Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Psi Chi BBQ

Psychology Department cub reporter, N. Cognito, filed this report from the field…

PSI CHI and Psych Club Sponsor BBQ for Students and Faculty
Gray skies and chilly temps did not discourage students and faculty from joining Psi Chi and Psych Club members for lunch in the lobby of Cherry Hall on Friday September 16th. Senior Psych major Jairrah Mansfield and Juniors Kristina Trost and Viola Kleiser came by for some of the Jack Stack spread, and chatted with yours truly. They report their semester to be “busy but really good”! Senior Rodney Fritz was in the mix as well, and he admitted a serious interest in the bbq

Alyx Howard, sophomore Psych major was there with her friend Nikki Langland. Nikki is undecided yet about her major, but is interested in psych and criminal justice. They are both transfers from William Jewel College, and came to UMKC in search of great Psychology Department. This reporter believes they found it !

Senior Psych major Amanda Duplissie stopped by to take advantage of the opportunity to socialize. Judging from the din in the lobby, there was plenty of socializing going on! Amanda is interested in pursuing graduate work in counseling psychology after she receives her undergraduate degree.

Rob Hanson and Devon Gorajewski braved the cooler temperatures and sat outside on the front porch. Rob is a transfer from Rockhurst; his interests have morphed from business and marketing to industrial/organizational psychology. Devon is interested in pursuing a career in clinical psychology. They reported extrinsic motivations for attending the bbq, including the food of course, and some extra credit points for a Psych class. Whatever it takes, glad to have them around!

Freshman Crystal Williams stopped by to see what the Psych Department is all about, and to find ways to get involved in student activities. She’s interested in Psychology and Communication Studies and would like to pursue positive psychology. Welcome Crystal!

An extended conversation between this reporter and Angela Gutierrez, a psychology upperclassman, revealed the varied backgrounds and interests of our students. Angela has an architecture degree from Cornell University, and worked in that field for several years after obtaining her degree. However, architecture didn’t turn out to be as personally rewarding as she had hoped, so she’s pursuing a degree in psychology and plans to go into clinical psychology. We discussed the creative process that psychology and architecture might have in common, and the importance of finding a career that you can love. Heady stuff !

All in all, the event was a great success. Close to 100 undergraduate and graduate students attended, along with several faculty members. The event was planned by Psi Chi President Melanie Somogie and Treasurer Komal Dasani, along with faculty advisor Dr. Kym Bennett. Also instrumental on the day of the event were Daniel Folk (Psych Club President) and Kristen Epping-Flanery (Psychology Student Ambassadors). Funding for the event was provided by the Psychology Department and by Psi Chi. Psi Chi’s funding came from the Student Activity Fee Council, awarded based on a successful application to that Council.

Congratulations to all !

Drs. Jenny Lundgren and Amanda Bruce's New Research Projects

Congratulations to Jenny Lundgren and Amanda Bruce ! Their recent proposals to the Pilot and Collaborative Studies Funding Program (FY 2012) have been funded through Frontiers: The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. See below for descriptions of their projects.

Principal Investigator: Amanda Bruce, PhD
"Food for thought: Can stomach surgery change the brain?"

While bariatric surgery is an effective long-term treatment for obesity, the physiological mechanisms associated with successful surgery are not well understood. Researchers have hypothesized that, following food consumption, surgical modifications elicit hormonal and neural signals that trigger feelings of satiety in the brain. Our group recently examined the association between weight loss and brain function using two separate patient-groups. In the first fMRI study, we scanned participants before and 12 weeks after receiving laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) surgery. In a second study, using the same neuroimaging protocol, we scanned participants prior to and 12-weeks following a behavioral weight loss intervention.

We now intend to directly compare participants from these two studies. In this project, we will
1. Characterize cortical differences at baseline, examining brain responses to visual food cues in limbic, paralimbic, and prefrontal brain regions.
2. Identify behavioral changes associated with bariatric surgery including self-reported hunger and cognitive control.
3. Examine longitudinal cortical changes associated with bariatric surgery in paralimbic, limbic, and prefrontal brain regions.

This would be the first project to examine the effects of bariatric surgery on brain physiology in comparison to a behavioral weight loss intervention. The findings from this research can improve our understanding of successful long-term weight loss and open additional avenues for new behavioral and pharmacological weight loss interventions.

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Lundgren, PhD
“Functional Neuroanatomy of Impulsivity in Obese Shorter and Longer Sleepers”

The long-term objective of this project is to understand better the relationship between sleep and obesity and, consequently, improve obesity treatment and prevention efforts. Although a relationship between sleep duration and obesity has been established, potential mechanisms by which sleep loss can lead to the development of obesity have not been adequately explored. One potential mechanism by which shorter sleep could contribute to obesity is through its detrimental effect on executive functioning, and impulsivity in particular. The aim of this project, therefore, is to examine the neural systems involved in impulse control using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a delay discounting paradigm in obese participants with shorter (<5 hours) and longer (7-8 hours) sleep duration. Obese shorter sleepers and obese longer sleepers, with actigraphy confirmed sleep duration, will complete behavioral assessments of eating, sleep, and impulsivity as well as complete a computerized delay discounting of reward paradigm while undergoing fMRI. Shorter and longer sleep groups will be compared on delay discounting of reward choices and neural activation in the limbic, paralimbic, and lateral prefrontal regions of the brain while engaging in the delay discounting task. Behavioral measures will be correlated with activity in these brain regions during the delay discounting task.