Newsletter Section

Research

New Faculty Faces

Image of Sapna Cheryan, Cheryl Kaiser, Ione Fine, Geoffrey Boynton, Janxin Leu, Kevin King
Sapna Cheryan, Cheryl Kaiser,
Ione Fine, Geoffrey Boynton,
Janxin Leu, and Kevin King

Sapna Cheryan joined the Social/Personality area in 2007 after receiving a Ph.D. from Stanford University.Her research interests include identity, stereotypes and prejudice. She is currently researching: 1) the strategies that people use to prove their group memberships to others, and 2) the power of stereotypical environments to determine who participates in them. Sapna received her Ph.D. in social psychology from Stanford University in June of 2007.

Cheryl Kaiser earned her Ph.D. from the University of Vermont in 2001 and joined the Social/Personality area in fall of 2006. Prior to joining us, she was postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara and an assistant professor at Michigan State University. Her research interests include stigma, prejudice, self, identity, and stress and coping. She is also interested in the application of this research for law and legal processes. Dr. Kaiser’s lab has received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation, and she serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of

Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and the British Journal of Social Psychology.

Ione Fine joined the Cognition/Perception area in 2007 from a faculty position at USC, after training at UCSD, University of Rochester, and Oxford University. Her research focuses on the role of experience in sensory processing. Past work includes measuring performance in patients who have been implanted with electrode retinal prostheses and examining learning in visual tasks in normally sighted individuals. Currently her research focuses on examining the effects of long term blindness on the brain (and the effects of sight recovery) using a combination of behavioral measurements and magnetic resonance imaging.

Geoffrey Boynton joined the Cognition/Perception area in 2007 from a faculty position at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He uses a combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioral measurements to study the relationship between neuronal responses in the visual cortex of the brain and our conscious visual experience. A major goal of his research is to understand where and how brain responses to unattended stimuli are suppressed. He is also interested in the relationship between performance on perceptual tasks and the topology of the cortical areas that represent the stimuli for those tasks. For example, he has recently shown, using fMRI, that people with better visual acuity have, on average, a larger area of the brain devoted to vision.

Janxin Leu joined the Social/Personality area in 2006, after postdoctoral work at Stanford University and a 2004 Ph.D from University of Michigan. As a cultural psychologist, she is interested in how the mind and culture are mutually constituted. She examines the relationship between culture, cognition, and emotion among US racial/ethnic minority groups, and in Japan and China. Her data suggest that the pursuit of feeling good in many US contexts supports representing pleasant and unpleasant feelings as opposites. In contrast, the pursuit of

emotion moderation in many East Asian contexts supports the co-occurrence of pleasant and unpleasant feelings. Dr. Leu uses these constructs to help explain the decline in mental health from first to second generation immigrants.

Kevin King joined the Child Clinical area in 2007 after receiving a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. His research focuses on how adolescents come to use alcohol and drugs and how that use progresses into substance abuse and dependence. He is particularly interested in the mechanisms by which these processes occur, specifically how family, social and personality factors inter-relate to produce risk for substance use and disorder. n

Neuroscience and UW Psychology

Image of brain ScanUW Psychology has long been an international leader in neuroscience research. Our faculty and graduate students have uncovered cellular processes of learning and memory, described important mechanisms of auditory and visual information processing, elucidated the role of brain dopamine systems in motivation, and discovered mechanisms of neural plasticity that give rise to adaptive behavior. In addition, UW Psychology has a 50-year tradition of being a key contributor to both undergraduate and graduate programs that provide interdisciplinary training in the neurosciences across departments spanning the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine.

Today, our faculty and students are at the forefront of applying neuroscience methods to all aspects of human behavior. We use techniques that range from functional imaging of brain activity by means of fMRI to recordings of neural electrical potentials on the scalp by EEG, to correlation of behavior and perception with underlying neural anatomy and physiology. We apply them to the study of areas as diverse as child development, visual and auditory perception, language processing, social inference, and child and adult psychopathology. Here are some examples.

COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE

Image of Geoffrey BoyntonGeoffrey Boynton, Associate Professor, studies the neural bases of visual perception and attention and has conducted key research to demonstrate the validity of fMRI as a research tool. He uses fMRI to measure brain responses within the visual cortex of humans while they view various visual stimuli. Among many other important findings, he and his collaborators have demonstrated that those with developmental dyslexia show reduced fMRI responses in a motion processing area of the brain, called area MT+, and that these differences correlate with behavioral measurements. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that developmental dyslexia is associated with a deficit in the magnocellular pathway of the visual system.

Image of Steve BuckSteven Buck, Professor and Chair, studies human vision and uses perceptual and psychophysical measures from human observers to reveal the processing pathways of neural signals in the retina. He is particularly interested in how neural signals from rod and cone photoreceptors influence human color vision. His approach involves determining how our color perceptions reveal the possible visual neural pathways, how well the known neural anatomy and physiology can explain our perceptions, and what aspects remain to be explained.

Image of Ione FineIone Fine, Assistant Professor, also studies the neural bases of visual perception and the effects of long-term visual deprivation. She studies the perceptual changes caused by long-term visual deficit and uses fMRI to relate these changes to the effects on the human visual cortex. These studies provide insights into changes in neural processing that occur as a result of blindness and reveal, for example, how regions of brain that normally process vision are co-opted by the auditory and tactile senses. The studies also reveal which perceptual abilities and neural functions can recover when sight is restored.

Image of Scott MurrayScott Murray, Assistant Professor, uses a combination of behavioral and fMRI techniques to understand the neural mechanisms of object recognition and other high-level visual processes. His research, some of which was published recently in the prestigious journal Nature Neuroscience, uncovers mechanisms through which the human visual system uses ambiguous two-dimensional retinal information to infer unambiguous three-dimensional structure in the environment. His work has also provided surprising new results about cortical neural processing, showing that feedback from higher-level perceptions, such as apparent size, can change the representation of visual information at the very first cortical area for visual processing.

Image of Lee OsterhoutLee Osterhout, Professor, uses fMRI and event-related potentials, a form of EEG measurement, to examine the cognitive and neurophysiological underpinnings of human language. His pioneering work has identified brain-wave signals associated with the separate analyses of the meaning (semantics) and structure (syntax) of language. Among other findings, his research has revealed increased gray matter density in the brains of English-speaking university students following a nine-week Spanish class. This result adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that structural changes in the brain can occur after amazingly brief periods of instruction or practice.

SOCIAL NEUROSCIENCE

Image of Sapna CheryanSapna Cheryan, Assistant Professor, is a social psychologist whose interests include identity, stereotypes and prejudice. She is currently working with Dr. Brian Knutson at Stanford University to identify facial characteristics used to infer personality and the neural mechanisms that support these inferences using fMRI techniques. The goal of this research is to identify which structures in the brain are responsible for encoding facial features relevant to emotion and linking them to interpersonal inferences.

DEVELOPMENTAL NEUROSCIENCE

Image of Andrew MeltzoffAndrew Meltzoff, Job and Gertrud Tamaki Professor and co-director of the UW Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, an interdisciplinary center dedicated to discovering fundamental principles of human learning, has been using imaging technology (EEG, fMRI) to elucidate mechanisms of cognitive development in children and the neural basis of empathy and compassion for others in adults. He is also part of a new grant proposal seeking to bring a new, powerful, multi-million dollar brain imaging device to campus—one called magnetoencephalography – which can safely measure neural reactions in very young children.

Image of Jessica SommervilleJessica Sommerville, Assistant Professor, among other interests uses electroencephalography (EEG) to study commonalities between language processing and action processing. The research may be relevent to developmental disorders in which both abilities are impaired, such as autisim. In future work she plans to investigate infants’ event-related potential (ERP) responses in order to elucidate developmental relations between language processing and action perception.

AFFECTIVE NEUROSCIENCE

Image of Ted BeauchaineTheodore Beauchaine, Robert Bolles & Yasuko Endo Associate Professor, studies different forms of psychopathology in children. Recently, he has begun using fMRI to elucidate the neural bases of impulse control disorders including ADHD and delinquency. These studies show abnormal processing of reward and mild punishment in the caudate and anterior cingulate cortex, respectively, in boys with these conditions. He is currently extending this work to boys and girls who are depressed.

Image of Marsha LinehanMarsha Linehan, Professor and director of the Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics, develops and evaluates behavioral treatments for severe and persistent borderline personality disorder, particularly when accompanied by high emotion dysregulation and suicidal behaviors. The treatment she has developed, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), has been shown effective in multiple clinical trials, and she is now conducting research to elucidate the mechanisms of action of treatment effectiveness. This includes the use of fMRI to identify regions of functional change in the brain as a result of behavioral intervention.

Psychology- Radiology partnership

Image of new FMRI machine
Kenneth Maravilla, Director MR
Research Labaratory,
Provost Phyilis Wise, Steve Buck,
Psychology Chair, and Norman
Beauchamp, Radiology Chair

Functional magnetic resonance imaging of the human brain plays a key role in research on many facets of human neuroscience. Thus, we’re delighted that a new research-dedicated Philips 3-Tesla magnetic-resonance imaging scanner to carry out this research was installed on campus over the summer.

The scanner will be jointly managed by Radiology and Psychology and is partially supported by a $2M NSF grant awarded to UW Psychology. The dedication ceremonies for the new scanner featured a half-day scientific seminar, co-organized by Associate Professor Geoff Boynton, with talks by faculty from UW Psychology (Assistant Professor Scott Murray) and Radiology and distinguished visitors (Drs. Gary Glover, Stanford, and Richard Buxton, UCSD).

The opening reception (see photo) was attended by Deans of the School of Medicine and the College of Arts & Sciences and UW Provost Phyllis Wise. Geoff Boynton and Scott Murray have also taken the lead in shared management and user groups.

A training program consisting of tutorials, workshops, seminars, and outside speakers is being put in place. And Psychology and Radiology have jointly established an Innovation Fund with a goal of $1M in funding to increase the quality and quantity of neuroimaging research by both new and established investigators here at UW.

Assistant Professor Ione Fine has organized a two-quarter class to provide background in use of fMRI for new faculty and student researchers in Psychology and across campus.

Faculty Accomplishments

John Baer – promoted to Research Professor, 2006

David Barash – profiled in The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, book by conservative commentator David Horowitz

Ted Beauchaine – Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology by the American Psychological Association (a 1st for UW Psychology); 2006 UW Postdoctoral Mentor Award – studies development of delinquency in children

Mike Beecher - Selected as Program Director, National Science Foundation, 2006-2007; 2007 Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society – studies communication and song learning among birds

Ana Mari Cauce – named Dean of College of Arts & Sciences, University of Washington

Fred Fiedler - 2006 Walter F. Ulmer, Jr. Applied Research Award for integrating science and practice

Tony Greenwald – elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences; Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology

Peter Kahn – 2007 UW Undergraduate Research Mentor Award

Kevin King – 2007 Enoch Gordis Research Recognition Award, Research Society on Alcoholism

Roger Knight (Lecturer) - Assistant Professor position at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Randy Kyes – promoted to Research Professor, 2007; elected President-Elect of the American Society of Primatologists (also see below)

Lili Lengua - selected as the only psychologist on the Advisory Board for the National Children’s Study – studies child clinical psychology

Marsha Linehan – elected President, Division 12, Society of Clinical Psychology, American Psychological Association

Alan Marlatt - Harriet Tubman Freedom Award for Outstanding Community Activism and Lifetime Achievement to Improve Health, Columbia University – studies treatments for addictive behaviors

Bob McMahon - appointed Editor-in-Chief of the journal Prevention Science

Sheri Mizumori – selected as Co-Director, Neurobiology and Behavior Graduate Program, 5-year term; elected as Fellow, Association for Psychological Science

Jeanette Norris (affiliate faculty), Tina Zawacki (former Postdoctoral Fellow, now Assistant Professor at UT Austin), and Tatiana Masters (Social Work graduate student) - Ira and Harriet Reiss Theory Award from the Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality

Lee Osterhout – promoted to Professor, 2007

Betty Repacholi – Davida Teller Distinguished Faculty Award for outstanding service to, and excellence in, graduate mentorship and training

Barbara and Irwin Sarason - 2007 Distinguished Psychologist Award, Washington State Psychological Association

Irwin Sarason - 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award, Western Psychology Association – studies stress, coping, and resilient personalities.

Yuichi Shoda – promoted to Professor, 2007

Jane Simoni – promoted to Professor, 2006; Distinguished Contribution to Education and Training Award, Division 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues) American Psychological Association – researches AIDS prevention and treatment adherence in US and abroad

David Smith - (post-doctoral fellow with Sheri Mizumori) Assistant Professor position at Cornell University, Psychology Department

In the media

Geraldine Dawson – frequent national publicity for work on treatment and genetic basis of autism and for involvement with the International Autism Genome Project, a consortium of over 150 scientists around the world.

Tony Greenwald – appeared on June 4th “Oprah Winfrey Show” about “overcoming prejudice”; – interviewed on ABC’s “20/20” show on stereotypes and the inner workings of the human mind

James Ha – often featured as a certified animal behaviorist in local media on whales, crows, dog and cat behavior, and the controversy about pit bull dogs

Randy Kyes - established the Aceh Student Assistance Fund to help students after the December earthquake and tsunami at Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia, an institution with which the UW has had a cooperative program since 1991

Marsha Linehan - interviewed by O, The Oprah Magazine on her work with Borderline Personality Disorder

Andrew Meltzoff – extensive national publicity for “Baby DVDs, videos may hinder, not help, infants’ language development” research, with subsequent UW rebuff of Disney Co. attack

Betty Repacholi – Discovery Channel program on her work on development of emotion understanding in infants

Frank Smoll – national print publicity on coaching coaches