Thursday, November 12, 2009

UMKC Psychology in Germany!

During the week of October 19th, three members of the UMKC Department of Psychology attended the 49th annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research in Berlin Germany. Faculty member Chris Lovelace and graduate students Liz Duval and Stacia Gessner all had an amazing time looking around Berlin and attending the symposia and poster sessions at the SPR meeting. Dr. Lovelace made his annual appearance on drums with the SPR Blues Band during the closing Saturday Night Social.

During the meeting, Ms. Duval presented a poster entitled “Flashing a smile: Is startle sensitive to unconscious face processing?” in which she described her recent work with Drs. Lovelace and Filion on using the startle response to look at how we perceive and react to emotional faces. Dr. Lovelace’s poster, “Neural network evaluation of multi-modal startle eyeblink measurements”, was done in collaboration with Dr. Reza Derakhshani from the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. They presented their recently-developed approach to using artificial neural networks to quantify startle eyeblinks measured using the electromyogram and high-speed video.

We are delighted to announce that, during the meeting’s business luncheon, Liz Duval was announced as one of three winners of the Society’s Research Training Award. Her mentors for this project will be Dr Diane Filion and Dr. Lovelace from our department as well as Dr. Cary Savage from the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Hoglund Brain Imaging Center. Ms. Duval will learn to integrate functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging with startle eyeblink to investigate how people with social anxiety perceive and pay attention to emotional faces.

Following the SPR meeting, Dr. Lovelace and Ms. Duval traveled to Trier, Germany at the invitation of Dr. Hartmut Schächinger to attend a symposium for the University of Trier Psychoneuroendocrinology of Stress Research Group. Dr. Lovelace gave a talk describing his recent work, with the help of Ms. Duval, Dr. Filion, and Dr. Derakhshani, using high-speed video to record and measure eyeblinks. We had a wonderful time interacting with this lively research group, and had an amazing visit to the city of Trier.

In the accompanying picture, the three gentlemen in the front left are Dr. Terry Blumenthal (Wake Forest University), Dr. Lovelace, and Dr. Schächinger. Ms. Duval is on the far right. The rest are graduate students of Dr. Schächinger (left to right: Christian, Hanni, Linn, Debbie, and Sophie).