Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

Filter Dissertations By:

 
 
  • The Effect of Type of Feedback on Human Timing Performance

    Author:
    Kathleen Mangiapanello
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Nancy Hemmes
    Abstract:

    The purpose of the present experiment was to assess the effects of several of forms of feedback on timing performance across a range of durations (range: 5-25 s) under conditions in which participants were required to perform a concurrent task. Type of feedback was characterized in terms of precision, a term adopted to describe the quantitative relation between properties of a given feedback stimulus with properties of the timing response. Two models for describing the precision of feedback stimuli were proposed. In the present experiment, 4 different forms of feedback that varied in level of precision in relation to estimated time and stimulus duration were employed in a between-groups design. Analyses of the log-transformed data suggested that various forms of feedback differentially affected time judgments, indicating a relation between the between precision of feedback and time judgments; greater precision yielded more accurate judgments. One of the two proposed models of feedback precision was better supported by the data. According to that model, precision of feedback increases in direct relation to the number of feedback statements contained within the feedback stimulus.

  • Regional Brain Asymmetries During Verbal and Spatial Tasks in Depression with High or Low Trait Anxiety

    Author:
    Carlye Manna
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Joan Borod
    Abstract:

    Depression is a common disorder with various clinical presentations and is frequently comorbid with anxiety disorders. The relationship of regional brain asymmetry to mood disorders has been informed by neuropsychological models in which emotion is lateralized along positive/negative and approach/withdrawal dimensions and by clinical reports of affective disturbances following localized brain damage. Studies of regional hemispheric asymmetries point to relatively less activity in left frontal and right posterior regions in depression. Anxiety has also been associated with less left frontal, but increased right posterior activity, which has been related to arousal and may, in anxious-depressed individuals, offset the posterior asymmetry normally seen in depression. These asymmetries have been indexed by EEG or inferred through the use of lateralized auditory and visual tasks (e.g., dichotic listening and chimeric face tasks). However, associations between regional EEG activity and neurocognitive function in depression or anxiety remain unclear. A number of neurocognitive deficits have been associated with depression, including poorer spatial than verbal skills, supporting right posterior deficits. The present study used matched verbal (Word Finding) and spatial (Dot Localization) tasks to compare task-related alpha asymmetries in depressed patients grouped according to level of trait anxiety. EEG was recorded from depressed patients with high anxiety (n=14) or low anxiety (n=14) and 21 age- and education-matched healthy adults during the two tasks, and alpha power was averaged within each task. Task performance was also recorded. As predicted, the two patient groups exhibited opposite patterns of regional hemispheric alpha asymmetry. Greater right than left central-parietal activation was seen in the high-anxiety depressed group during the spatial task, whereas the verbal task elicited greater left than right frontal-central activation in the low-anxiety depressed group. Additionally, low-anxiety depressed patients and controls performed better on the verbal than the spatial task, whereas there was no asymmetry of performance within the high-anxiety depressed group. These results are consistent with Heller's two-dimensional model of depression and anxiety and highlight the sensitivity of task-related alpha in discriminating among subgroups of depressed patients differing in trait anxiety.

  • Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing: The Linguistic Analysis of a Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in a Soldier

    Author:
    Karen Marcovici
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Paul Wachtel
    Abstract:

    An attempt was made in this case study to assess the Referential Process, a set of phases that illustrate the process of how individuals place words upon conscious and unconscious non-verbal experiences, in an EMDR treatment of a veteran. The Referential Process was assessed by shifts in scores of three measures, Referential Activity (WRAD), Reflection, and Disfluency, as captured by a computerized linguistic program. The shifts among the measures were used to guide a qualitative description of the process in an effective treatment of a veteran with PTSD. This is the first study to examine levels of referential activity and the referential process in an EMDR treatment and more generally referential activity in any trauma focused treatment. Additionally, whereas most EMDR studies have focused upon one trauma incident, this study adds to the growing, but limited, literature of EMDR treatment in the military population with numerous trauma memories. With the two objectives in mind, the recorded sessions were transcribed and coded and a computerized linguistic and qualitative analysis was applied to 10 sessions of a 12 session EMDR treatment. The patient exhibited high referential activity as measured by WRAD levels, when compared to other psychotherapy samples, which indicates that he was immersed in the narrative for much of the treatment. The high WRAD levels may be attributed to the treatment task of EMDR. An examination of the high WRAD narratives suggests that the WRAD measure may require further examination in trauma populations to decipher if the speaker is immersed in or reliving the narrative. The interaction between WRAD and Reflection in the Referential Process appears important in trauma processing and may relate to the significance of distancing (versus reliving) fostered by the EMDR protocol. The qualitative analysis revealed shifts in the veteran's schema as depicted by changes in: the therapeutic relationship, his negative cognitions about himself and patient reports of relationship with others.

  • Concept Mediation in the Adult Language Learner

    Author:
    Maritza Marin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Laraine McDonough
    Abstract:

    The purpose of the present research was to investigate the time course of lexical and conceptual development in the adult language learner. A review of the literature indicates that there is still no definitive model that encapsulates all degrees of bilingualism, including the adult language learner. One model, the revised hierarchical model (RHM) proposed by Kroll and Stewart (1994) has a developmental component that attempts to explain why memory is represented differently in the less fluent (beginning) bilingual speaker. Since its inception the predictions of the RHM have been challenged. Three novel experiments were presented and their results reviewed with regards to the predictions of the RHM. Several factors (i.e., orthography, phonology) were identified as being either facilitative or inhibitory to successful language learning. In Experiment 1, using a bilingual Russian-English Stroop task, language dominance (i.e., greater usage) rather than language proficiency (i.e., knowledge) was found to be a better predictor of performance for the fluent native Russian speakers. Moreover, while lexical and conceptual development appeared to be asymmetrical for the native English speakers, the results were moderated by orthography and phonology for these novice (i.e., non-Russian) language learners. To further investigate the effects of orthography and phonology on language learning, new stimuli and a novel training paradigm were introduced in Experiments 2 and 3. In both experiments, a modified Russian-English (using Romanized transliterations instead of Cyrillic script) version of the Stroop color-word interference task was used. Native English speakers were trained with and then tested on transliterated Russian and English color words. Verbal responses in both English and Russian were required. Experiment 3 extended the findings of Experiment 2 by adding a nonverbal (i.e., key press) condition. Results from both Experiments 2 and 3 suggest that access to conceptual representations in a second language are available early on during the language learning process; moreover, the influence of orthography, phonology and the language-learning environment appear to be important determinants in language learning. Implications for models of visual word processing and bilingual memory are discussed as they relate to second language learning and the dynamic nature of bilingualism.

  • The Long Arm/Shadow of Moral Exclusion: Parole and Reentry for People Convicted of Violent Offenses in New York State

    Author:
    Carla Marquez
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Michelle Fine
    Abstract:

    Abstract The trio of studies that comprise this dissertation emerged during a critical time in New York State when parole denials, sentence length, time served, and time on parole all increased in the name of public safety. Of particular interest were several policies that restricted, or eliminated altogether, the chance of parole for people convicted of violent offenses. While public safety served as the basis for these policies, the findings of Study 1 suggest that people convicted of violent crimes actually have extremely low recidivism rates and the lowest of all crime categories. Furthermore, recidivism was more likely due to technical violations than new crimes; and, new crimes were overwhelmingly non-violent in nature. No significant difference was found for return rates before and after these polices were implemented. Therefore, the data do not support a public safety gain from these policies. Study 2, based on 34 interviews with men and women convicted of crimes of violence, reveals moral exclusion within the parole process inside prison, prison life, and the reentry process (including parole supervision after release). Further, this study suggests a model for studying, and understanding, moral exclusion/inclusion from the perspective of `the excluded,' across six categories: visibility, acceptance, liberty/justice, basic resources, financial resources, and emotional resources/support. Additionally, social science evidence of transformation, remorse, and responsibility are offered in terms of catalysts and hurdles to transformation; four ways that responsibility is `carried' by people convicted of violent crimes; how transformation, remorse, and responsibility are expressed; and finally, mechanisms that sustain all three inside and outside of prison. This study also offers three new terms to the language of moral exclusion that provide nuance to the process of exclusion: provisional belonging, moral exclusion by contamination, and vicarious inclusion. Finally, Study 3 sheds light on the decision-making process through interviews with five former parole board commissioners, offering insight into how decisions are made, the criteria considered, and how social science research can (and does) inform the entire process. Implications of the three studies, including recommendations for changes to policies and practices affecting people convicted of violent crimes, are discussed.

  • THE EFFECTS OF BEHAVIORAL-OBSERVATION TRAINING ON CORRECT IMPLEMENTATION OF GUIDED COMPLIANCE AND CHORE COMPLIANCE IN CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

    Author:
    Michael Marroquin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Peter Sturmey
    Abstract:

    Child noncompliance with caregiver requests is a problem for children with and without disabilities. Caregivers would benefit from learning effective procedures for increasing compliance. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a procedure that involved training three caregivers to observe and score video models, in order to learn to use a least-to-most prompting procedure (LTMPP) to teach their children to complete two chores. In instructions-only training, a trainer gave caregivers written instructions on how to implement the LTMPP. In behavioral-observation training, a trainer taught caregivers to observe and score the behavior of a video model demonstrating a LTMPP. After each form of training, the caregivers practiced using the LTMPP to teach their child to complete chores. Following behavioral-observation training, two of three caregivers increased correct use of the LTMPP and the children in both of these dyads demonstrated increased compliance relative to instruction-only training. For the third dyad, behavioral-observation training alone did not increase caregiver correct use of the LTMPP to mastery. For this dyad, remedial feedback increased caregiver correct use of the LTMPP and child compliance. A systematic demonstration of behavior change across all three caregivers did not occur resulting in a loss of experimental control, demonstrating that behavioral-observation training was effective for some but not all caregivers. Social validity measures indicated that caregivers found the need to increase chore compliance to be acceptable, the procedure to be acceptable, and effective.

  • Estradiol Decreases Inflammatory Responses by Dampening Glial Cell Activation

    Author:
    Tina Mathew
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Vanya Quinones-Jenab
    Abstract:

    Important sex differences in the development and perception of pain have been found by numerous epidemiological studies. This dimorphic response to pain is attributed to distinct endocrinological profiles in males and females. For example, in females, 17 beta-estradiol has been shown to diminish behavioral responses to nociception induced by inflammation in various pain models. However, estrogen's anti-hyperalgesic mechanism during the nervous system's inflammatory response is yet to be clearly defined. Glial cells, in particular microglia and astrocytes, have been shown to play an influential role in the establishment of pain states. The objective of this study is to determine if estrogen exerts its anti-hyperalgesic effects by reducing glial cell responses in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and/or immune cell responses at the injury site, and how this in turn influences intracellular signaling pathways that regulate pro-inflammatory events. To this end, the Cg model of inflammatory pain was used with eight-week old ovariectomized Sprague-Dawley female rats that were subcutaneously implanted with a silastic capsule containing either 20% 17 beta-estradiol or cholesterol (vehicle), and at varying time periods, they received an injection of either carrageenan or saline (vehicle). Hindpaw withdrawal latencies in response to different heat stimuli (4.5 mV, 4.9 mV, and 5.3 mV) were measured using the Hargreaves Paw Thermal Stimulator. The rats were then sacrificed, spinal cords were dissected, and immunohistochemistry was performed on paws to observe CD68 macrophage activity and on spinal cord sections to observe glial cell responses and IL-1 beta cytokine activity. Additionally, glial activation was correlation with levels of intracellular markers using Western blot analyses. Results reveal significantly dampened behavioral responses coupled with reduced glial activation in animals that received the estradiol treatment compared to animals that received the vehicle treatment. Additionally, estradiol treatment significantly reduced CD68 macrophage activity and IL-1 beta cytokine activity colocalized with glial activation. Correlations with intracellular markers did not reveal significant relationships with glial activity, but both the MAPK/ERK and JAK/STAT pathways were implicated in the estradiol-mediated inflammatory response in behavioral correlations. Taken together, our results suggest that estradiol's anti-inflammatory effects are mediated through the reduction of glial cell activity and consequent down-regulation of inflammatory mediators at the injury site and in the central nervous system.

  • Acoustic communication and possible use of echolocation by the hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)

    Author:
    Maria Maust-Mohl
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Diana Reiss
    Abstract:

    Recent genetic, molecular, and fossil evidence provide support of a hippo-whale clade and suggest their ancestors may have been semi-aquatic. This evidence raises questions about the evolution and adaptation of the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) to an aquatic environment. This study sought to examine the amphibious nature of the hippopotamus through investigations of their adaptations, communication, and sensory systems to determine possible connections with their close aquatic relatives, the cetaceans. Audio and video recordings were collected of male and female hippos at Disney's Animal Kingdom®, where the zoological context offered unique and controlled conditions to conduct observational and experimental studies. The goals of this research were to review the literature on the evolution and adaptations of hippos, which revealed adaptations that may represent shared derived characters from the common ancestor of hippos and cetaceans. Measurements and descriptions obtained from a recent dissection of an adult female hippo indicated that their vocal folds were similar in orientation and shape to baleen whales and the fold on their neck did not contain fatty tissue. Research investigating the acoustic and behavioral repertoires of hippos demonstrated three main categories of acoustic signals (burst of air, tonal, and pulsed) that were similar to those recorded from wild hippos. The acoustic parameters and behavioral contexts were reported and analyzed, demonstrating 11 distinct signal types within the three categories. The occurrence of acoustic and behavioral signals during social interactions suggests they mediate dominance and submissive interactions. Observational and experimental approaches used to investigate the potential use of echo-ranging by hippos provided three lines of evidence that support this hypothesis. First, two male hippos produced click trains in non-social contexts while searching for carrot bundles underwater. Second, click trains were associated with obtaining carrot bundles and most were produced prior to chewing. Third, the frequency parameters of clicks could be used to detect objects the size of the carrot bundles underwater. The click trains of hippos resembled clicks produced by young dolphins and may be used to detect larger objects, conspecifics, or for navigation in the murky waters they inhabit

  • Facial Expressivity in Parkinson's Disease: Using the Facial Action Coding System to Evaluate Duchenne Smiling Behavior and the Impact of Voice Treatment upon Global Expressivity Measures at 6-Month Follow-Up

    Author:
    David McCabe
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Joan Borod
    Abstract:

    Nonverbal signals contribute significantly to interpersonal communication. Facial expressivity, a major source of nonverbal information, can be compromised in Parkinson's disease (PD). The resulting disconnect between subjective feeling and objective facial affect can lead people to form negative and inaccurate impressions of people with PD with respect to their personality and intelligence. Previous research (Spielman, Borod, & Ramig, 2003) suggests that the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT LOUD; Ramig, Pawlas, et al., 1995) might benefit facial expressivity in PD. To better understand the nature and psychosocial impact of facial expression deficits, a two-component study was conducted. First, the long-term (6-month) efficacy of LSVT LOUD was compared to a second intervention (ARTIC), which targets articulation, in treating facial expressivity changes in PD. Global measures of facial expressivity were used to study 6-month follow-up data and build upon the pre-/post- findings of Dumer (2011). Second, smile behavior was examined at baseline and as a function of treatment condition and time. Smile frequency, intensity, and onset duration data were examined, and Duchenne smiles, commonly thought to reflect spontaneous or "felt" emotion, were distinguished from non-Duchenne smiles. Data were obtained from video footage of healthy controls (age matched; n = 11) and individuals with PD (n = 45). The PD group was comprised of individuals receiving no treatment (n = 17), individuals receiving an articulation-based treatment (Artic; n = 12), and individuals receiving LSVT LOUD (n = 16). Video footage was obtained at baseline, post-intervention, and 6-month follow-up. Facial expressions were coded using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) developed by Ekman and Friesen (1978). At baseline, Healthy Controls generally exhibited higher levels of facial expressivity as compared to individuals with PD, though gender effects may have contributed to these findings. At 6-month follow-up, global measures of facial expressivity did not significantly differ across treatment groups. Although the LSVT group increased in some measures of smile behavior, LSVT did not generally differ from other treatment conditions in degree of treatment impact over time, as assessed by a nonparametric analysis of change-scores.

  • To Be A Poet

    Author:
    Andrew McCarron
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Suzanne Ouellette
    Abstract:

    This qualitative dissertation will use narrative psychology and biographical methods to explore the role art plays in the processes of living. I will present biographical portraits and critical analyses of three living New York City poets identified with the second generation of the so-called New York School of Poetry. I am interested in (1) the factors surrounding the emergence of artistic identity; (2) the "grammar" of the work produced; and (3) the way of being in the world (Stein, 1926) that the work engenders. I am especially interested in gauging the degree to which writing a certain kind of poem (or kinds of poems) offers the writer psychological utility. Conceptually, I will draw upon the narrative work of Paul Ricoeur, and the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, who insisted that "to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life." It is hoped that this dissertation will offer research and applied psychology a framework for thinking about the role art can play in the experience of selfhood and identity.