Social & Behavioral Sciences
Project: "Waiting Out a Pandemic": Emotional Labor and Feeling Rules in Food Service During COVID-19
Presenter: Kirsten Dudley
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Carol Rambo, Sociology
Abstract: For this future sociological study beginning in January 2021, the concepts of emotion labor and feeling rules will be systematically assessed among waiters and waitresses, or servers, at my current workplace and how those processes have been possibly transformed due to changes in the social practices at the restaurant that are intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Arlie Hochschild's sociological theory about the social exchange of gestures of emotion labor and feeling rules in the workplace will be applied to my workplace, Shoney's, to assess the altered emotion labor and feeling rules among servers regarding health safety procedures that have been implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as required wearing of masks, new sanitizing guidelines, and customer health checks. Dorothy Sue Cobble's research on feeling rules and emotion work among servers in the 1900s will also be used to establish these concepts among servers at my workplace. Methods which will be used to measure emotion work and feeling rules in the study include participant observation and interviews. Results collection will not begin until January of 2021 and the study will finalize around the end of the spring semester.
Project: Auditory ERPs as a Measure of Attention in an Animal Model of ADHD: The LPHN3 Knockout Rat
Presenter: Janki Patel
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Helen Sable, Psychology
Abstract: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopment disorder that is typically observed first in childhood, but often persists into adolescence and adulthood. Individuals with ADHD are often unable to filter extraneous stimuli which is referred to as a deficit in sensory-gating. Auditory sensory-gating can be measured using auditory event-related potentials (ERPs). ERPs occur during the perception and processing of sensory information and during higher-level cognitive tasks such as attentional control. This project focused on the first negative peak observed in the ERP waveform – the N100 (a.k.a., the N1) which typically occurs between 50-150 ms after stimulus onset. Sound repetition typically reduces auditory N1 amplitudes due to refractory periods and habituation of the N1 generators, along with the activation of inhibitory neural circuits. However, in individuals with ADHD, attenuation of the N1 to repeated tones is disrupted. The purpose of this study was to analyze the auditory ERP complex, focusing on the characteristics of the auditory N1, in a proposed rodent model of ADHD - Lphn3 knockout (KO) rats. We predicted that the peak N1 amplitude to the first tone in a tone train would be higher in wild-type (WT) than KO rats, and that N1 amplitude would attenuate to repeated tones in WT controls but not in the KO rats. Surprisingly, there was no difference in N1 peak amplitude between the KO and WT rats. However, the N1 peak latency was faster in the KO compared to the WT rats. Overall, this finding is more indicative of a hyperactive response rather than a problem with attention. Therefore, the Lphn3 KO rat may better represent the hyperactive/impulsive subtype of ADHD, versus the inattentive or combined ADHD subtypes.
Project: Discourse & Discord in North Korea
Presenter: Tucker Cantrell
Major: Political Science
Faculty Mentor: Leah Windsor, Political Science
Abstract: Societies such as North Korea can be hard to study for political scientists and other scholars. Especially hard to study within the DPRK is its leaders, as understanding their cues and signals. Both Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un have a history of belligerent language, and hostility towards regional neighbors such as Japan, as well as being extremely oppressive to their own people. All of this is further exacerbated by the volatility of the DPRK's international and internal disposition. One way to gain insight to the leaders' perspectives is through the state ran propaganda machine. Using automated text analysis on press releases from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) from January 1st, 1997 to February 5th, 2015, we can see clear differences in language between the two leaders. We can also see how each of them used certain language during certain events or crises. We used discourse analysis and topic modeling (Latent Dirichlet Allocation) to find these different broad patterns of speech during different crises. We can use this predict hopefully predict how Kim Jong-Un will react in the future in similar situations.
Project: Dopamine Dynamics in an Animal Model of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: The SHR Rat
Presenter: Carina Hicks
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Deranda Lester, Psychology
Abstract: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and compulsive behavior. The Spontaneously Hyperactive Rat (SHR) has been thoroughly researched, and has been shown to be an excellent animal model of ADHD. The purpose of this project was to use in vivo fixed potential amperometry to measure and quantify dopamine release and half-life in the PFC, which is often altered in ADHD patients, of SHR rats compared to the control strain - Wistar-Kyoto (WKY). Measurements were collected before and after the injection of nomifensine, a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor. We hypothesize that SHR rats will exhibit hypodopaminergic transmission, with higher percent changes following nomifensine administration, relative to WKY control rats. The results of the study will be compared to other, lesser-known prospective animal models of ADHD, to look for convergent mechanisms underlying the behavioral symptoms.
Project: Impulsivity in SHR Rats Makes Them An Excellent Animal Model of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Presenter: Alyssa Johnson
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Helen Sable, Psychology
Abstract: Although research has been done showing that the Spontaneously Hyperactive Rat (SHR) is an excellent animal model of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), this project was done to measure impulsive action in SHRs compared to Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats (a control strain) as part of a larger project examining other, lesser-known ADHD rat models. Subjects were 24 SHR rats (12 females and 12 males) and 24 WKY rats (12 females and 12 males). During testing, rats were placed in operant boxes chambers where they were first trained to press the response levers for a food reward. Once reliably pressing the levers, they were tested on three different phases of a differential reinforcement of low rates (DRL) of responding task. Each DRL task required the rat to wait a specified time between lever presses. DRL 5 required 5 sec between presses, while DRL 10 and 15 required a 10 sec and 15 sec inter-response time, respectively. This study hypothesized that the SHRs would earn fewer reinforcers (indicative of higher impulsivity) than the WKY (i.e., control) rats. A 2 (strain: SHR vs. WKY) x 2 (sex) x 6 (5-day testing block) mixed-model analysis of variance was conducted. As predicted, the SHRs exhibited a lower ratio of reinforced to non-reinforced trials indicative of greater impulsive behavior. The results of this project add to the previous research showing that SHRs exhibit a core symptom of ADHD (impulsivity) providing additional evidence of their utility as an animal model of ADHD.
Project: Insight into the Language & Cognition of Slobodan Milosevic
Presenter: Tessa Murphy
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Leah Windsor, Institute for Intelligent Systems
Abstract: In this project I examine the language of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic to obtain a better understanding of his cognition. Milosevic was accused of having responsibility in war crimes and genocide that took place during the Balkan Wars in the 1990's. Amongst multiple other crimes against humanity, he was also accused of orchestrating the murders of Bosnian Muslims and Croats during the Srebenica massacre in 1995 (Kenny, 2006). In terms of politics, the function of language has been described as enabling political elites to create a reality through linking of their own actions too acceptable, motives, goals, and developments€? (Bozic, 1992). Earlier research of Milosevic has analyzed the complexity of his speeches and has shown that a change occurred in Milosevic's rhetoric complexity. It was found that the level of complexity in his rhetoric shifted from a high level of complexity to more simplistic and value-laden statements that were then of lower complexity (Bozic, 1992).
Pre-existing research from more recent years has examined Milosevic's need for power and nationalism and has explored the extent to which his personality traits impacted his political behavior (Spahiu, 2011). Milosevic's foreign policy belief system has also been measured by operational code analysis (Spahiu, 2011). The current project evaluates Milosevic's cognition by examining his language use specifically around his worldview. Additionally, the project uses language analytical software including Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) and Coh-Metrix to analyze Milosevic's speeches.
Project: Oxytocin Administration Alters Behaviors Related to Motivation & Anxiety in Mice
Presenter: Gwendalyn Johnson
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Deranda Lester, Psychology
Abstract: Oxytocin is currently being analyzed as a potential treatment for several psychological disorders including schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, mood and anxiety disorders, and substance use disorder. A previous study in our lab demonstrated that repeated oxytocin administration can lead to reduced dopamine transmission in the mesolimbic pathway and a reduced dopaminergic response to psychostimulants in mice. These findings support the use of oxytocin to reduce drug-seeking behaviors (associated with dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens) and symptoms of anxiety (partially associated with dopamine and other excitatory neurotransmission in the amygdala). However, decreased dopamine is also related to symptoms of depression, such as reduced motivation and anhedonia, the ability to experience pleasure. This study aimed to examine behavioral effects of oxytocin administration on mice. The study used open field testing to measure exploratory behaviors (locomotor activity and rearing), which have been shown to be decreased in animal models of depression and anhedonia, and anxiety-related behaviors (time spent in the center of the chamber). Male and female mice were subchronically pretreated with either oxytocin (1 mg/kg, i.p.) or saline prior to open field testing. During the open field testing, mice explored the chamber for 20 min, were administered either oxytocin or saline (same as pretreatment condition), then explored the chamber for another 1 hr. Neither sex nor drug (oxytocin/saline) altered baseline (first 20 min) locomotor activity or time spent in the center of the chamber. Drug pretreatment only significantly impacted the amount of baseline rearing. However, oxytocin administration during the testing session reduced exploratory and increased anxiety-like behaviors compared to saline. Both sexes responded similarly to oxytocin. The results indicated that sex had no significant impact on exploratory behaviors or anxiety-like behaviors. Together, sex and pretreatment did not have a significant impact on exploratory and anxiety-like behaviors. These results indicate that the oxytocin-induced decrease in dopamine release previously reported by our lab was detrimental enough to induce depression- and anxiety-related behavioral changes. The results of this study will improve our understanding of the behavioral outcomes of repeated oxytocin administration, ultimately providing further insight on the potential therapeutic uses of this drug.
Project: The Effects of Musical Nuances on Cognition
Presenter: Wesley Roberts
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Gina Caucci, Psychology
Abstract: Previous research has found contradictory evidence regarding the effects of music on spatial ability, while largely ignoring the important contributing factors of musical complexity and musical training. The purpose of this study is to establish conclusive evidence of the effects of music on spatial ability. Furthermore, this study aims to properly operationalize musical complexity while also furthering the evidence that musical complexity and musical training significantly increase an individual's spatial ability. Participants will consist of students at the University of Memphis that differ on their amount of musical training. Participants will listen to musical pieces of varying complexity before completing several trials of a virtual mental rotation task to measure the concept of spatial ability. It is hypothesized that participants will exhibit improved spatial ability after listening to high musical complexity and that participants with musical training will exhibit improved spatial ability over participants with no musical training.
Project: The Effects of Social Isolation on Anxious & Depressive Behavior in Aged Mice
Presenter: Olivia Mason
Major: Psychology & Biology
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Deranda Lester, Psychology
Abstract: The effects of social isolation stress have been found to correlate with anxious and depressive like behaviors in human and animal models. Early- life isolation in widely reported on while there is significantly less known about the effects of social isolation on aged populations. The focus of the investigation is to evaluate social isolation stress- induced anxious and depressive- like behavior in aged mice. Thirty-six eighteen and twelve month old male mice were separated into 2 experimental groups respective of age: socially isolated (SI) and those housed in a social environment (SE). Anxious behavior was measured by time spent in center of chamber in relation to time spent on perimeter (more time spent in center indicating increased anxiety), while depressive like behavior was characterized by amount of locomotor activity (decreased motor activity correlating with both depression and anxiety in mice) in open field testing. Increased anxious and depressive-like behavior is expected to present itself in greater incidence within the SI group in comparison to the SE group due to stress from isolation. Isolation- induced stress is also expected to have a more detrimental effect on the 18 month old mice due to older age. Mice in late- adulthood can be compared to a geriatric population in humans and results from this study could potentially be used to better understand effects of social isolation on the elderly population.
Project: Working Memory Impairments in An Animal Model of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: The SHR Rat
Presenter: Lauren Estes
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Helen Sable
Abstract: Some research suggests individuals with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) exhibit poor working memory in addition to other core symptoms of ADHD that include impulsivity, hyperactivity and poor attention. The purpose of this study is to evaluate working memory performance in an accepted model of ADHD - the Spontaneously Hypertensive (SHR) rat. This experiment is using both male and female SHR rats and comparing them to male and female Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY), the latter of which are serving as controls. Operant testing chambers with two response levers are being used to measure spatial alternation behavior. The specific tasks include cued alternation (CA), non-cued alternation (NCA), and a final delayed spatial alternation (DSA) task, the latter of which assesses working memory. Rats are required to alternate levers between trials for all three tasks. CA illuminated the cue light about the correct lever. NCA was similar to CA, but did not provide a response cue. DSA was similar to NCA, but incorporated delays of 0, 5,10, or 20 sec between trials. Daily sessions of CA occur until each rat gets at least 60% correct. Daily sessions of NCA occur for 10 consecutive days, while DSA occurs over 25 consecutive days. Data collection is ongoing. Once complete, the percent correct for NCA will be analyzed via a 2 (strain) x 2 (sex) x 10 (testing day) mixed ANOVA. Â Percent correct for DSA will be averaged into 5-day testing blocks and analyzed via a 2 (strain) x 2 (sex) x 5 (5-day testing block) mixed ANOVA. No differences are expected for NCA. For DSA, the overall percent correct is expected to decrease with increasing delay. In addition, the SHR rats are expected to exhibit a lower percent correct than the WKY rats at the shorter delays, providing evidence of a working memory deficit in this animal model of ADHD.