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Meet the 2006 APA Dissertation Research Award Recipients!

This year, thirty-nine students received a total of $50,000 in awards from the Science Directorate.

By Nicolle Singer

Since 1988, the APA Science Directorate has distributed dissertation research support to graduate students. This year, thirty-nine students received a total of $50,000. Please visit the APA Awards website for more information about this funding opportunity for advanced graduate students.

The 2006 recipients include:

Sarah E. Holstein, Oregon Health & Science University
"Role of the GABAergic System in Acute Sensitivity to Alcohol"
$5,000 award

In order to contribute to the understanding of the genetic and neurobiological bases of addiction, Sarah examines initial sensitivity to alcohol. "Acute sensitivity to the behavioral stimulant effects of alcohol is a genetically heritable trait that may have predictive value for the development of alcoholism." Therefore, her research "focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying acute alcohol sensitivity, particularly how GABAergic systems, and their interaction with the mesolimbic dopamine system, may be involved in mediating this effect." Sarah is investigating this by using microdialysis to measure the effects of a pharmacological manipulation of the GABA receptors on mesolimbic dopamine."

Because increased sensitivity to the acute stimulant effects of alcohol has predictive value for the development of alcoholism in humans, the neurobiological mechanisms of this relationship are investigated in selectively-bred mice with extremely high or low sensitivity to the effects of alcohol. The results of this research will contribute to the understanding of the contribution of GABAergic systems to the mediation of acute stimulant sensitivity to alcohol.

This $5,000 award will relieve much of the financial constraint associated with the in vivo microdialysis necessary for this experiment. Sarah reports that "I am honored to receive this award from the American Psychological Association, and grateful for this financial support of my dissertation research."

Anne C. McLaughlin, Georgia Institute of Technology
"A Controlled Resource Approach to Understanding the Effects of Feedback on Learning"
$3,750 award

Anne's research centers on a framework that she has developed to explain the interaction between individual ability, task demands, and the type of feedback received. The working memory capacity of older and younger adults will be assessed in this dissertation research to investigate the amount of feedback support needed to best promote learning. Anne reports that "the literature on training is extensive, but there is no consensus for how to choose the appropriate feedback that supports learning. Too much, too little, or the wrong type of feedback can actually harm learning, but without an underlying theory of effective feedback we do not understand why this is the case." This study will therefore "test whether effective feedback can be predicted by the cognitive needs and limits of the learner."

The results will inform best instructional practices for students with different working memory capabilities. Levels of performance feedback and cognitive task load will be experimentally manipulated in order to measure the effects of feedback support for each working memory capacity group.

This $3,750 award will offset the costs of participant recruitment and compensation for this two-session longitudinal study.

Carmela M. Reichel, University of Nebraska-Linclon
"Competition between Conditioned Cocaine and Novelty Reward"
$3,750 award

Carmela conducts research with the long-term goal of potentially enhancing drug abuse treatment programs. In order to investigate the effectiveness of novel stimuli as substitutes for drug reward in human abusers, she is focusing on the competition that can occur between conditioned cocaine and novelty rewards in a pre-clinical model. For instance, access to novelty (i.e., new environments and experiences) is rewarding to humans and animals. So, might access to novelty be an alternative reward that has the ability to compete with cocaine reward? And if this is the case, might novel stimuli be similarly rewarding for human drug users?

The preliminary experiments in this line of dissertation research answer the former question - yes - and "show that access to a novel object can create an alternative learning history." This learning then "impacts choice behaviors directed by the conditioned rewarding effects of cocaine." For the next step, Carmela will investigate "the strength of novelty reward, by assessing whether higher and presumably more rewarding doses of cocaine are sensitive to novelty's impact." For the final step in this dissertation, she plans to "determine whether novelty reward competes during an abstinence period, and whether novelty reward retains its ability to compete after a long period of time."

This $3,750 award will ease the financial burden associated with the experimental costs of this research.

Leh Woon Mok, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
"Development of a New Behavioral and fMRI Paradigm to Study Retrospective vs. Prospective Processing in Delayed Conditional Discrimination"
$2,500 award

Leh Woon conducts cognitive neuroscience research examining the effect of anticipated consequences on people's choices. She explains that life is filled with choices, and every choice has a consequence that helps shape our behaviors. Prior research has shown that "when correct choices are learned through delivery of cue-unique outcomes, learning is faster and more accurate than when a common outcome is delivered." This is called the differential outcomes effect (DOE). Leh Woon reports that "my dissertation focused on developing a new behavioral and fMRI paradigm to examine the neuroanatomical substrates for the prospective memory process that contributes to the DOE."

Memory was activated during a brief delay between the cue and the choice, during which time "correct choices can be mediated by retrospective information about the cue, and prospective information about the correct choice stimulus and/or expected trial outcome." This methodology was intended to help reveal which brain areas are more engaged during the DOE, which could help provide insights into the activation of memory networks in different learning conditions.

The $2,500 award will provide participant compensation for the pilot studies and main experiments, and will relieve much of the financial constraint associated with the purchase of equipment and software.


The recipients of $1,000 Dissertation Research Awards, in alphabetical order, include:

Robin L. Aupperle, University of Kansas & KU Medical Center
A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled fMRI Study Examining the Effects of Acute D-Cycloserine Administration on Brain Activations and Cognitive Functioning in Spider Phobia

Ashley S. Bangert, University of Michigan
Mechanisms of Timing Across Tasks and Temporal Intervals

Geoffrey L. Brown, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Father Involvement, Fathering Quality, and Father-Child Attachment in the First Three Years

Lisa M. Christian, Ohio State University
Stress, Depression, and Inflammatory Immune Response During Pregnancy

Kahni Clements, Indiana University, Bloomington
Marital Conflict and Depression Within the Context of Couples' Ongoing Interpersonal Interactions and Daily Stressors

Tali Ditman, Tufts University
Neural Indices of Discourse Comprehension

Abbey S. Eisenhower, University of California, Los Angeles
Improving Student-Teacher Relationships for Children with Externalizing Behavior Problems during the Transition to Kindergarten

Coreen A. Farris, Indiana University, Bloomington
Misperception of Women's Sexual Interest Cues: Influence of Alcohol Intoxication and Sexual Coercion History

Alison W. Fries, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Effects of Early Neglect on Associative Reward Learning in Children

Sarah J. Hart, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Effects of Distraction on Active Maintenance in Healthy Controls and Individuals with Schizophrenia

Christian S. Hendershot, University of Washington
Alcohol Use in Asian Americans: Integrating Genetic and Psychosocial Factors

Ellen S. Hendriksen, University of California, Los Angeles
Start Safe, Stay Safe: Condom Use at Sexual Debut, Condom Use Consistency, and Biological Outcomes of Sexual Risk

William C. Heusler, Washington School of Professional Psychology at Argosy U./Seattle
Gender & Sex Differences in Response to Traumatic Events in Firefighter/Paramedics

Ellen M. Hogan, Washington University in St. Louis
Age Differences in Output Monitoring: Evaluation of Two Theoretical Models

Eric D. Jackson, The University of Arizona
The Impact of Stress and Glucocorticoids on the Formation of Emotional Memories and Conditioned Fear

Vaishali Jahagirdar, University of Albany, SUNY
Regulation of Progesterone Receptors in the Subplate of the Developing Cortex by Thyroid Hormone

Kerry E. Jordan, Duke University
The Multisensory Nature of Nonverbal Number Representations

Jeffrey D. Karpicke, Washington University in St. Louis
Students' Use of Self-Testing as a Strategy to Enhance Learning

Scott Barry Kaufman, Yale University
Individual Differences in Implicit Learning and its Relationship to Intelligence, Learning, Personality, and Creativity: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach

Han-Joo Lee, The University of Texas at Austin
Attentional Biases in Social Anxiety: An Investigation Using the Inattentional Blindness Paradigm

Suma Mallavarapu, Georgia Institute of Technology
Object Permanence in Apes, Monkeys, and Prosimians at Zoo Atlanta

Jennifer Knapp Manuel, University of New Mexico
Treating the Concerned Family Members of Alcohol and Drug Users: A Randomized Study

Lisa A. Molix, University of Missouri - Columbia
The Generalization of Positive Intergroup Attitudes: Reducing Intergroup Anxiety

Lisa R. Narvaez, The University of Texas at Austin
Class of Individual Differences Produce Context Sensitivity Differences

Kristina R. Olson, Harvard University
Children's Preference for the Lucky

Ilke Oztekin, New York University
Behavioral and Neural Markers of Individual Differences in Working Memory Capacity

Jeanine M. Parisi, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Determinants and Effects of Engagement in Adulthood

Paul Poteat, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The Social Context of Prejudice: Identifying Peer Group Effects on Individual Attitudes

Reuben N. Robbins, Fordham University
Cultural and Neuropsychological Predictors of Medication Adherence among HIV+ Hispanic Adults

Anthony C. Ruocco, Drexel University
Neural Correlates of Emotional and Interpersonal Processes in Borderline Personality

Jenessa R. Shapiro, Arizona State University
Stereotype Threat to Stereotype Threats: Testing a Multi-Threat Framework

Olga Shcheslavskaya, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Effects of Hardiness on Cardiovascular and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Reactivity to Stress

Emily Skow, University of Arizona
A Look at Learning in Repeated Search: Memory for Bound Entities

Zachary C. Walsh, Rosalind Franklin University
Psychopathy, Ethnicity, SES and Violence: A Further Examination

Lisa Johnson Wright, Arizona State University
Adaptation to Early Knee Osteoarthritis: The Role of Risk, Resilience, and Disease Status Variables