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Announcing the 2007 APA Dissertation Research Award Recipients!

Please join us in congratulating these outstanding students and APA Dissertation Research Award recipients.

Each year since 1988, the Science Directorate has made awards to a group of promising graduate students to assist with the costs of their dissertation research. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding students and APA Dissertation Research Award recipients. For more information about this funding opportunity for advanced graduate students, visit the APA Funding website.

Ebony Glover,
Emory University

Effects of Immediate Extinction on Consolidation and Reconsolidation of Fear Memory and mTOR-p70S6 Kinase Signaling

This project uses an animal model of fear learning and memory with the long-term goal of better understanding and treating anxiety disorders, such as PTSD. Among the maladaptive behaviors associated with PTSD is the presence of persistent and intrusive traumatic memories, which are often resistant to treatment. This project explores the me chanisms involved in producing and eliminating these types of traumatic memories. Specifically, it examines the idea that disrupting fear memory in the aftermath of a traumatic experience may be a useful approach for mitigating PTSD symptoms.

Recent research shows that memories can be obliterated when certain treatments are given immediately after memory recall. Also, exposure to a reminder of prior trauma over and over again in a safe environment (fear extinction) can erase memories when done immediately after fear learning. Ms. Glover plans to combine these ideas and hypothesizes that fear extinction given immediately after memory recall will erase these painful memories. She will measure an intracellular marker involved in memory storage to test erasure. In a series of three studies, Ms. Glover will test whether a fear memory, and a change in one of its intracellular substrates, will be erased when fear extinction occurs immediately after a fear response is learned and also after an old fear memory is recalled. She will use the startle response in rats as a marker of fear.

This $4,000 award will be used for the purchase and housing of animals needed for this research.

Nathan Parks,
Georgia Institute of Technology

Neural Mechanisms of Short-Term Visual Plasticity and Perceptual Filling-In

When the visual cortices are damaged, they have been shown to exhibit plasticity by transferring the function of the effected area elsewhere. Research in this area has often depended upon animal models, but Mr. Parks' research investigates these phenomena directly in human populations. Through an artificial scotoma paradigm using a visual stimulus, short-term visual plasticity due to a retinal lesion can be briefly replicated in humans without lasting damage.

In four studies, Mr. Parks will explore the dynamics of shorter-term plasticity and disinhibition in humans. Using psychophysical and event-related potential measures, each experiment will compare a scotoma condition and a sham condition. Two experiments will examine short-term plasticity in an artificial scotoma using Gabor patch stimuli. One will examine perceptual sensitivity to contrast, and the other will examine visual evoked event-related potentials in the presence of the Gabor patch. The two additional experiments will be more exploratory, investigating how short-term plasticity induced through an artificial scotoma affects surrounding regions of space.

The award of $3,000 award will be used for participant compensation.

Julia Parish-Morris,
Temple University

How Children with Autism Learn Verbs and Prepositions: The Role of Spatial Cognition and Social Understanding

Many children with autism have difficulty developing grammatical proficiency in their native language. Past research has focused on how children with autism learn nouns, but research with typically-developing populations suggests that verbs and prepositions are especially important for acquiring grammar. If children with autism are going to develop full language, they must have a vocabulary that includes relational words. In a series of three studies, Ms. Parish-Morris will examine how the spatial and social abilities of individual children with autism and matched control children influence the acquisition of verbs and prepositions.

In the first (spatial) study, children will be challenged to categorize static spatial relations like "above/below" and dynamic relations like "over/under". Participants will watch videos depicting each relation, and their gaze fixation on different parts of the screen will be measured. In the second (social) study, each child's ability to understand other people's intentions will be assessed though a number of established experimental paradigms. In the third study, scores from the first two sets of tasks will be combined to statistically predict the number of verbs and prepositions in each child's vocabulary. In this way, the differential contributions of spatial ability and social ability to relational language acquisition can be identified.

The award of $2,500 will be used to compensate families for their participation as well as to offset the cost of recruitment.

Darby Saxbe,
University of California, Los Angeles

Stress, Mood, and Social Connectedness in Everyday Family Life

Daily stressors have been shown to effect home life and satisfaction through emotional, behavioral, and physiological responses. This research assesses how work-family stress impacts physical health through its impact on levels of the stress hormones cortisol, testosterone, and salivary alpha-amylase. Using in-depth data on 30 families collected at the Center for the Everyday Lives of Families, the interaction of these three hormones will be analyzed.

Ms. Saxbe will conduct a series of three studies examining work-family stress and its physiological sequela. The first examines associations between spousal mood and physiological arousal throughout the day, to assess the extent of hormonal coregulation and marital satisfaction. The second study will examine whether withdrawal and isolation at home while unwinding from work impacts marital satisfaction and stress hormones. The third study will assess how people feel about their homes through the novel approach of linguistic analysis. Linguistic analysis software will be employed to examine the relationship between the words used by participants during narrated tours of their homes with stress hormones and levels of marital satisfaction.

The award of $2,500 will be used to examine levels of stress hormones in saliva samples.

Andrea Webb,
University of Utah

Regulatory Depletion and the Detection of Deception

The polygraph has been used as a tool for credibility assessment, but its validity and utility as such a tool has been questioned. Alternative assessments such as cognition-based eye tracking deception tests have therefore been developed. In Ms. Webb's previous research, eye movement and pupil dilation while reading items were related to deception. To extend this research, Ms. Webb's dissertation examines regulatory depletion as the mechanism through which cognition-based deception tests function.

In this research, eye movements and fixation times will be assessed for participants randomly assigned to groups for guilt versus innocence, difficult versus easy questions, and high versus low motivation. In addition to the participant compensation advertized in recruitment materials, the high motivation group will receive an additional $30 if they can convincingly lie about their innocence. The low motivation group will receive an additional $1. After responding to the questions, a Stroop task will be administered, to assess whether regulatory depletion depends on group membership. Open-ended interviews will also be used, to determine whether participants used any novel strategies to convince the experimenters of their innocence. The effectiveness of these variables for classifying people into guilty and innocent groups will be assessed as the study's main outcome.

The award of $2,500 will be used for participant compensation.

Brian Wolff,
University of Denver

Reactivity and Social Support for Young Children Living in Poverty

This research evaluates the effect of social support during stress among preschool children living in poverty. Higher levels of physiological reactivity to stress have been linked to health risks at all ages. In past research on adults and adolescents, social support has been shown to attenuate the physiological response to stress. Mr. Wolff's research seeks to evaluate whether children can also benefit from social support from adults as they experience stress.

Specifically, each participant's physiological response to stress will be measured in social support or neutral conditions. First, baseline data will be collected while an experimenter behaves in a neutral manner. Multiple physiological measures, such as skin conductance, heart rate, and impedance cardiography (ICG), will be continuously measured while participants listen to stories designed to be neutral or mildly stressful for 4-5 year olds. To elicit individual differences in reactivity to stress, a different experimenter will conduct the second part of the study while behaving either neutrally or with social support. A similar stress induction procedure will be administered by the second experimenter and differences between the two sessions will then be examined.

This $2,500 award will be used to compensate families for their time.

The recipients of $1,000 Dissertation Research Awards in 2007, in alphabetical order, are:

Kirstin Aschbacher, University of California San Diego/San Diego State University
Effects of Negative Affect, Caregiving Stress, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors on Platelet Responses to Acute Psychological Stress

Maria Barnes, University of Louisville
Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Cognition in Children

Ana A. L. Baumann, Utah State University
A Cross-cultural Comparison of Delay Discounting and Time Discrimination: Are Latinos More Impulsive and Less Accurate in Time Perception than White Americans?

Danielle Bello, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Neurocognitive Deficits and Functional Outcome in Bipolar I Disorder

Roxanne Benoit, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Cultural Preconceptions and Description Modifications: Tailoring Utterances to the Listener

Courtney Bonam, Stanford University
Polluting Black Space: Physical Locations as Targets of Environmental Racism

Krysta Chauncey, Tufts University
Subjective Frequency and Task in Language-switching Costs

Gregory Colflesh, University of Illinois at Chicago
What Happens to Attention When We Drink?

Joseph Ditre, University of South Florida
Pain as a Motivator of Smoking: Mechanisms of Action

Jan Engelmann, Brown University
Neural Correlates of Incentive Motivation during Goal-directed Cognition

Susan Faja, University of Washington
The Role of Motivation in the Executive Function and Symptom Expression of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Cherise Harrington, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Biomechanical, Mood and Cortisol Response to Work Demands in Office Workers with High and Low Risk Workstyle

Brant P. Hasler, University of Arizona
Diurnal Rhythms in Co-Sleeping Couples

Amanda Hege, University of Virginia
The Effect of Affective State on Unintentional Plagiarism

Michael Hove, Cornell University
Rhythms: Synchronization, Social Interaction and the Self

Kristen Kennedy, Wayne State University
Age and Vascular-related Differences in White Matter Integrity, Regional Brain Volumes and Cognition: A Combined DTI and Structural MRI Study

Elizabeth Kiel, University of Missouri-Columbia
Associations between Maternal Awareness and Children's Fearfulness and Anxiety

Anne Krendl, Dartmouth College
An Examination of the Effects of Normal Aging on Attitudes toward the Stigmatized

Sonia Marrone, University of North Dakota
A Behavioral Health Intervention for Decreasing Weight Gain in First Year University Students

Megan M. Martin, Northern Illinois University
A Double Dissociation in the Roles of Cortical and Hippocampal Cholinergic Deafferentation on Organization of Food Protection Behavior

Lauren McGrath, University of Denver
Gene x Environment Interactions in Developmental Dyslexia

Sarah Meerts, Dartmouth College
The Contributions of Vaginal Input on the Reinforcing Effects of Mating in Female Rats

Anaya Meitra, University of Florida
Impact of Maternal Obesity on the Development of Obesity and Hypertension in the Offspring Using a BHR Model

Jackie L. Micklewright, Georgia State University
Adaptive Functioning Following Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury: The Influence of Parental Distress on Parenting Styles and Child Functional Outcomes

Elisa Na, University of Iowa
The Interaction Between Opioids and Sodium Taste and Sodium Appetite Sensitization

Kiruthiga Nandagopal, Florida State University
An Expert Performance Approach to Examining Academic Success in Introductory Organic Chemistry

Pamela Pallett, University of California, San Diego
The Fundamentals of Configuration in Face Perception and Discrimination

Casey Schofield, Binghamton University
Attentional Biases in Social Phobia: Utilizing Eye Movement Data

Laura N. Smith, George Mason University
Nicotine Sensitization in an Adolescent Rat Model: The Role of the D3 Dopamine Receptor

Lisa Starr, State University of New York at Stony Brook
Mechanisms and Gender Differences in Anxiety-Depression Co-occurrence

Dawn Sugarman, Syracuse University
Web-Based Alcohol Feedback Interventions for Heavy Drinking College Students: Does Drinking Control Strategy Use Mediate Intervention Effects?

Tracey Wheeler, George Mason University
Nicotine and Methylphenidate on Adolescent Brain Development and Addiction Liability: Dose Investigation

Jesse Zolna, Georgia Institute of Technology
Two Stage Process Model of Learning from Multimedia: Guidelines for Design