One topic that intrigues me is how parents and children communicate about spiritual and religious issues, and in this work I've used a multi-method approach with quantitative and qualitative methods.
Another topic I've studied with many students is what we call "God in the bod" -- women's spirituality and religiosity in relation to their body image and eating behavior. Another broad interest of mine is religiosity and spirituality in the college years, and how these dimensions relate to other variables and aspects of well-being. Many of these projects are motivated by students' particular interests. A very recent example was a series of studies I conducted with Linda Kang '10 and Jamie Leacock '11 to assess students' religious fundamentalism in relation to their attitudes toward gay and Lesbian individuals. In addition to that descriptive study, we used an experimental design to test whether students' gay/Lesbian attitudes could be improved due to reading arguments relying on either religious or scientific grounds for acceptance of gay/Lesbian individuals. Linda, Jamie, and I presented these studies at several major psychology conferences this past year.
I attend several psychology conferences every year, and it is a priority of mine to take psychology students with me to present our work and help the students learn about professional academic psychology. In addition to work on religion and spirituality, I also study other topics with students. For example, one recent study with Emily Bostwick '09 and Jessica Cressen '09 examined relational aggression, or "mean girls" behavior, in middle school girls and Bucknell women, and we presented that study at a major conference as well.
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In our lab we are working on two, inter-related lines of research.
The first line of work examines the cognitive and emotional aspects of self-regulation. Findings from the study of obsessive-compulsive disorder reveal that patients with OCD evidence deficits on certain neuropsychological tasks assessing the so-called "executive functions." In our lab we are examining the associations between children's executive functions (cognitive set-shifting and response inhibition) and the development of rituals, habits and compulsive-like behaviors. This work draws from a developmental psychopathology perspective that integrates theory and research from both normal and abnormal development.
The second line of research extends these developmental findings to the realm of psychophysiology. Using event-related potentials (ERP), we are examining the connection between the brain's electrical response and self-reported obsessions and compulsions in the normal population. This work explores whether the variance in P300 and N175 responses that are observed in patients with OCD under certain conditions are observed in sub-clinical populations.
The general thrust of our work is to explore the underlying similarities and developmental aspects of normality and psychopathology, and to eschew a categorical "disease entity" characterization of certain patterns of behavior -- such as obsessive-compulsive behavior.
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In my lab, we carry out projects related to memory, cognitive aging, and music cognition. For instance, one ongoing project is studying implicit memory for music: the type of memory that allows you to sing along with a familiar song once it starts, but without the explicit recollection of the song. Other projects study auditory imagery, both for music (“hearing” tunes in your head) and other things, like environmental sounds.
Students in my lab help prepare experiments suitable for ERP and neuroimaging techniques, which I carry out with collaborators at other institutions. One recent example is looking at how the brain reacts to tunes that are major or minor (or “happy” and “sad”). Some of these studies are designed to explore how musical experts function but others are focused on everyday musical experiences.
Finally, we investigate some questions relating to how senior citizens can remember information, especially music.
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Professor Kevin Myers and junior psychology major Sean Bradley are working on a research project studying what factors influence rats' liking for the taste of fat and their preference for high-fat foods. Students who have performed well in the Learning course and who are interested in experimental psychology can contact Professor Myers to find out about opportunities to get involved in this research.
Learn more about Professor Myers.