Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

Filter Dissertations By:

 
 
  • The Effect of the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) on Emotional Experience, Social Engagement, and Facial Mobility in Parkinson's Disease

    Author:
    Michelle Lubomski
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Joan Borod
    Abstract:

    Research has shown that Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with emotional processing deficits. The impact of PD on communication and social interaction is gaining appreciation. Although successful treatments exist for motor signs in PD, few exist for the non-motor symptoms. This study examined the impact of a voice treatment (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment [LSVT; Ramig, Pawlas, & Countryman, 1995]) on facial mobility, social engagement, and emotional experience in PD. Fifty-three poser participants (39 PD; 14 demographically-matched healthy controls [HCs]) were studied. The PD posers were assigned to three groups: 12 received voice therapy (LSVT), 14 received articulation therapy (ARTIC; Spielman et al., 2012), and 13 received no therapy (Untreated). All posers were video-taped, before and after treatment, while producing emotional (happy, sad, and angry) and neutral monologues from the New York Emotion Battery (Borod, Welkowitz, & Obler, 1992). Monologues were divided into 15-second segments and evaluated by 18 naïve, yet trained and reliable, raters for facial mobility (amount of non-emotional facial movement) and social engagement (how much the rater wanted to interact with the poser). In addition, immediately following each emotional monologue, posers evaluated three aspects of their emotional experience: (1) intensity of their emotional feelings immediately following the monologue, (2) accuracy with which they carried out the monologue task, and (3) intensity of their emotional feelings throughout the monologue. Results revealed a treatment effect for LSVT, such that PD posers in this group demonstrated improvement in facial mobility, intensity of emotional feelings during the monologue, and immediate feelings after the monologues. Additionally, male posers in the LSVT group reported improved accuracy during the angry monologue following treatment. There were also gender differences; ratings for female posers on facial mobility and immediate emotional feelings were higher than those for male posers. There were no significant results for social engagement. The findings for facial mobility and emotional experience have clinical implications. Enhanced emotional experience may help improve mood disorders that are frequently co-morbid with PD. Further, LSVT might be useful in a broader range of psychiatric disorders. Finally, the findings regarding emotional experience provide exciting avenues for future research.

  • How Do Youth Make Sense of Interpersonal Interactions and Resolve Conflicts With Diverse Groups?

    Author:
    Luka Lucic
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Colette Daiute
    Abstract:

    Building upon recent work that defines cognitive development as a continuous process of sense-making situated within a cultural and historical context this dissertation explores how youth growing up in New York City develop relational-flexibility, defined as a context-sensitive extension of perspective-taking enacted in narrative and discourse in interactions with culturally diverse peers. The theoretical basis for this study is that children and youth develop through interpersonal interactions as they enter and attempt to make sense of new communities of minds broadly defined in this work as groups of people gathered together by participation in joint cultural activities. Seen from this perspective, contemporary youth - growing up in large and diverse American cities - develop in a socio-cultural context which is radically different from the socio-cultural context that shaped the development of youth 20, 30 or even 10 years ago. This difference is, I argue, produced by increasing diversity and by the phenomenon known as the `time-space compression' of their social life. The study examines how immigrant and U.S. born youth, developing alongside one another in an hyper-diverse context such as New York City, enact relational-flexibility as they construct projective narratives in order to make sense of interactions with diverse others in situations involving technologically mediated interpersonal interactions. Forty-four youth (ages 15-19) were involved in a quasi-experimental research condition and asked to answer three questions in response to a vignette depicting a slightly ambiguous text-messaging (SMS) interaction between two non-gendered individuals. Given the confluence of factors involved in increasing diversity and time-space compression of social life with plausible effects on cognitive development, the following questions are addressed in this study: How do youth growing up in an increasingly multicultural U.S. society, manage to make sense of their diverse interpersonal interactions? To what extent do they develop and enact relational flexibility in narratives and discourse with their culturally diverse peers? Narrative construction of projective writing in response to questions aimed to engage the process of sense-making was analyzed using a well-known socio-linguistic narrative analysis scheme and focused, in particular, on the evaluative function in narrative. Findings indicate that immigrant youth have a greater range of relational flexibility then do their U.S. born peers. Immigrant youth use the functions of causation, logic and hypothetical reasoning significantly more frequently when attempting to make sense of interactions with members of their own culture than they do when attempting to make sense of bi-cultural interpersonal interactions with their U.S. born peers. Conversely, significantly higher use of affective linguistic devices in the process of sense-making by U.S. born youth scaffolds the use of affective discourse by immigrant youth who, over time, adopt that discursive strategy while maintaining another in relation to other immigrant youth.

  • Attentional Blink and Top-Down Directives in Alzheimer's Disease and Aging

    Author:
    Jenny Ly
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Nancy Foldi
    Abstract:

    It is not well understood why patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) have difficulty attending to relevant information in their environment. Deficits in top-down processing (such as difficulty using prior instruction or category identification to direct attention) or limitations in coping with rapid temporal demands maybe possible explanations for this impairment. This study was design to address attention deficits using the attentional blink paradigm that can dissociate top-down directives from rapid temporal demands. The attentional blink occurs when two stimuli (S1 and S2) are presented in rapid succession and the accurate identification of the second stimulus (S2) is reduced if it is presented very shortly after the first (S1). The accuracy of S2 was compared in patients with AD, age-matched healthy controls and younger healthy controls. We hypothesized that aging would affect the ability to keep pace with rapid presentations, but patients with AD would have additional deficits in top-down directives. Results showed that younger and older controls could utilize top-down instructions to improve their accuracy, but older controls could only improve their performance with sufficient time between stimuli presentation. This confirmed our hypothesis of age-related slowing. Accuracy in the AD group was lower overall than either healthy groups but importantly, performance was the same whether or not a priori instructions were provided. This supports our hypothesis that patients with AD are not able to utilize top-down directives. Results are discussed in the context of theories related to limited attentional resources and inhibition.

  • Eat At Mom's: Critiquing and Rebuilding The Breastfeeding Paradigm

    Author:
    Catherine Ma
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Michelle Fine
    Abstract:

    For the past three decades breastfeeding has been globally promoted as the ideal method of infant feeding with policy makers defining breastfeeding and shaping the current breastfeeding paradigm with their recommendations that often leave out the voices of nursing women. We believe that the voices of mothers and their infants can be a valuable source of information to balance this discrepancy and offer suggestions to changing the current model of breastfeeding education to better match their specific needs. One hundred and twenty-seven first time mothers (FTM) committed to breastfeeding were recruited from popular online communities that focus on pregnancy and parenting for a multi-method study on breastfeeding views. Participants completed a series of quantitative measures consisting of the Iowa Infant Feeding Assessment Scale, Ways of Knowing Inventory, and Maternal Breastfeeding Evaluation Scale that focused on maternal infant feeding preference, learning styles, and maternal breastfeeding satisfaction. In addition, a variety of open-ended questions regarding prenatal breastfeeding beliefs and postpartum realities were used to identify changes that occurred as women negotiated from pregnancy to the early and late postpartum periods. Repeated measures ANOVA indicated significant differences in the silence and subjective dimensions of the Ways of Knowing Inventory indicating that as time passed, women were less likely to feel as though they had no voice in matters concerning breastfeeding their infants, F (2, 142) = 3.21, p < .05 and more apt to realize the value of their intuitive powers and believe that the truth could reside from within as opposed to relying on outside authorities, F (2, 142) = 4.98, p < .01. Critical discourse analysis revealed power struggles between FTMs and hospital personnel whose actions often undermined maternal efforts. Infant responses to feeding method were found to play a pivotal role in breastfeeding outcome suggesting a bilateral decision making process. Mothers also preferred individualized care as opposed to generalized instructions. The adequacy of the current breastfeeding paradigm will be discussed with suggestions on how to restructure current breastfeeding education to be more focused on the unique needs of women and their infants.

  • The Interpersonal Foundations of Anti-Atheist Prejudice

    Author:
    Michael Magee
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Curtis Hardin
    Abstract:

    Anti-atheist prejudice in the U.S. is socially accepted and rife--and not just because most Americans are religious. This research suggests that hostility toward atheists is related in part to protecting parental relationships. To the extent that they are established within parental relationships, shared reality theory implies that religious beliefs and associated attitudes will be psychologically defended to the extent that the parental relationships engaged are strong, healthy, and vital (Magee & Hardin, 2010; see also Hardin & Higgins, 1996). Three experiments examined the regulation of anti-atheist prejudice in the defense and protection of religious shared realities with parents, as implied by shared reality theory, and used parental attachment as an indicator of the strength and vitality of the parental relationship. The first two experiments explored parental attachment in the regulation of automatic anti-atheist prejudice during social interactions. In Experiment 1, automatic attitudes toward atheists were assessed with a subliminal sequential priming task in a social tuning paradigm in which the experimenter casually mentioned he was an atheist, or did not (e.g., Lowery et al., 2001). Interacting with an atheist reduced automatic anti-atheist prejudice among those with low parental attachment and, if anything, increased automatic anti-atheist prejudice among those with high parental attachment. Experiment 2 tested the causal role of parental attachment by experimentally manipulating parental attachment with an essay task and found complementary results: Interacting with an atheist reduced automatic anti-atheist prejudice among those with low manipulated parental attachment, increased automatic anti-atheist prejudice among those with high manipulated parental attachment, and did not affect automatic anti-atheist prejudice among those in a non-parental salience comparison condition. Experiment 3 manipulated the mere cognitive salience of the concept `atheist' (in the absence of relationship demands) via a subliminal prime word task. Subliminal exposure to the word atheist reduced explicit anti-atheist prejudice among those with low parental attachment and low parental religious shared reality, but not among those with high parental attachment or high parental religious shared reality. This research suggests that when religious people interact with atheists (or think about atheists) anti-atheist prejudice is activated and then regulated by parental attachment.

  • Fructose-Conditioned Flavor-Flavor Preferences in the Rat: Role of Dopaminergic Receptor Subtypes in the Nucleus Accumbens, Amygdala, and Medial Prefrontal Cortex

    Author:
    Danielle Malkusz
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Richard Bodnar
    Abstract:

    Fructose-Conditioned Flavor-Flavor Preferences in the Rat: Role of Dopaminergic Receptor Subtypes in the Nucleus Accumbens, Amygdala, and Medial Prefrontal Cortex by Danielle C. Malkusz Systemic administration of dopamine (DA) D1 (SCH23390) and D2 (raclopride) antagonists blocked both acquisition and expression of fructose-conditioned flavor preferences (CFP). It is unclear what brain circuits are involved in mediating these effects. The present study investigated DA signaling within the nucleus accumbens shell (NAC), amygdala (AMY) and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in the acquisition and expression of fructose-CFP. In Experiment 1, separate groups of rats were injected daily in the NAC or AMY with saline, SCH23390 (24 nmol) or raclopride (24 nmol) prior to training sessions with a flavor (CS+) mixed with 8% fructose and 0.2% saccharin (CS+/F) and a different flavor (CS-) mixed with only 0.2% saccharin. In two-bottle choice tests with the CS+ or CS- flavor presented in a 0.2% saccharin solution, only rats injected with raclopride in the AMY failed to acquire a CS+ preference (45-54%). In Experiment 2, new rats were identically trained, but saline, SCH23390 and raclopride were injected in the mPFC. In subsequent two-bottle choice tests, SCH23390 -and raclopride -treated rats failed to exhibit a CS+ preference (50-56%). In Experiment 3, new rats were trained with CS+/F and CS-without injections. Subsequent two-bottle choice tests were then conducted following bilateral injections of SCH23390 or raclopride in the mPFC at total doses of 12, 24 and 48 nmol. Expression of the CS+ preference failed to be affected by either antagonist, indicating that the mPFC is not involved in the maintenance of this preference. These data indicate that the acquisition of fructose-CFP is dependent on DA signaling in the mPFC and AMY.

  • EXPLORING THE ILLUSION OF TRANSPARENCY WHEN LYING AND TRUTH-TELLING: THE IMPACT OF AGE, SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS, AND FRAMING

    Author:
    Jason Mandelbaum
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Angela Crossman
    Abstract:

    Individuals often overestimate the ability of others to accurately determine their internal states. This illusion of transparency has been shown to manifest itself in everyday scenarios, including when people are asked to estimate if others can tell when they are lying. Yet it has not been observed when truth-telling, nor investigated developmentally. The current experiments tested for an illusion of transparency when individuals were truth-telling and lying and investigated how a participant's age, dispositional self-consciousness, situational self-awareness and how questions were framed impacted the strength and prevalence of the illusion of transparency. In Experiments 1 and 2, children and adolescents (ages 9 to 17; n = 34) and undergraduates (n = 91) participated in a lie/truth-telling game, during which participants made true and false statements corresponding to past real-life events. Half of their statements were mock video recorded to alter their state of situational, public self-awareness. Participants estimated the transparency of their statements while other players judged the veracity. When estimating transparency, participants were asked to determine the number of other players who thought they were telling the truth or the number of others who thought they were lying. In Experiment 3, 135 undergraduate students played the same lie/truth-telling game, but the situational self-awareness manipulation varied between subjects and a mirror condition was added to investigate situational, private self-awareness. Results from the studies provide evidence that an illusion of transparency exists among truth-tellers. Participants in all three studies overestimated the number of others who would believe them when telling the truth. However, an illusion of transparency was not observed when participants were lying. There was a consistent interaction between statement veracity and framing. When telling the truth, participant's predicted more transparency when questioned with the truth frame than the lie frame, but when lying participant's predicted more transparency when questioned with the lie frame. Differences in the illusion were not impacted by the grade level of participants, likely due to an absence of developmental differences in self-consciousness. Child and adolescent participants experienced a greater illusion of transparency when self-aware; however this did not replicate with adults. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

  • How Childhood Obesity Predicts Academic Achievement: A Longitudinal Study

    Author:
    Rachel Manes
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Tracey Revenson
    Abstract:

    Improvements in academic achievement have been linked to childhood obesity indices such as greater physical activity (PA) and lower Body Mass Index (BMI). Yet, little is known about the mechanisms through which childhood obesity indices predict academic achievement. The present study tested whether the influence of PA and BMI on academic achievement is mediated by several cognitive and emotional processes that have been shown in past studies to have independent effects: executive functioning, concentration, and internalizing symptoms. This study also tested the antecedent role of SES on indices of childhood obesity and academic achievement. Data from the 1991-2007 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development were used to analyze a sample of over 1000 U.S. children from ages 9 to 15. Path model parameters were estimated using Linear Mixed Models. The hypothesized meditational model was supported by childhood obesity indices predicting both reading and math achievement through cognitive processes (executive functioning and concentration) but not emotional processes (internalizing symptoms). Specifically, greater PA led to lower BMI which, in turn, predicted higher executive functioning performance, higher concentration levels, and then improved academic achievement in reading and math from ages 9 to 15. The results of this study may inform the development of school-based interventions and policy approaches to prevent childhood obesity.

  • 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.