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Kristi S. Multhaup
Mark E. Faust
Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte
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University of Missouri
University of Iowa
Members-At-Large of the
David Washburn (08-11)
Jeremy Wolfe (08-11)
Mark Bouton (07-10)
University of Vermont
Nora Newcombe (07-10)
Gil Einstein (06-09)
Karen Hollis (06-09)
Mount Holyoke College
Graduate Student Representative
University of Iowa
Representative to APA Council
Emanuel Donchin (08-10)
University of South Florida
Thomas R. Zentall (07-09)
University of Kentucky
Michael Beran (Awards)
Mike Young (Fellows, 08-09)
Southern Illinois University
Emily Elliott (Program)
Charles L. Brewer
Early Career Psychologist
California State U. at Fullerton
2008 APA Program Retrospective
Mind, Brain, & Behavior in Boston
Is the Division 3 Model Broken?
Jeremy Wolfe, Division 3 2008 Program Chair
Success and Embarrassment
What can I tell you about the Division Three program at this year’s APA convention in Boston? I can tell you that it was very good but that I was not very happy. Let me explain. I heard a collection of excellent talks organized or co-sponsored by Division Three. Starting on Thurs morning, Bob Cook (Tufts) put together a good symposium entitled “How Animals, Humans, and Computer Models Remember Visual Objects”. We honored Helen Mahut who spent most of her career at Northeastern U with a session on Hippocampus and Memory. Speakers traced the progress in the field from early work at McGill where Helen was Hebb’s student to current work on Alzheimer’s disease. In the afternoon, Linda Bartoshuk (U. Florida) brought together a group of people exploring an unexpected connection between obesity and childhood ear infections. The connection runs through the sense of taste (because the chorda tympani nerves innervating the taste buds run through the ears. I know that because I got that question wrong on my Physiological Psych exam in 1975.).
On Friday, I chaired a session on visual processing: From Eye to Brain and Back Again, featuring a trio of excellent researchers from MIT: Jim DiCarlo, Pawan Sinha, and Peter Schiller. Then we had four sessions, spread over Friday and Saturday in which we honored New Fellows of Division 3 and the winners of the New Investigator Awards from the JEP journals. Each one of the talks that I heard was a clear and stimulating. My notes from those talks will give me new tidbits for my Intro Psych class this fall on topics from pain perception to clinical diagnosis. I am afraid that I missed the Sunday sessions (including our poster session) because I needed to collect my 12-yr old from camp. I also missed Ed Wasserman’s Division 3 Presidential Address though I heard nothing but good reports. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our speakers who came from near and far (largely at their own expense) to share their science with us.
So, with first-rate science presented by first-rate speakers, why wasn’t I entirely happy? I wasn’t happy because attendance at many of these sessions was pathetic. The session honoring Helen Mahut was well attended. Attendance at some of the other sessions could be counted on the fingers of two hands; one hand, in some cases, if you didn’t count the speakers and the session chair. It is embarrassing and it is hard to see why a future speaker would want to pay for the privilege of talking to an essentially empty room.
Please note; this is not intended as an effort to make you feel guilty about your absence. Rather, I want to argue that the model is broken. The APA convention is not a significant scientific meeting for most members of Division 3. You know that, so you were not there. Most of our scientific colleagues, especially the younger ones, are not even members of the division. There is little support for the notion that members of other divisions will come to our sessions in order to get a booster shot of Psychological science.
APA and the division play an important role in advocating for our science, maintaining important journals and other resources, a fostering a degree of unity in a diverse field. We need to think how to use the APA convention to foster those divisional goals. We are not succeeding by mounting a pale imitation of a scientific meeting. We need a new plan. If you have ideas, I will be happy to use my position as an at-large member of the Executive Committee to share them with the Division. Drop me an email.
2008 Program Chair, Division 3
Brigham and Women’s Hospital & Harvard Medical School
Visual Attention Lab
64 Sidney St. Suite. 170
Cambridge, MA 02139-4170