.

These Pavlovian cues associated with junk food can trigger cravings to eat and increase the amount of food consumed. People who are more susceptible to the motivational effects of these cues may have a higher risk for over consuming readily available junk food and becoming obese. Furthermore, the overconsumption of junk food may itself heighten attraction to food cues. But what causes some people to be more susceptible than others?

Robinson, together with colleagues at the University of Michigan, explores these issues in an article titled “Individual Differences in Cue-Induced Motivation and Striatal Systems in Rats Susceptible to Diet-Induced Obesity,” published in the March 12 edition of Neuropsychopharmacology. Read the abstract here.

The researchers introduced a junk food diet (a mash of potato chips, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter, and chocolate milk powder) to rats to study whether there were pre-existing and/or diet-induced increases in attraction to cues for junk food, and motivation to seek out the food. They found that prior to gaining weight, the rats that would go on to become obese with the junk food diet showed a greater attraction to food cues. After being exposed to the junk food diet and gaining excessive amounts of weight, those rats began treating food cues as a reward in of themselves, and were more willing to work to obtain them.

Sanislow, Sypher ’13 Published in Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology

A chapter titled “Research Domain Criteria (RDoC)” by Charles Sanislow, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, was published in the Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology in January.

Kevin Quinn of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Isaiah Sypher ’13 co-authored the chapter.

Sypher worked in Sanislow’s lab at Wesleyan and then went on to a research position at the NIMH Intramural Program in Affective Neuroscience. He is currently in the process of applying to clinical science programs in psychology.

Sanislow and Quinn are both charter members of the NIMH Working Group for the RDoC, a project that is developing a new diagnostic approach based on internal mechanisms to guide research on mental disorders.

Robinson Pinpoints Addiction Center in Brain

Mike Robinson recently published an article in the Journal of Neuroscience about the center of the brain that triggers addiction.

Mike Robinson recently published an article in the Journal of Neuroscience about the center of the brain that triggers addiction.

Having trouble resisting another glass of wine or a decadent slice of chocolate cake? In a new study, Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, pinpoints the part of the brain that triggers addiction. It’s in the brain’s amygdala, an almond-shaped mass that processes emotions, reports the news site Medical Xpress.

These findings were published Dec. 10 in the Journal of Neuroscience (read the full story here). Robinson is the lead author, and co-wrote the paper with two colleagues from the University of Michigan.

The study was done using a technique called optogenetics with rats. Whenever the rats pressed a lever to earn a sugary treat, a laser light painlessly activated the amygdala in their brains for a few seconds, making neurons in it fire more excitedly. When the rats pressed a separate lever to earn a treat, their amygdala was not activated. When the rats were then faced with a choice over which lever to press, they focused exclusively on getting the reward that previously excited their amygdala and ignored the other. They were also willing to work much harder to earn the first reward.

Robinson told Medical XPress that the results suggest a role for the amygdala in generating focused and almost exclusive desire as seen in addiction.

“Understanding the pathways involved in addictive-like behavior could provide new therapeutic avenues for treating addiction and other compulsive disorders,” he said.

QAC Hosts Final Exam Evaluation, Poster Session

More than 100 students presented their quantitative analysis research Dec. 5 in Beckham Hall. 

More than 100 students presented their quantitative analysis research Dec. 5 in Beckham Hall.

On Dec. 5, the Quantitative Analysis Center (QAC) hosted its annual student research final exam evaluation event for its QAC 201 course. More than 100 students presented their projects at a poster session to fellow students, faculty, alumni and friends of Wesleyan.

Plous’s MOOC Student Honored by Jane Goodall for Compassionate Act

Professor of Psychology Scott Plous and anthropologist Jane Goodall presented Qian Zhang of China with a Day of Compassion Award from the Jane Goodall Institute. Zhang was a student in Plous's Social Psychology MOOC last summer and received the honor for intervening when she heard a boy being beaten in a neighboring apartment. 

On Dec. 6, Professor of Psychology Scott Plous and anthropologist/ primatologist Jane Goodall presented Qian Zhang of China with a Day of Compassion Award. Zhang was a student in Plous’s Social Psychology MOOC last summer and received the honor for intervening when she heard a boy being beaten in a neighboring apartment.

In the summer of 2014, students from more than 200 countries enrolled in Professor of Psychology Scott Plous’s Social Psychology “MOOC” (massive open online course). The class was offered by Wesleyan, hosted by Coursera.org, and drew more than 200,000 students. The final assignment of the course, “The Day of Compassion,” asked students to live 24 hours as compassionately as possible and to analyze the experience using social psychology.

Wilkins Published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

Clara Wilkins, assistant professor of psychology, has studied perceptions of discrimination against whites and other groups who hold positions of relative advantage in society—such as heterosexuals and men—since she was a graduate student at the University of Washington. She became became interested in the topic of perceptions of bias against high status groups after hearing Glenn Beck call president Barack Obama racist. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Clara Wilkins

Assistant Professor of Psychology Clara Wilkins is the co-author of a paper titled “You Can Win But I Can’t Lose: Bias Against High-Status Groups Increases Their Zero-Sum Beliefs About Discrimination” published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, November 2014. The article will be published again in the in the journal’s March 2015 print edition. Wilkins co-authored the article with several other researchers including Joseph Wellman, formerly a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Wesleyan, who is now at California State University, San Barnardino, and Katherine Schad BA ’13/MA ’14.

The study considered what causes people to espouse “zero-sum beliefs”—or beliefs that gains for one social group come at a cost to another group—and what the consequences are of those beliefs. The researchers found that “high-status groups” (specifically, whites and men) held zero-sum beliefs more often when they contemplated increasing bias against their own group than when they contemplated decreasing bias against their low-status counterparts (blacks and women). Furthermore, greater endorsement of zero-sum beliefs corresponded with efforts to decrease outgroups’ ability to compete in society and efforts to increase the ingroup’s ability to compete. The researchers also discuss how this pattern may perpetuate social inequality.

Stemler Published in Journal of Study Abroad, Educational Psychology

Steve Stemler, associate professor of psychology, is the co-author of “Development and Validation of the Wesleyan Intercultural Competence Scale (WICS): A Tool for Measuring the Impact of Study Abroad Experiences,” published in Frontiers: the Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, XXIV, 25-47, 2014.

He’s also the co-author of “Testing the theory of successful intelligence through educational interventions in Grade 4 language arts, mathematics and science,” published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(3), 881-899, 2014.