SPR Annual Meeting features newsworthy discoveries
The 44rd annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR) will be 44th SPR Annual Meeting to be held October 20-24, 2004, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The conference will be held at the LaFonda on the Plaza.
SPR's annual meeting is widely regarded as a leading forum for presentations on cutting-edge research on the connections between the physiological and psychological aspects of behavior. The program features original research in behavioral genetics, neuroscience, visual and audio perception, emotion, cognition, personality, human development, and psychopathology, to name just some of the areas that will be represented. Approximately 400 scientists are expected to attend.
The hallmark of this highly international, interdisciplinary meeting is research aimed at increasing our scientific understanding of such issues as: the physical symptoms of stress; gender differences; parent-child relationships; the origins and manifestations of mental illness; how people think, learn and remember; and the links between social and biological development, among other topics.
A Preconference Workshop Genetic Research in the Psychophysiological Laboratory will introduce participants to the main approaches in current molecular and behavioral genetic research with an emphasis on applications to psychophysiological research.
To further illustrate the range of issues that will be discussed and the relevance of this research to everyday life, several of this year's noteworthy presentations is provided below. The full program and other meeting information is available at http://www.sprweb.org. Please contact SPR if you are interested in receiving further information on these topics, or if you would like to interview the scientists who will be presenting their research. Abstracts of all presentations at the meeting are published in the August supplement of the journal Psychophysiology, available through the SPR office. Media representatives receive complimentary registration. To register, please contact the SPR office.
Founded in 1960, SPR is an international scientific society with worldwide membership. The purpose of the Society is to foster research on the interrelationships between the physiological and psychological aspects of behavior. To promote this purpose, the Society publishes scientific literature, including the journal Psychophysiology, and holds annual meetings for presentation and discussion of original theory and research, instrumentation and methodology, and new directions and standards in the field.
THE THOUGHT-TRANSLATION-DEVICE (TTD): STATUS AND FUTURE Niels, Birbaumer, University of Tübingen, Germany
A "Thought Translation Device" is making it possible for people completely paralyzed by Lou Gehrig's disease to communicate with the outside world. The disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, slowly robs patients of all motor control while leaving their minds intact. Patients often end up "locked in" to their bodies, a nightmarish state in which they are unable to control so much as an eye blink and, until recently, making it nearly impossible to communicate their thoughts or needs. The Thought-Translation-Device (TDD) uses a web-accessible computer system allowing patients to communicate directly with a computer by controlling their brain-wave patterns. Over the last eight years, 11 patients with ALS have learned to communicate directly to the computer by learning to control their brain-waves. Researchers have found that patients who learned to do this could then apply this skill to operate a computer program that allows patients to communicate. Patients who learned to communicate this way before becoming "locked-in," were still able to communicate once they had completely lost motor control.
PHYSICAL FITNESS AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION IN HEALTHY PREADOLESCENT CHILDREN Sarah M. Buck, Charles H. Hillman, Darla Castelli, University of Illinois
Can exercise make school kids smarter? Physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on thinking processes across the lifespan. This study examined the relationship between age and physical fitness on attention and memory processes indexed by a measure of brain waves and reaction time. Results showed that brain waves reflecting attention were greater for physically fit compared to sedentary children and in association with this physically fit children showed faster reaction times on a behavioral task. These findings underscore the importance of physical fitness programs for America's children and show that benefits of fitness program extend beyond health outcomes and may actually contribute to classroom performance.
ERP INDICES OF EMOTION REGULATION IN ANTISOCIAL CHILDREN: A TREATMENT OUTCOME STUDY Jim Stieben, University of Toronto Marc D. Lewis, University of Toronto Isabella Granic , Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto Connie Lamm, University of Toronto Philip D. Zelazo , University of Toronto
Antisocial children have difficulty controlling their feelings when they encounter frustrating events. These investigators have developed a paradigm that can distinguish antisocial from normal children on the basis of brain waves recorded during performance of a frustrating task. In this study they showed that a 14 week behavioral treatment program aimed at helping antisocial children who are aggressive and impulsive cope with frustration normalized the these children's brain waves. Underscoring the link between brain and behavior, these findings suggest that behavioral interventions for antisocial children may modify not only the antisocial behavior itself but even the way the brain processes frustrating information.
EFFECTS OF COCAINE ON ATTENTION SWITCHING WITHIN AND BETWEEN VERBAL AND VISUOSPATIAL WORKING MEMORY Andrea Kübler, University of Tübingen, Germany Kevin, Murphy Trinity College Dublin, Ireland Jaqueline Kaufman Medical College of Wisconsin Hugh Garavan, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Does cocaine use really affect the function of the brain? This study addressed this question by taking brain scans of cocaine users and normal control subjects while they performed a short-term memory task. Results showed that poor performance of cocaine users on the memory task was associated with below normal levels of activity in areas of the brain involved with paying attention and manipulating information in short-term memory. These findings document the detrimental effects of cocaine use on cognitive function and clarify the mechanism by which cocaine adversely affects the brain.
SENSATION SEEKING INFLUENCES ON ATTENTION, AROUSAL, AND MEMORY JUDGMENTS ABOUT "ACTION NEWS" TELEVISION NEWS STORIES Fox, Julia R., Indiana University Lee, Seungwhan, Indiana University Shin, Mija , Indiana University
Who likes to stay up to watch "Action News" and who would rather go to bed? Research has shown that high sensation-seekers prefer to watch movies and action adventure television programs, whereas low sensation seekers say they prefer news and magazine programs. In this study, researchers compared the physiological responses of high and low sensation seekers during viewing of action news television segments and found that high sensation seekers were more physiologically activated by, and paid more attention to, the action news clips than low sensation seekers. So if you find that you're an action news junkie it may just be that you're a sensation seekers too!
RACIAL STEREOTYPES AND BEHAVIOR: USING ERPS TO UNDERSTAND THE POLICE OFFICER'S DILEMMA Tiffany A. Ito, Joshua Correll, & Geoffrey R. Urland, University of Colorado
The importance of understanding how social information influences behavior is highlighted by recent, high profile shootings in which unarmed Black men were killed by police (e.g., Amadou Diallo, Timothy Thomas, Anthony Dwain Lee). Was race irrelevant to the police officers' decisions, or did personal and/or cultural stereotypes about Blacks contribute to the outcome? To examine this, investigators recorded electrical brain waves as participants completed a police training video game. Participants viewed pictures of Black and White men holding either guns or innocuous objects like cell phones and wallets and made quick decisions to 'shoot' armed individuals and 'not shoot' unarmed ones. Behaviorally, participants were faster and more accurate to 'shoot' armed Blacks than armed Whites. By contrast, they were faster to 'not shoot' unarmed Whites. When participants made incorrect shooting decisions, brain wave activity indicative of conflict detection was larger when the target was White than Black. The results show how racial stereotypes influence behavior, and how brain wave responses to behavioral errors can reflect stereotypes.
EXPRESSIVE WRITING AND THE REGULATION OF EMOTION OVER TIME James W. Pennebaker, University of Texas, Austin
Emotion regulation research typically focuses on emotional responses that last seconds or minutes. Many emotional events, however, linger for much longer. Linguistic analyses of emotional upheavals such as 9/11 find that naturally-occurring emotional responses can last for weeks or even months. What, if any, emotion regulation strategies can work for extended periods of time? A series of studies will be presented that suggest that expressive writing can affect people's long-term emotional state. Expressive writing encourages people to write about traumatic experiences for 3-5 days for 15-30 minutes per day. Compared to writing about superficial topics, expressive writing has been found to reduce autonomic and enhance selected immune activity in physically healthy ways. Improvements in other markers of physical and mental health have also been found. Recent studies suggest that expressive writing sets off a cascade of cognitive, emotional, biological, and social shifts in people's lives resulting in better physical health, improved social connections with others, and enhanced positive moods.