(Train your) Brain Day 2014

The 6th annual Brain Day will be held at the Carnegie Museum in Crawfordsville on Saturday, July 12th from 1-4pm. This year’s theme is “Train Your Brain!”

Prof. Karen Gunther demonstrates the Rubber Hand Illusion at Brain Day 2010.

With the rise in popularity of “brain-training games” (think of the Lumosity commercials!), you may wonder: can you really change your brain? Well, brain-training games may not be worth your money, but your brain does change every day.

Join us on Brain Day for some simple demonstrations of how your brain adapts when the world changes (in prism-goggles cornhole), train your brain using biofeedback and using the Star Wars Force Trainer, and get tips on how to keep your brain healthy, and much more!

Since 2009, Wabash faculty and students have partnered with the Carnegie Museum to lead an afternoon of brain-related activities for all ages. Like Brain Awareness Week, which is organized by the Society for Neuroscience, Brain Day is intended to demonstrate basic principles of brain function, and to help us all better appreciate and care for our brains.

Wabash Psychology Department Intern Romeo Amao ’13 shows Dr. Keith Baird ’56 and his grandson, Nicholas Johnson, one of the sheep brain samples at Brain Day 2010

This year, three faculty from the Wabash College Psychology Department will lead Brain Day (Karen Gunther, Teresa Aubele-Futch and Neil Schmitzer-Torbert), who will be assisted by several Wabash students.

Prof. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert points out structures in a sheep brain at Brain Day 2010.

We hope that you can join us for another “brainy” years!

Summer psych in Hawaii: Reid ’15

Before starting his work this summer as a Sales Research Assistant Intern at Avangate, Jackson Reid ’15 took in the annual SIOP (Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology) conference in Oahu, Hawaii. The three-day conference included sessions on leadership, big data, high potential talent, self-determination theory, and more. Jackson wrote that his main reason for attending was to determine if he was interested in pursuing graduate study in Industrial and Organizational Psychology after Wabash, and whether he wanted to pursue a Master’s or PhD. After his discussions with many successful IO psychologists from all fields, which included former Presidents of SIOP and big name researchers, he has decided to pursue a PhD in IO psychology.

Big Bash 2014 and the year in review

The Psychology Department welcomed alumni back to campus with a reception in the Haenisch Reading Room in Hays Hall, the department’s temporary quarters as renovation work is completed in Baxter Hall.

The Psychology Department reception for Big Bash was held on Saturday, in Hays Hall. We had a great time, and enjoyed catching up with alums who we’ve had as students, and meeting alums who graduated before many of the current department members arrived at Wabash.

Photos from the reception (courtesy of Steve Charles) are posted here. If you made it to Big Bash, we hope that you had a chance to catch up on the recent events at Wabash and in the Psychology Department (a post on our Fall newsletter is available here). We plan to send out another departmental newsletter in the fall, but for now, we wanted to put out a short update to follow up on our Big Bash reception.

 

Moses Brand ’57 (who attended the Psychology Department Big Bash reception in 2013) talks with Sherm Franz and Professor Rush.

Highlights from 2013-14:

  • Twenty-five senior psychology majors graduated this year. Each senior completed a year-long capstone research project, which he presented at the Butler Undergraduate Research Conference, and at our Psychology Research Symposium.
  • Dr. Olofson received tenure, and was named the McClain-McTurner-Arnold Research Fellow
  • Dr. Bost was promoted to full professor. Dr. Bost will also be serving as the College’s Institutional Research Officer for the next several years.
  • Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert was named Daniel F. Evans Associate Professor in the Social Sciences.
  • Dr. Rush joined the department in the fall, serving as Dr. Bost’s replacement during sabbatical and next year while Dr. Bost serves as our IR officer.  Dr. Rush came to Wabash from University of California, Riverside, and last year he taught Psychology and Law, Cognitive Psychology, Literature Review and Introduction to Psychology. Dr. Rush’s work focuses on memory and eyewitness testimony, and he is working with four Wabash students this summer in research.
  • Dr. Aubele-Futch accepted a tenure-track offer to join the faculty at St. Mary’s University. We will certainly miss her here, but wish her the best in her new position! Over the past two years, Dr. Aubele-Futch has taught in our neuroscience courses, Introduction to Psychology, Literature Review and Hormones and Behavior as a sabbatical replacement. Last summer, she worked with Brad Wise ’14 on a study of the effects of nitric oxide on sexual behavior in male rats, which Dr. Aubele-Futch and Brad will be presenting as the Society for Neuroscience Meeting in Washington, D.C., this fall.
  • Profs. Preston Bost, Robert Horton and Ryan Rush had research articles published in 2013, two of which included Wabash students as co-authors.
  • Another research article appeared in print this spring, describing work that Dr. Olofson conducted with three Wabash students in their senior capstone project on autism.
  • And Dr. Gunther had two articles come out in print this spring, in the Journal of the Optical Society of America A (you can find abstracts for these articles here, and here).
  • Connor O’Rear ’14 was named the Distinguished Senior in Psychology, and Nathan Bryant ’14 received the Capstone award.
  • Andy Walsh ’14 and minor Ryan Cloyd ’14 delivered an excellent pair of speeches at Commencement.
  • Profs. Gunther, Aubele-Futch and Schmitzer-Torbert brought the 5th annual mGluRs undergraduate research conference to Wabash in the fall.
  • The Psychology Department is still housed in Baxter Hall, but if you are looking for us this summer, you’ll have to drop by Hays Hall. While the second and third floors of Baxter are being renovated this summer, we have temporarily moved into two classrooms in Hays Hall, one for office space and one for Dr. Gunther’s lab (in which Colin Downey ’15 will be working as the Parks summer research intern).

4/30 results

Wabash College’s first Day of Giving in April was a great success, raising over $460,000 in a single day. As part of the Day of Giving, the Psychology Department created an “Affinity Challenge” to raise money to support student research by Wabash students (through the Special Psychology Fund).

We created the Special Psychology Fund last year, to help us support a wide variety of student research activities. Currently, the Psychology Department has one endowed fund, which supports a student internship each summer (the Parks Research Internship, which honors Professor Eldon Parks). But, we do not have other endowed funds to support student research (outside of our annual departmental budget).

On the Day of Giving, our Affinity Challenge did not start until the afternoon, but even so we received 17 donations, for a total of more than $400. Next to the total for the day (>400k), this would seem to be a modest amount! But, it is important to note that before 4/30, only one person (a Psychology faculty member) had made a donation to the Special Psychology Fund, so this was a dramatic improvement! And, we were impressed with the diversity of donors, who included alumni, current students, faculty (in Psychology and other departments) and friends of the College.

Brad Wise ’14 presenting his senior capstone work at the Psychology Research Symposium

With the funds that we have received so far, we will be able to send a recent Wabash graduate (Brad Wise, ’14) to attend a national research conference in D.C this fall, to present on work that he did for his senior capstone research project with Dr. Aubele-Futch.

Over the next few years, we are hoping to grow the contributions to the Special Psychology Fund, to continue to support our research with Wabash students, and to provide them with more opportunities to conduct and present excellent work.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the College, whether on 4/30 or any time. We appreciate your support for the work that we do with Wabash students. If you are considering making a donation to Wabash, you can earmark part of your gift for our psychology students by directing your donation to the Special Psychology Fund.

 

Save the date: Big Bash 2014

Mark Rain (’73) and Nestor Matthews (Dennison University) at the Big Bash 2013 Psychology Reception

Coming to Big Bash this year? If so, please join us for our annual Psychology Department Reception (2-4pm) on Saturday, June 7th.

Due to summer construction, the second and third floors of Baxter Hall will be closed. So, the department has moved to temporary office space in Hays Hall. And, we will be moving the reception to Hays Hall (Room 206, on the north side of the building).

We always enjoy this chance to catch up with our recent alumni, as well as share stories with alums who were here before many of our current faculty members came to Wabash. We hope to see you there!

The full reunion schedule for Big Bash if available here: https://www.wabash.edu/alumni/reunion/schedule

Schmitzer-Torbert awarded Daniel F. Evans Chair

Prof. Schmitzer-Torbert at Brain Day in 2010.

Last week. Dr. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert was named the Daniel F. Evans Associate Professor in the Social Sciences. Daniel F. Evans ’43 was a longtime Trustee and Treasurer, and served as the College CEO in 1992-3.

The Evans chair was established by the Board of Trustees in 1994, and is awarded to a Wabash faculty member every three years. The award “recognizes an individual whose teaching and scholarship are admirable and effective, and whose intellectual leadership promises to affect the quality of instruction in his or her discipline and across the College.”  Previous Psychology faculty who have held the Evans chair are Profs. Robert Horton (2008-11) and Charles Blaich (1999-2002).

Prof. Schmitzer-Torbert received his bachelor’s degree from Knox College in 2000, and completed his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota in 2005. He joined the Wabash faculty in 2006, and received tenure in 2011. He teaches in the department’s Introduction to Psychology and Research Methods & Statistics courses, as well as the department’s offerings in neuroscience (Introduction to Neuroscience, Behavioral Neuroscience).  This fall, he will be travelling to Montreal with his Behavioral Neuroscience students to conduct research with a colleague at McGill University.

Psychology Awards 2014

Connor O’Rear ’14 presents his senior capstone research project at the 2014 Psychology Research Symposium

Each year, the Psychology Department gives out two awards, the Distinguished Senior in Psychology, and the Capstone Award. The Distinguished Senior in Psychology Award is given each year to the senior major who best represents the department’s ideal for outstanding scholarship, research and service, while the Senior Capstone Award is given each year to the senior major who completes the top senior capstone research project. The Capstone Award considers the scope of the senior capstone, the initiative of the major in completing it, and the public presentations that the senior makes (including our Psychology Research Symposium poster session).

At Awards Chapel last week, Connor O’Rear ’14 was announced to be the 28th Distinguished Senior in Psychology. Connor has excelled at Wabash, receiving Distinction on his Senior Comprehensive exams, and he was also named a Mackintosh Fellow at Awards Chapel. Connor came to Wabash from South Bend, and in his time at Wabash he has been very active in research (completing two summer internships, one with Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert and one with Dr. Horton) as well as three semesters of research with Dr. Horton outside of class. For his capstone project, Connor worked with Dr. Olfoson, in a study of the development of theory of mind in children. Outside of psychology, Connor also completed an area of concentration in Asian Studies and has been involved in the Chinese Club and Psi Chi and worked as a tutor at the writing center.

After Wabash, Connor will begin his PhD studies in Psychology at Notre Dame, where he will be continuing his focus on developmental psychology, in research on children’s understanding of math with Dr. Nicole McNeil (whose lab he volunteered in while still in high school).

Nathan Bryant ’14 receives the Capstone Award at the Psychology Research Symposium Keynote address.

This year, Nathan Bryant received the 2014 Capstone Award, for his project: The Effects of the Serotonin Agonist Sumatriptan on Aggression in a Neutral Cage in Adult Male Rats. Nathan is from Indianapolis and attended Ben Davis High School. He is a Senior DeMolay, and Freemason. At Wabash, Nathan served as a student senator, IFC representative, and vice-president of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

Working with Dr. Aubele-Futch, Nathan found that infusions of sumatriptan, a serotonin agonist, into the nucleus accumbens in rats significantly increased aggressive behavior in male rats. A copy of Nathan’s poster, presented at the Psychology Research Symposium, is posted below.

Nathan Bryant’s poster summarizing his capstone research project.

Butler trip 2014

On Friday, Profs. Olofson and Schmitzer-Torbert traveled with the senior Psychology majors to attend the 2014 Butler Undergraduate Research Conference.  A total of 23 students presented the results of their year-long senior capstone research projects, presenting either a 15 minute oral presentation, or in an hour-long poster session.

It was a busy day, with Fracisco Huerta delivering the first Wabash talk at 8:45am, and Brad Wise capping the end of the day at 4:30pm. The seniors all did an excellent job presenting their work, and it was satisfying to see the results of their capstone research: projects that were begun in the fall of 2013, if not earlier. The Butler URC is a diverse conference, with about 500 presentations were scheduled for the day, from 45 different college and universities.

After the conference, Profs. Gunther, Aubele-Futch and Rush met up with the group at Abyssinia on 38th street to celebrate with Ethiopian cuisine before returning to campus. It was a busy day, but a great way to cap the senior research projects.

And, it was great preparation for the last Psychology event of the year, the Psychology Research Symposium (Thursday, April 24th, 5pm in Detchon International Hall), where our seniors will present posters based on their capstone projects.  Following the poster session, we will have a keynote, delivered by Barron Hewetson ’08, who will be speaking about his career path from a psychology major at Wabash to pursuing graduate studies in biological engineering at Purdue.

Some photos from the day are posted on the Psychology Department Facebook Page:

 

And, the seniors who presented, and their presentation titles are all listed below:

Talks

  • Francisco HuertaCompetition and the Effects on Interpersonal Interactions
  • Shane Brown & James LaRoweHow the Number of Competitors Moderates Performance Between Avoidant and Approach Motivated Individuals
  • Alex HirschNarcissism and the Moderating Effect on Performance and Competition
  • Andy WalshDwell Time in Preschoolers During Nonverbal Theory of Mind Tasks
  • Bobby ThompsonMaternal Mind Mindedness, a Predictor of Theory of Mind
  • Connor O’RearThe Effects of Scaffolding on Children’s Dwell Time in an Implicit False Belief Locations Task
  • Kenton Armbruster & Patrick MarlattValidation of Self-Paced Slide Shows as an Implicit Measure of Theory of Mind
  • Spencer BurkThe Effects of Rivalry on Competitive Performance
  • Spencer PetersAlcohol and Impulsivity
  • Joel BeierAn Investigation into the Effects of Hangover on Memory
  • Fidel OjimbaThe Effects of Video Games on Stress Through Testosterone and Cortisol Activation
  • Trevor YoungEffects of PHA-543613 on the Rodent Anterior Cingulate Cortex: a Study in Rodent Schizophrenia
  • Jacob OwensHow Changing the Contrast of a Visual Stimulus Affects Neuronal Responses in Humans
  • Andrew FultonThe Effects of Local Administration of Flutamide and Fulvestrant in the Right Orbitofrontal Cortex on Impulsive Decision-Making in Male Rats
  • Nathan BryantThe Effects of the Serotonin Agonist Sumatriptan on Aggression in a Neutral Cage in Adult Male Rats
  • Brad WiseThe Impact of Estrogen on Risky Decision-Making in Female Rats

Posters

  • Jorge Diaz-Aguilar & Marc EscobedoFacebook and Narcissism
  • Jonathan AnleitnerA Parent Report to Measure Earlier Developments in Children’s Theory of Mind
  • Andrew GibsonThe Impact of Empathy in Physician-Patient Relationships on Malpractice Lawsuits
  • Rudy DuarteThe Relationship between Color Vision and Sleep

 

New publications: 2013 edition

Each year, the faculty in the Psychology department spend a considerable amount of time working on research projects, most of which are done in collaboration with students.

Stephen Prunier ’09 was the keynote speaker at the Psychology Research Celebration in April 2013

Through independent studies, Senior Capstone projects and summer internships, all of our psychology majors have an opportunity to conduct research in psychology, and many of those projects are presented at regional or national psychology/neuroscience conferences.  And, some of these projects will go on to be published in research journals.

Looking back at 2013, we had four research articles authored by faculty in the Psychology department c0me out in print.  Two of these articles had student co-authors (Stephen Prunier ’09 and Tanner Tritch ’10), who designed and conducted the research project as part of their Senior Capstone research. Links to the abstract for each article are given below, if you would like to read more about their research projects.

Bost, P.R., & Prunier, S.G. (2013). Rationality in conspiracy beliefs: The role of perceived motive. Psychological Reports: Sociocultural Issues in Psychology, 113, 1130-1140.

Montoya, R. M. & Horton, R. S. (2013). A meta-analytic investigation of the processes underlying the similarity-attraction effect. Journal of Social and Personality Relationships, 30, 64-94.

Horton, R. S., & Tritch, T. (2013) Clarifying the links between parenting and narcissism. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied.

Rush, R. A., & Clark, S. E. (2013) The Social Contagion of Correct and Incorrect Information in Memory. Memory.

Prof. Olofoson receives award

Earlier this month, Dr. Eric Olofson received the good news that he had earned tenure at Wabash College.  This week, we were happy to hear that he has been named the 2014-15 McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Research Scholar at Wabash!  The award provides for a semester of sabbatical support, which Prof. Olofson will use to to develop his work on the “The Science of Fatherhood.”

During his sabbatical in the 2014-15 academic year, Prof. Olofson will be researching a new book which reviews the empirical research on the effects of fathering on children. The work comes out of Prof. Olofson’s course, Fatherhood, and will aim to translate the research on fathers’ effects on children, and children’s effects on fathers, for a popular audience.