Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • THE NEURODEVELOPMENT OF BASIC SENSORY PROCESSING AND INTEGRATION IN AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

    Author:
    Alice Brandwein
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Sophie Molholm
    Abstract:

    This thesis presents three studies that together explore the neurophysiological basis for the sensory processing and integration abnormalities that have been observed in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) since the disorder was first described over half a century ago. In designing these studies we seek to fill a hole that currently exists in the research community‟s knowledge of the neurodevelopment of basic multisensory integration -- both in children with autism and as well as in those with typical development. The first study applied event related potentials (ERPs) and behavioral measures of multisensory integration to a large group of healthy participants ranging in age from 7 to 29 years, with the goal of detailing the developmental trajectory of basic audiovisual integration in the brain. Our behavioral results revealed a gradual fine-tuning of multisensory facilitation of reaction time which reached mature levels by about 14 years of age. A similarly protracted period of maturation was seen in the brain processes thought to underlie to multisensory integration. Using the results of this cross-sectional study as a guide, the second study employed a between groups design to assess differences in the neural activity and behavioral facilitation associated with integrating basic audiovisual stimuli in groups of children and adolescents with ASD and typical development (aged 7-16 years). Deficits in basic audiovisual integration were seen at the earliest stages of cortical sensory processing in the ASD groups. In the concluding study we assessed whether neurophysiological measures of sensory processing and integration predict autistic symptom severity and parent-reported visual/auditory sensitivities. The data revealed that a combination of neural indices of auditory and visual processing and integration were predictive of severity of autistic symptoms in a group of children and adolescents with ASD. A particularly robust relationship was observed between severity of autism and the integrity of basic auditory processing and audiovisual integration. In contrast, our physiological indices did not predict visual/auditory sensitivities as assessed by parent responses on a questionnaire.

  • Woman's Work: Ruth Maleczech as Mabou Mines Performer, Director & Manager

    Author:
    Jessica Brater
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Theatre
    Advisor:
    Marvin Carlson
    Abstract:

    Abstract WOMAN'S WORK: RUTH MALECZECH AS MABOU MINES PERFORMER, DIRECTOR & MANAGER by Jessica Brater Adviser: Professor Marvin Carlson This project identifies key elements of Ruth Maleczech's body of work, tracing a central and enduring point of view of the American avant-garde theatre company Mabou Mines. As co-artistic director, Maleczech created an original environment enabling her to exert control over her own artistic choices. This freedom is particularly rare for a performer, as is the ease with which Maleczech moves among the various responsibilities of performing, directing, and producing. Relying upon Mabou Mines's emphasis on the development of new work and its human resources and institutional structure, Maleczech uses the company as the context for creating a cohesive body of work with a highly individualized artistic point of view. By considering Maleczech's production choices thematically, and by juxtaposing original interviews with published reviews, production archives and critical analysis, I establish patterns in Maleczech's body of work highlighting the inter-relationship between process and product. Chapter One focuses on Maleczech's performances in Beckett's Happy Days and Franz Kroetz's Through the Leaves, revealing her interest in making ordinary women important onstage. Chapter Two examines how Maleczech uses an historical angle in the productions Dead End Kids, Lucia's Chapters of Coming Forth by Day and Bélen to experiment with representations of women onstage. Chapter Three juxtaposes two productions about fathers, Hajj and Mabou Mines's Lear, demonstrating Maleczech's interest in destabilizing traditional notions of the father figure, and by extension, all family roles. Chapter Four investigates Lee Breuer's Shaggy Dog, Red Beads, and Summa Dramatica alongside Beckett's Imagination Dead Imagine, productions on which Maleczech collaborated with her daughter, Clove Galilee, to examine Maleczech's challenges to notions of familial and artistic hierarchy. The conclusion briefly traces Imagining Imaginary Invalid and includes views of her longterm collaborators as they ponder the significance of her work. I argue that Maleczech creates a distinct point of view in her work with Mabou Mines and in her position as a feminist, downtown New York theatre artist. By focusing her choice of material on unexpected representations of women and by consistently taking artistic and production risks she has promoted and pursued radical and revealing artistic choices.

  • Components of Body Ego Transformation linked to Female Homoeroticism: An Exploratory and Qualitative Study

    Author:
    Lisa Braun
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Elliot Jurist
    Abstract:

    This is a qualitative, exploratory study of body ego transformation. Eight components of transformation were arrived at from this researcher's own experience, observations of other females, and identified in psychoanalytic literature. These were then explored in the projective and narrative responses from lesbian, bisexual and queer identified women about their female homoerotic experiences. Nine women ages 25-35 were recruited and interviewed in two sessions using phenomenological methodology. An original projective and semi-structured interview was created to elicit participants' unencumbered responses about their experiences of homoeroticism, so as to minimize the effect of external expectations that might color them. Participants were asked to respond to prompts about erotic parts of their body in a projective format. Subsequently, they were asked to describe their homoerotic thoughts, fantasies, and behaviors across their lifespan. Two women's interviews were chosen based on the presence of substantive, multilayered responses and narrative construction, evidence of a transformation of body ego, and their ability to shed light on the quality of other participant's transformations. These two participants' responses were analyzed in-depth. Speculated components of transformation were identified using psychoanalytic understandings of metaphor and basic principles of Rorschach Inkblot Methodology (RIM). All eight components were cited varying in frequency, intensity, and significance. Components were employed in common and unique ways. The variations in how component were used seemed to reflect participants' life experiences and personality style. Although this was a small sample, the findings indicated that eroticism is a regressive experience from which transformation of body ego can occur.

  • Fashioning Performance Careers in New York, 1869-1899: How Female Performers Negotiated Changing Ideas of Womanhood

    Author:
    Celia Braxton
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Theatre
    Advisor:
    Judith Milhous
    Abstract:

    Although they worked outside the home, the majority of nineteenth-century female performers built careers within, not in spite of, domestic ideology. Their choice contrasts with those of their more transgressive sisters, like Sarah Bernhardt, who flouted the ideal. This study of over seven hundred women who performed in New York City during the last thirty years of the nineteenth century examines how they created careers and public characters by combining values found within domestic ideology with changes in the notions of womanhood brought about by the experience of the Civil War. Analysis of the database for this project reveals that after the war, there was an influx into the theatrical profession of young women from the middle classes. This changed the culture of the theatrical field, as well as the ways women from theatrical backgrounds presented themselves. The reasons women gave for entering theatre also changed, from redemptive reasons to reasons of choice. But the collective experiences of the Civil War, combined with the need for many women to support themselves, also contributed to a new spirit of female independence exemplified by the assumption of independent agency by female stars. Cultural discomfort with the idea of independent businesswomen was played out in the press, as theatrical managers attempted to convince female performers of the folly of managing their own careers. As a group, female performers became a lightning rod for discussion of the growing independence of women generally. The dissertation concludes by examining the careers of three lesser known performers of the late nineteenth-century who used domestic ideology to their career advantage: Georgia Cayvan, who grew from working-class roots to become the leading lady of the Lycuem Theatre; Louisa Eldridge, who used the ideals of domestic womanhood to create a public character that complimented her career as character actress; and Fanny Davenport, producer and director of one of the largest theatrical combination companies of the last twenty years of the nineteenth century.

  • THE USE OF LE BY L1 CHINESE SPEAKERS AND THE ACQUISITION OF LE BY L2 CHINESE LEARNERS

    Author:
    CHI CHEN BREDECHE
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Linguistics
    Advisor:
    GITA MARTOHARDJONO
    Abstract:

    The perfective marker V-le is claimed to be one of the most problematic items in the acquisition of L2 Chinese, perhaps because no unified and comprehensive treatment of it exists in the literature. Although much has been written on this topic, the semantic and pragmatic functions of V-le have remained elusive. While linguists and grammarians all agree that V-le performs multiple functions, there has been no consensus on its meaning and usage. Adding to this complex situation is that V-le is not always syntactically obligatory in Mandarin Chinese. Even though scholars are well aware of the phenomenon of "optionality" with Chinese aspect markers, disagreement and ambiguity prevail. Smith (1997) claims that V-le, like other aspect markers in Chinese, is always syntactically optional. Li and Thompson (1981) claim that the use of V-le depends largely on the speaker's viewpoint as to whether an event is "bounded" or not. Both seem to suggest global optionality. In contrast, textbooks written for Chinese L2 learners discuss V-le as obligatory in various different contexts. Having found no established and unified treatment of V-le that reflects native speaker's knowledge regarding its obligatory and optional use, we conducted a larger survey of 482 native speakers, 316 adolescents and 166 adults, in an attempt to capture some generalizations on the obligatory and optional use of -le in various contexts. Our results show a range of frequencies, from very high (98% to 100%) in the context of accomplishment predicates and activity predicates as the first event in a sequence; to high (67% to 84%) in the context of achievement predicates; to variable (31% to 64%) in the context of resultative verb complements. We argue that this pattern of V-le suppliance can be derived by positing a hierarchy of boundedness in the predicate and that it follows a redundancy principle in discourse. The results from learners' data suggest that they acquired the knowledge of the perfective marking in the obligatory context after 300-400 hours of classroom instruction. They consistently used -le with accomplishment verbs and activity verbs as the first event in a sequence. They also consistently omitted -le with resultative verb complements, a hint of their implicit understanding of the semantic cues given by the predicates. In sum, the learners had a good understanding of the semantic properties of the verb class and had acquired a good, but not yet native-like, knowledge about the interaction between the perfective marker V-le and the lexical and semantic properties of different verb type categories.

  • The role of Mdm2 in estrogen-mediated breast cancer cell proliferation

    Author:
    Angelika Brekman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Biochemistry
    Advisor:
    Jill Bargonetti
    Abstract:

    Estrogen signaling is important in breast cancer development and progression. Mdm2, a negative regulator of the p53 tumor suppressor, is often over-expressed in estrogen receptor positive breast cancers. To study the role of Mdm2 in the estrogen-mediated breast cancer cell proliferation, we examined the effect of estrogen on the p53-Mdm2 pathway in estrogen receptor positive and p53 wild-type MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Estrogen-mediated increase in cell proliferation correlated with increased Mdm2, but no concomitant decrease in the p53 protein level. Blocking Mdm2 expression with inducible shRNA inhibited estrogen-mediated cell proliferation and colony formation in soft agar. Mdm2 knockdown in the presence of estrogen increased p21 and the percent of cells in the G1 phase. Interestingly, knockdown of p53 had no effect on the estrogen-mediated cell proliferation. Estrogen also up-regulated the Mdm2 protein levels in cells exposed to the DNA damaging agent, etoposide, and the Mdm2 inhibitor, Nutlin-3. In turn, estrogen inhibited etoposide- and Nutlin-3-induced transcription of puma, a pro-apoptotic p53 target gene, without changing the p53 protein levels or p53 recruitment to the chromatin. The decrease in puma gene transcription correlated with a decrease in Puma protein and an increase in Bcl-2 protein, an anti-apoptotic estrogen receptor target. Overall, our findings suggest that estrogen signals to an Mdm2-mediated pathway to provoke cell proliferation and that this pathway is associated with inhibition of the G1 checkpoint.

  • For Right and Might: The Militarization of the Cold War and the Remaking of American Democracy

    Author:
    Michael Brenes
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Robert Johnson
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines how Cold War defense spending shaped the evolution of American political culture and public policy from the 1940s until the 1990s. It argues that the Cold War economy contributed to the realignment of American politics in the postwar era. The fight against global communism abroad altered the structure, purpose, and public perception of the federal government following World War II, but also subsidized corporations, suburban communities, and individuals affected by defense spending. The militarization of the Cold War therefore created various dependents of America's military and defense apparatus that continuously pressed for more defense spending during the Cold War, even if increases in the military budget were strategically and economically gratuitous. Americans in communities dependent upon defense contractors for employment and economic growth lobbied their political representatives to allocate more defense contracts to their towns, while defense companies and contractors formed alliances with activists, politicians, defense workers, and labor unions to ensure their profitability in the face of cuts to the defense budget. The combination of these forces created a unique "Cold War coalition" that worked to keep the defense economy active in shaping the domestic and foreign policies of the United States. As the constitutive elements of the defense economy were threatened with defense cuts and a thaw in the Cold War after the 1960s, they increasingly gravitated toward political figures and officials who promised continued defense spending. After the economic crisis of the 1970s, residents of such "Cold War communities" saw job losses to inflation and stagnation, but also to a drawdown in the Vietnam War and the era of détente. By the end of the Cold War, communities reliant upon the Department of Defense for employment supported "conservative" proposals for the reduction of federal taxes and government influence in regulating local economies, while also campaigning for additional federal defense contracts to keep local economies afloat. By exploring the realignment of American politics through the context of global events--and their impact on local politics--this dissertation considers how the personal livelihoods and political prejudices of Americans shaped both national politics and foreign affairs.

  • Ideology and Decision Making in School-Based Counseling

    Author:
    Michelle Brenner
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    The present study built on the design and results from the pilot study in an attempt to explore the relationship between psychologists' personal ideologies and the decisions they make in school-based counseling. Of particular interest was whether higher levels of self-reported ideology were related to support of relevant school policies. Participants included 166 psychologists who responded to an online survey that included questions related to personal and professional ideologies, attitudes toward school policies, training and preparedness in four areas of interest, and hypothetical scenarios. Consistency among responses in areas including theoretical orientation, political party, and training and preparedness in ethics and multicultural issues limited the analyses that could be performed to compare different populations. Correlation data indicated that there was no relationship between those who reported to be religious and those who reported that they were not religious, though slight differences were noted qualitatively. There was also no difference between responses of individuals who had not taken a class but felt prepared as compared with responses of the rest of the population. Correlation data also indicated some associations between the school policies related to liberal/conservative political views and the vignette designed toward that ideology.

  • The Effects of Thyroid Hormone Insufficiency During Development On Cortical Morphology And The Behavioural Manifestations

    Author:
    Susan Briffa-Mirabella
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Biology
    Advisor:
    Carl Dobkin
    Abstract:

    The central hypothesis of this work is that developmental thyroid insufficiency impacts the development of the rat cerebral cortex by altering cortical volume and the number of cortical neurons. In addition, as these neuroanatomical changes caused by milder forms of developmental hypothyroidism or hypothyroxinemia may have both immediate and long term consequences on certain aspects of behaviour, the investigation sought to determine if the alterations in morphology, including the change in relative cortical volume, and the change in the number of cortical neurons in the rat brain, led to behavioral manifestations. Hypothyroidism was induced by the administration of graded levels of the antithyroid agent propylthiouracil (PTU) to suppress thyroid hormone production. The number of neurons was estimated, using unbiased sampling techniques, to determine whether the cellular composition of cortex was altered following developmental TH insufficiency. To determine if these cortical alterations led to changes in behaviour, a battery of behavioural tests were performed which included maternal retrieval (PND 4), maternal separation anxiety (PND 6), Barnes maze (PND 48 and PND 86), social interaction social approach (PND 48-50), and open field (PND 46). Taken together, the results presented here support the hypothesis that developmental hypothyroidism and hypothyroxinemia induced by chemical thyroid hormone suppression (PTU) cause alterations in the morphology of the cerebral cortex by altering cortical volume and changing the number of cortical neurons in the rat brain. Furthermore these alterations ultimately lead to changes in certain aspects of behaviour. These results have important clinical relevance because several studies suggest that developmental disabilities ranging from mild dyslexia to severe mental retardation can be attributed to alterations in cortical morphology resulting from abnormal cortical development.

  • Hypertonic Lower Extremities in Infants: Correlation to Motor Function Scores at Thirteen Months of Age

    Author:
    Susan Brillhart
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Nursing Studies
    Advisor:
    Martha Whetsell
    Abstract:

    Exploring a large data set, hypertonicity of the lower extremities has been incidentally identified as occurring in one out of every five infants, whether term or preterm. This retrospective, longitudinal, descriptive, quantitative study examined data from 463 functionally and structurally normal infants and identified infants that were considered to be hypertonic at either hospital discharge and at one month of corrected gestational age to determine what their motor capabilities were at 13 months of age. Understanding the correlation will assist in determining whether early intervention is indicated for these infants. Multiple statistical analyses revealed no correlation between hypertonicity as a young infant and the Bayley-II motor function score at 13 months of age. The Roy Adaptation model was used as the conceptual framework of the study and ordinal regression was utilized to analyze the data.