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Spring 2010 Colloquium Series

May 5th

Speaker: Steve Lee, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology, UCLA

Title: “Gene-environment interplay for youth antisocial behavior: Developmental perspectives”

Although genetic and environmental influences on complex phenotypes are widely accepted, developmental perspectives on child psychopathology have yet to be fully integrated into these models. I will present evidence on molecular genetic and environmental influences on child behavior disorders and the family context. These studies will collectively constitute a diverse range of methodological approaches including epidemiological samples, prospective longitudinal designs, and analogue paradigms. Finally, results will be synthesized within a developmental psychopathology framework with an explicit emphasis on different forms of geneenvironment interplay including gene-environment correlations, interactions, and epigenetic processes.



April 14th

Speaker: Biing-Juan Shen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology, Clinical Science, USC

Title: “Psychosocial Factors and the Development of Coronary Heart Disease ”

In the past few decades research has demonstrated that several psychosocial factors may contribute to the onset of
coronary heart disease (CHD), independent of the effects of demographic and biomedical risk factors. The speaker will briefly review the current status of the literature and present his recent research on anxiety and CHD, as well as some potential mechanisms, such as inflammation and impaired glucose metabolism, by which psychosocial factors may promote the pathogenesis of CHD.



March 17th

Speaker: Federico Sanabria, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Psychology, ASU

Title: “A cost-dependent frustration hypothesis of the Partial Reinforcement Extinction Effect”

The Partial Reinforcement Extinction Effect (PREE) is a ubiquitous regularity in animal and human behavior. It indicates that reinforced behavior generally persists longer following the discontinuation of partial rather than continuous reinforcement. Various factors are likely to contribute to the PREE, including the responsiveness to the unexpected absence of reinforcement (“frustration”), the memory of past outcomes, and the cost of producing the behavior. The extent of such contribution, the conditions that modulates it, and the interaction between these factors are yet unknown. I will present a first attempt to disambiguate such relations, based on data from one experiment with pigeons. I will discuss how these data support a cost dependent frustration hypothesis of PREE, and the implications of this hypothesis for the extinction of problematic
behavior such as drug seeking and taking.



March 3rd

Speaker: Ladan Shams, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Psychology, UCLA

Title: “Crossmodal Interactions in Perception and Learning”

Perception has been largely, and perceptual learning has been exclusively, studied in the context of one sensory modality in isolation. We have found that there are strong crossmodal interactions influencing the quality of visual perception and visual perceptual learning. These findings are particularly surprising because vision is generally considered the dominant sensory modality; self-contained and independent of other senses. Our behavioral and neuroimaging results show that visual perception can be strongly altered by sound, and this alteration can occur at early stages of processing, as early as primary visual cortex. Visual learning can also significantly benefit from correlated sound. Training with sound can accelerate the rate of visual learning and increase the magnitude of it, improving performance even in the absence of sound. These results suggest that there are mechanisms of learning that are tuned to processing multisensory information, and training in unisensory environments may engage mechanisms of learning which are suboptimal. I will then discuss the principles that may govern such crossmodal interactions. Comparing human observers’ multisensory perception with that of a Bayesian ideal observer, we have found that humans’ multisensory perception seems to follow Bayesian inference both in determining when to combine the crossmodal information and how to combine them. The former problem is a type of causal inference. Causal inference, which has been largely studied in the context of cognition, is in fact an imminent problem in perception. Our results suggest that the human perceptual system solves this problem in a manner consistent with a Bayesian observer performing causal inference. This model accounts for a wide range of phenomena including two important auditory-visual illusions, as well as counter intuitive phenomena such as partial integration and negative bias.



February 17th

Speaker: Keith A. Trujillo, Ph.D.; Professor of Psychology, CSU San Marcos

Title: “Special K: New findings on the behavioral pharmacology of ketamine and related drugs”

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that is receiving increased attention for both clinical and non-clinical reasons. In the clinic, this drug is increasingly being used for the treatment of pathological pain, and has recently been found to produce a potent and longlasting antidepressant effect. In addition, ketamine is being used in both humans and animals as a model of schizophrenia. Outside of the clinic, ketamine is used recreationally, especially at dance clubs and raves, where it is known as ‘Special K’. Our laboratory has obtained new and surprising results on the effects of ketamine in laboratory animals. Our findings are leading to a better understanding of ketamine, which may lead to better treatments for pain, major depression, schizophrenia and drug abuse.



February 3rd

Speakers: Kim-Phuong L. Vu, Ph.D.; Thomas Z. Strybel, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, CSULB

Title: Situation Awarenenss and Performance of Student versus Experienced Air Traffic Controllers

The Next Generation Airspace Transportation System (NextGen) is a transformation of the existing national airspace system in the US brought about by anticipated demands for air travel. NextGen transformations will include tools and automation that impact the roles and responsibilities of air traffic controllers (ATCs) and pilots.
NextGen concepts of operations and technologies are currently being developed. These concepts and technologies will need to be evaluated to assess their impact on operator workload and situation awareness. Moreover, due the high retirement rates of current air traffic controllers, NextGen will need to address differences in knowledge, skills, and abilities of new controllers who use technological devices in everyday life.
This talk will present a human-in-the-loop simulation designed to compare performance differences between students and experienced controllers in terms of performance, workload, and situation awareness.
Performance of the students did not differ from the controllers on many of the performance variables examined, a finding attributed to extensive sector-specific simulation training provided to the students. Both students and controllers indicated that workload was higher and situation awareness was lower in scenarios where the traffic density was high. However, the subjective workload and situation awareness scores indicate that students were more negatively affected by traffic density. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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