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Apr 30, 2013
Psychology Careers Outside Academia
Dr Hannah Pazderka
On the road to completing your graduate degree? Wondering about some possible options - outside the traditional professorial route? Recent months have suggested that these jobs, once thought of as relatively 'safe', may no longer offer the kind of security they once did. Dr. Pazderka will review recent research as to the odds of getting a tenure track position, and will draw on her experience outside of academia in clinical, government, and non-profit areas to describe other potential areas for employment. She will discuss possible perks and pitfalls of working in these diverse areas, and describe some general principles to consider when looking for professional employment, in these fields and more generally.
Dr. Pazderka completed her PhD at the University of Alberta in 2004. She is currently a senior consultant with ACCFCR, and the project manager for the PAX/Triple P randomized control trial being implemented in schools across the province over the next 5 years.
Apr 29, 2013
Grammatical gender and thought in bilinguals
Dr. Benedetta Bassetti
Apr 12, 2013
The Role of Hope In Early Psychotherapy Sessions: Using Interpersonal Process Recall for In-session Research
Dr. Denise Larsen
Once considered unresearchable, hope now receives significant research attention as a factor important to client health and psychotherapeutic change. Major psychotherapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy and emotion-focused psychotherapy, claim to foster hope, though none of these approaches specify just how hope is thought to be effectively fostered. During this talk I offer an overview of hope research specific to defining and understanding hope in psychotherapy. Interpersonal Process Recall (IPR), an elaborate qualitative interview method, has been used to elucidate how hope is offered by psychotherapists and experienced by clients during session. I describe our use of IPR and findings from our research about how therapists offer hope and how clients experience hope in-session.
Apr 05, 2013
Cross-cultural N400s during a Foreground Background Episodic Memory Task: N400 Incongruity Effect in an Episodic Memory Task Reveals Different Strategies for Handling Irrelevant Contextual Information for Japanese than European Canadians
East Asians/Asian Americans show a greater N400 effect due to semantic incongruity between foreground objects and background contexts than European Americans (Goto et al., 2010). Using analytic attention instructions, we asked Japanese and European Canadians to judge, and later, remember, target animals that were paired with task-irrelevant original (congruent), or novel (incongruent) contexts. We asked: 1) whether the N400 also shows an episodic incongruity effect, due to retrieved contexts conflicting with later-shown novel contexts, and 2) whether the incongruity effect would be more related to performance for Japanese, who have been shown to have more difficulty ignoring such contextual information. Both groups exhibited an episodic incongruity effect on the N400. However, incongruent-trial accuracy was related to reduction of N400s only for the Japanese. Thus, we found that the N400 can reflect episodic incongruity which poses a greater challenge to Japanese than European Canadians.
Apr 05, 2013
Reinforcement Learning and Psychology: A Personal Story
Dr. Rich Sutton, Department of Computer Science, University of Alberta
The modern field of reinforcement learning (RL) has a long, intertwined relationship with psychology. Almost all the powerful ideas of RL came originally from psychology, and today they are recognized as having significantly increased our ability to solve difficult engineering problems, from playing backgammon, to flying helicopters, to optimal placing of internet advertisements. Psychology should celebrate this and take credit for it. RL has also begun to give something back to the study of natural minds, as RL algorithms are providing insights into classical conditioning, the neuroscience of brain reward systems, and the role of mental replay in thought. I have been working in the field of RL for much of this journey, back and forth between nature and engineering, and have played a role in some of the key steps. In this talk I tell the story as it seemed to happen from my point of view, and summarize it in four things that every psychologist should know about RL: 1) that it is a formalization of learning by trial and error, with engineering uses, 2) that it is a formalization of the propagation of reward predictions that closely matches behavioral and neuroscience data, 3) that it is a formalization of thought as learning from replayed experience that again matches data from natural systems, and 4) overall, there is a beautiful confluence of psychology, neuroscience, and computational theory on common ideas and elegant algorithms.
Mar 22, 2013
Making Waves in the Stream of Consciousness
Dr. Kyle E. Mathewson
Alpha oscillations are ubiquitous in the brain, but their role in cortical processing remains a matter of debate. Recently, evidence has begun to accumulate in support of a role for alpha oscillations in attention selection and control. I will present a series of studies investigating the role of Alpha oscillations in visual processing, learning, and awareness. We have proposed a role for these 8-12 Hz oscillations as a pulsed inhibition of ongoing brain activity, given that alpha’s inhibitory influence on our visual awareness fluctuates as a function of its phase.
I show that these posterior alpha oscillations can be entrained by external stimulation, such that preferential processing occurs for stimuli at predictable moments. Further, I show by combining non-invasive, near-infrared optical imaging of neuronal activity with electroencephalography, that posterior alpha oscillations are modulated by top-down influences from the fronto-parietal attention networks. Finally I show how these theories can be applied to measurement of brain activity in more ecologically valid settings such as video game training and automobile driving, as an ongoing index of engagement and attentional resources, and speak about developing technologies for more portable brain recording, taking psychophysiology outside of the lab.
Mar 20, 2013
Auditory and Visual Phonological Processing During Reading and Listening
Reading and listening are two skills used in language processing. Many studies have investigated reading ability but fewer have looked at listening skills and no studies to date have studied the association between the two.This dissertation looks at the relationship between reading skill and listening skill and how this association may be used as a measure of phonological processing efficiency. Reading speed scores were found to be correlated with listening speed scores. The difference between these standardized scores was taken (reading listening- difference or RLD scores) and compared to other tasks. RLD scores were found to be significantly related to language tasks that access phonological processing but not semantic processing, indicating the RLD effect is phonological. Other confounding factors such as auditory non-linguistic processing, and general cognitive processing were ruled out and not reliably correlated with RLD scores. Implications of this research are discussed, including possible ways to fit this research with current models of reading.
Mar 15, 2013
Culture’s Influence on Perspective in Art Production for Japanese Secondary School Students
Previous studies found that there are cultural variations in perspective in representations of artistic landscapes. Specifically, Eastern paintings have higher horizons than Western paintings, providing a bird’s eye view to incorporate more contextual information into the frame. These cultural patterns of perspective in art were furthermore replicated in landscape illustrations by East Asian and Western university students (Masuda, Gonzalez, Kwan & Nisbett, 2008), and such culturally specific patterns were also observed among elementary school children once they understood the concept of a horizon, with Japanese children drawing the horizon higher than Canadian and having more objects in their landscapes (Senzaki & Masuda, 2013). To comprehensively understand developmental trajectories in relation to perspective and art, we examined how secondary school students in Japan created landscapes. Results indicated that Japanese secondary school children generally showed similar aesthetic perspectives to their primary school and university counterparts by drawing high horizons and providing more contextual information. Furthermore, there may be a transitional point in adolescence when cultural biases become weakened.
Mar 15, 2013
Arousal and associative learning: Disruptions despite the best of intentions
Mar 12, 2013
The 27th Annual Royce conference
will be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2012. Veronique Bohbot
of McGill University will be the keynote speaker. The conference will also feature invited presentations by Elena Nicoladis and Weimin Mou.
Mar 08, 2013
Hidden flexibility in the description of results: Why it's a problem and what to do
Mar 07, 2013
Assiniboia Hall 2-02A
Is the posterior perceptron an ace of Bayes?
There is a growing movement in cognitive science to replace the logicism that defines classical cognitive science with a new formalism, probability theory. Inevitably this leads to using Bayesian inference as a norm to which human cognition can be compared. Critics of this perspective argue that Bayesians study cognition exclusively at the computational level. Bayesians themselves suggest that lower level accounts (algorithmic, architectural, implementational) will at best approximate Bayesian theory. Some critics contend that biologically plausible mechanisms capable of implementing Bayesian theory have not been found. Here we show that simple artificial neural networks may serve as Bayesian mechanisms. Simulation studies show that these networks generate responses consistent with Bayes’ rule. Formal analyses prove that one can translate Bayes’ rule into the parameters that describe network structure. Posterior perceptrons don’t approximate Bayes – they bring it to life!
Mar 01, 2013
Songbird BioCognition: Progress and prospects
Dr. Chris Sturdy
For over 11 years our lab has investigated a wide variety of topics, all relating to perception, cognition, behaviour, development, as well as the neurobiological correlates of songbird communication. Our approaches range widely and include bioacoustics of songbird vocalizations, behavioural experiments in the laboratory and field, operant conditioning, artificial neural networks, and inducible immediate early gene assays. We have mainly focused our investigations by using songbirds as subjects; however, we have also tested humans in a truly comparative manner. In this talk, I will provide an overview of the diverse research topics we have investigated in our lab, how they relate to one another, as well as how they relate to the research of our scientific colleagues. I will then discuss our most recent research interests, and finish with a glimpse into future avenues of investigation that once again, unite many recurrent themes in our research, including conceptual behaviour, rooting out phylogenetic and sex-based differences in vocal production and perception, and discovering general mechanisms of ranging (distance estimation) in chickadees and other animals.
Feb 15, 2013
Relational Mobility and Friendship Experiences
Man Wai Li
Prior work demonstrated relational mobility influences friendship experiences such as similarity-attraction for friendship formation and disclosure with close friends. In the current research, we introduced a new possible underlying mechanism, a sense of friendship ambiguity, for the relationship of relational mobility and friendship experiences. We found evidence that the associations with relational mobility and different aspects of friendship experience through an indirect effect of a sense of friendship ambiguity in a cross-cultural survey (Study 1) and an experiment with relational mobility manipulation (Study 2).
Feb 15, 2013
A feeling for the word: Co-occurrence, emotion, and lexical access
Feb 01, 2013
Traumatized individuals and their anxiety-buffering system
Research suggests that traumatized individuals are unable to engage in worldview defense as a result of a disruption in their anxiety-buffering system, however, an alternative explanation seems plausible. The present study, therefore, is designed to examine this issue. Undergraduate students will be categorized into three conditions based on the severity of post-traumatic symptoms. Participants will then complete measures assessing levels of depletion and cognitive functioning. It is expected that participants with high levels of post-traumatic symptoms will exhibit the highest levels of depletion, but retain comparable levels of cognitive functioning, compared to those with either low levels of symptoms or participants who have not experienced a traumatic event. This would suggest that coping with high levels of post-traumatic symptoms leads to self-regulatory fatigue (leaving individuals unable to engage in anxiety-buffering processes), rather than in a disruption in one’s anxiety-buffering system, as previously suggested.
Jan 25, 2013
Sex & Violence; Genes & Brains
Dr. Pete Hurd
Why are some individuals more aggressive than others? The long term goal of my research is to understand the causes, both evolutionary and developmental, of individual differences in aggressiveness and other social behaviours. At present the proximate and developmental causes of individual differences in such personality traits are not well understood. My work has examined how individual variation in social behaviour, i) evolves — through the use of game theoretical models, ii) is tied to genetic variation — through the use of molecular genetics, and iii) is tied to brain structure and function — using a variety of neuroscience techniques. I will discuss some recent research in my lab which attempts to identify the biological underpinnings of variation in personality, in humans and cichlid fish, in the womb, in the genes, and in the brain.
Jan 18, 2013
The Roles of Mineralocorticoid and GABAA Receptors in Anxiety and Fear Memory
The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the roles of brain mineralocorticosteroid (MR) and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABAA) receptors in mediating unconditioned fear and fear memory. The first set of experiments explored the role of hippocampal and medial prefrontal cortex mineralocorticosteroid receptors (MRs) in anxiety and fear memory. The MR antagonist RU28318 was microinfused into the dorsal hippocampus (DH), ventral hippocampus (VH) or medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) ten minutes prior to testing in two rodent models of unconditioned anxiety, the elevated plus-maze and shock-probe burying test. Fear memory was then assessed in the shock-probe apparatus 24 hours later by re-exposing non-drugged rats to a non-electrified probe. RU28318 infusions into the VH reduced anxiety in the elevated plus-maze while RU28318 in the DH or mPFC did not. In contrast, RU28318 infusions into the DH, VH and mPFC all reduced anxiety in the shock-probe burying test. Fear memory was not affected by infusions into any of the three brain regions.
The second set of experiments examined the role of hippocampal GABAA receptors in mediating unconditioned anxiety. GABAA receptors mediate the anxiety-reducing (i.e., anxiolytic) effects of benzodiazepines such as diazepam. Although the DH and VH both contain GABAA receptors, their role in mediating anxiety is not well understood. Rats were microinfused into the DH or VH with the indirect GABAA agonist diazepam or the GABAA inverse agonist FG-7142 and tested in the elevated plus-maze. Diazepam reduced anxiety in the plus-maze when it was infused into either the DH or VH, whereas FG-7142 infusions had no effect on anxiety.
The third set of experiments examined the role of hippocampal GABAA receptor sub-units in mediating anxiety and fear memory. α2 GABAA receptor sub-units are thought to mediate the anxiolytic effects of benzodiazepines and α5 sub-units are thought to mediate the amnesic effects of benzodiazepines. The DH and VH both contain GABAA receptors having these sub-units. Rats were given intra-hippocampal microinfusions of either TPA023 (an α2 agonist) or TB-21007 (an α5 inverse agonist) and tested in the plus-maze and shock-probe tests. Twenty-four hours later, rats were tested for fear memory with the non-electrified shock-probe. The α2 agonist (TPA023) reduced anxiety when it was infused into the VH but had no effect when infused into the DH. Conversely, the inverse α5 agonist (TB-21007) impaired fear memory when it was infused into the DH, but not when it was infused into the VH.
Overall, these results suggest that mineralocorticoid and GABAA receptors in the dorsal and ventral hippocampus mediate anxiety. In addition, these results suggest that ventral hippocampal GABAA α2 sub-units mediate anxiety and dorsal hippocampal GABAA α5 sub-units mediate fear memory.
Jan 18, 2013
Is there a difference between pantomime and gesture?
Jan 11, 2013
Accommodating to the learning environment: Secondary control, self-determined motivation, and academic engagement
This study examined how “secondary control,” or individuals’ tendency to adjust themselves to accommodate the environment, related to classroom motivation and various learning outcomes among 100 Canadian university students in foreign language classes. Participants completed a questionnaire measuring their perceptions of support for their autonomy, competence, and relatedness; intrinsic and extrinsic motivation; and academic engagement and language anxiety. Engaging in secondary control via positive reappraisal was associated with greater feelings of autonomy and competence. Consistent with Morling, Kitayama, & Miyamoto (2002), this type of secondary control was also associated with feelings of relatedness, in this case to the target language community and the instructor. Positive reappraisals were correlated with higher levels of intrinsic motivation, self-determined extrinsic motivation, and engagement. Regression analyses showed that secondary control tends to moderate the negative effects of a controlling instructor on academic engagement and anxiety. Implications for supporting student engagement are discussed.