NewsPsychology News at Scarborough and Mississauga campuses.
This year brings new Faculty member Christina Starmans to the Psychology Department. Christina is a developmental psychologist who studies social and moral cognition across the lifespan. Her research takes an interdisciplinary approach to questions at the intersection of psychology and philosophy, and explores how young children and adults reason about topics such as the self, morality, ownership, fairness, and knowledge. Christina completed her PhD and postdoctoral training in Developmental Psychology at Yale University, and she was an undergraduate Psychology & Philosophy major at the University of Waterloo. She is happy to be returning to her city of birth, hopes to continue her habit of creating urban gardens in unlikely places, and is slowly re-incorporating long-forgotten Canadian-isms back into her vocabulary! Welcome, eh!
Psychology St. George welcomes new Assistant Professor Teaching Stream, Molly Metz, Molly's research interests focus on close relationships, with a special emphasis on the psychological, physiological, and behavioral factors that shape social support interactions in the lab and in daily life. She also conducts pedagogical research on the features of teachers, students, and learning environments that foster students' intrinsic motivation for learning. Her teaching interests span social psychology, research methods, and statistics, and considers it her mission to help students see the real-world value of everything - even the differences between measures of central tendency. Molly completed her PhD in Social Psychology and a Certificate in College and University Teaching at the University of California Santa Barbara and spent the last two years as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Miami University of Ohio. She is thrilled to finally fulfill her childhood dream of living in a major city with public transit, street performers, and a million types of cuisine at her disposal. And we are thrilled to have her join us.
> Psychology professor Nick Rule and PhD student Thora Bjornsdottir recently published research on facial recognition that demonstrated how people can detect, unconsciously, if a person is richer or poorer than average simply by looking at a photograph of the person's face, a judgment that can create bias toward rich over poor in certain situations, such as job hiring. In the experiment, students whose families fell into two categories – with total family incomes of under $60,000 or above $100,000 – had their faces (devoid of any expression) photographed. A separate group of participants were then asked to decide which ones were "rich or poor" just by looking at the faces. Results were accurate at a level that exceeded random chance. The researchers’ conclusion was that habits of expression, such as frequent happiness, which is stereotypically associated with being wealthy, become etched on a person's face by their late teens or early adulthood. Gender and race did not facto rinto the assessments made by participants. Read more about this research in:The Toronto Star, ScienceDaily and the U of T Bulletin.
> Congratulations to our recipients of the 2016 Psychology Scholarships and Awards:
1. Linda Mamelak Undergraduate Award: Amanda Choi
2. The McNab Scholarship in Psychology: Chong He
3. The Psychology Graditude Scholarship: Maisha Tasnim
4. The Dept. of Psychology Student Award: Cristina Tucciarone
5. The John D. Ketchum Memorial Scholarship: Erica Matulis/Karen Black
6. The John D. Ketchum Memorial Bursary: Priscilla Fung
7. The Dr. Horace O. Frosty Steer Award: Natalie Holtby
8. The George Mandler Research Fund: Rachel Forbes/Anna Petersson
> Psychology Department Professor and Graduate Chair, Morris Moscovitch, has received the University of Toronto's highest designation for faculty members. On June 2, 2017, the provost announced that Dr. Moscovitch was one of four U of T faculty members newly named University Professor. This designation recognizes extraordinary scholarly achievement and high distinction in a particular field of study. Morris was recognized for his leading work on memory and the brain as well as his contributions to research on face-recognition, attention, and the specialization of the brain's hemispheres. He is also well- respected for his teaching and student mentoring. Congratulations to Morris and to the other three recipients. Read more in the U of T Bulletin.
> Psychology Department neuroscientist, Dr. Gillian Einstein, was recently awarded the first-ever Wilfred and Joyce Posluns Chair in Women’s Brain Health and Aging. The award comes with $1 million over five years with the goal of answering why more womenthan men are affected by depression, stroke and dementia. The funded research also examines the effects of social and cultural life experiences on the biology of women. A Toronto Star article, published June 3, 2017, thoroughly exams Dr. Einstein’s career and research path – from her undergraduate studies at Harvard where her interest in neurobiology began, followed by a PhD invisual systems from the University of Pennsylvania, to an assistant professorship at Duke University 1989 and, starting in 2006, as faculty member at the University of Toronto. Since her interest was awakened and throughout her career, Jill, recognizing the strong sex and gender bias in favour of men in clinical health research, focused on women’s health and the role of hormones and genetics on women’s brains, as well as how social and cultural life experiences are absorbed into our biology. Today, Einstein’s lab pulls her concerns about sex, gender, aging, cognition and women’s health together. Read the Toronto Star article here.
> The Psychology Department welcomes Meg Schlichting. Meg studies how the brain supports the formation, modification, and use of knowledge from a developmental perspective. Her research employs cognitive neuroscience techniques (including both functional and structural MRI) to understand how the maturing brain gives rise to developmental differences in behavior -- how might kids, teens, and adults differ in their ability to remember and reason about their experiences? Meg completed her PhD at the University of Texas at Austin followed by postdocs at UT Austin and here at the University of Toronto. When she isn't science-ing, Meg is all about food. She loves cooking and checking out Toronto's diverse restaurant scene. She especially enjoys exploring the many takes on her new favorite food: poutine! She also loves traveling and spending time with her family.
> Psychology Faculty member, Morgan Barense, is part of a team of researchers who have uncovered a potential predictor for early dementia. The joint study conducted by University of Toronto and Baycrest Rotman Research Institute scientists, indicates that changes to the brain may occur years before a diagnosis of dementia, even before the onset of problems with memory. Published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging on May 8, 2017, the research looked at 40 older adults (between the ages of 59 and 81) who, while not aware of any major memory problems, had scores below the benchmark on a dementia-screening test. With early detection of at-risk individuals can allow for therapeutic interventions that can treat or slow down the disease. Adults who are 40 or older and are interested in testing their memory and attention prior to raising concerns with their doctor can consult Baycrest’s scientifically-validated, online brain health assessment tool, Cogniciti. To read more about this important research, got to the U of T Faculty of Arts & Science news page.
> The Psychology Department is pleased to announce that PhD candidate David Chan is the 2017 recipient of the Teaching Assistant Training Programs' (TATP) Course Instructor (CI) award. This award is presented annually to a graduate student who has demonstrated ongoing excellence in their teaching. Qualities the recipient must exhibit include the following, to name a few: evidence of sustained excellence in teaching practice over time; effective strategies for supporting student learning; the ability to provide effective feedback to students; enthusiasm and knowledge of their subject area and for the practice of teaching; and a passion for enhancing student learning. David teaches cognitive psychology with the Department. Congratulations, David!
> Congratulations to Faculty member Dirk Bernhardt-Walther who has been selected as a recipient for a Sony Research Award. This program provides funding for innovative academic research, helping to build a collaborative relationship between University faculty and Sony researchers. Dirk's proposal involves the creation of a computational framework for detecting and characterizing symmetry. For more information about this important award, go to http://www.sony.com/research-award-program.
> How do children feel about same-sex romantic relationship? Funded by SSHRC, research by former Psychology graduate student Sarah Spence, Psychology current graduate student Nicole Cosentino and Faculty member Charles Helwig, sheds light on this question. Results of the study, with 128 child participants aged 5 to 14, show that the majority viewed same-sex relationships as acceptable and most believed gay and lesbian relationships should either not be regulated at all or, if so, should be protected by law. According to lead writer Sarah Spence, given that the LGBTQ community is still a target for discrimination, this first-time researchon children’s attitudes about same-sex relationships could provide crucial information on how to work towards a more inclusive society. More information: PsyPost interview with lead writer Sarah Spence. Read the article Children's Judgments and Reasoning About Same-Sex Romantic Relationships.
> Psychology Professor Jay Pratt wins 2017 Faculty Award for outstanding teaching and research. Read more in the U of T News.
> Psychology’s Daphna Buchsbaum, graduate student Julia Espinosa and former postdoctoral fellow Emma Tecwyn, with the invaluable assistance of undergraduate students in the Research Opportunity Program (ROP) Aarushi Gupta and Madeline Pelgrim have been studying the relationship between how humans train dogs and how dogs learn. Through two separate cognition studies, the researchers discovered that the way we think dogs ‘learn’ may be different than supposed, and that dogs are less prone to the ‘gravity bias’ than small children and monkeys. Due to their long association with humans, dogs have become uniquely sensitive to cues thought to be associated with teaching, such as sharing, pointing and directing their attention to certain actions. With the first study dogs where shown a series of events that, if copied, would produce a treat at the end. Contrary to expectations, the dogs did not learn the steps to reach the treat. Rather, they went straight to the final action without going through the sequence they were ‘taught’. In other words, the dogs, while paying attention, did not experience this as a “teaching” moment (i.e. the dog does not understand that someone is trying to teach it). In the second study looking at gravity bias in dogs (gravity bias is what makes small children and monkeys look directly beneath an object when it is dropped) revealed that dogs are able to locate a dropped object when it is deflected elsewhere and does not fall directly to the ground. Read more on the Arts & Science news page.
> Research findings by Psychology’s Kaori Takehara-Nishiuchi, recent PhD graduate Mark Morrissey and former post-doctoral fellow Nathan Insel provide new insight into the brain, memory, and how knowledge is collected and stored. The paper reporting these results Generalizable knowledge outweighs incidental details in prefrontal ensemble code over time was published in eLIFE on February 14, 2017. While memories from recent events are full of detail, these same memories fade with time as the brain consolidates information that is both important and common to a variety of experiences in our long-term memory. The researchers predicted that specific neurons within the brain were responsible for building representations at the time of long-term memory consolidation that were larger than that of the smaller details. Experiments on rats supported this hypothesis, showing that the initial encoding of unique and shared stimuli became more sensitive to shared features while unique features became lost. Read more in the Faculty of Arts & Science News
> In a study that focuses on how the human brain encodes architecture, a team led by Psychology’s Dirk Bernhardt-Walther uncovered that the area within the brain’s visual system that processes scenes and faces is also used when looking at buildings. In other words, the way we perceive architecture is similar to the way we view people and scenes. Participants (half of which were architectural students) in the study were shown a variety of images including different architectural styles, assorted scenes and faces while their brain activity was recorded using functional MRI technology. Another surprising result of the study was that all participants (expert and non-expert) used the same area of the brain when viewing architecture. Future research plans include developing methods of measuring people’s appreciation of architecture. Read more in the U of T Bulletin. Read the research paper here.
> Ground-breaking research on reasoning skills among capuchin monkeys presents evidence, for the first time, that monkeys have the ability to make decisions based on probabilities. The research, conducted by Psychology Faculty member Daphna Buchsbaum and Post-Doctoral Fellow Emma Tecwyn, was published online in Animal Cognition. In brief, monkeys presented with jars of attractive peanuts and unappealing pellets in varying ratios demonstrated the ability to reason about relative amounts. This cutting-edge research indicates that monkeys share an intuitive statistical ability with human infants, something that previous research demonstrated existed with the great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans). It also raises questions about this statistical reasoning trait and whether this ability dates back 30 million years to when capuchins and humans shared a common ancestor. Read more on CBC News and in the U of T Bulletin.
> Congratulations to Psychology Associate Professor Dr. Gillian Einstein on being awarded the first ever Wilfred and Joyce Posluns Chair in Women's Brain Health and Aging. The Chair is an initiative of the late Wilfred Posluns' Family Foundation and the Women's Brain Health Initiative. After a competitive search that began in March 2016 the recipient of this honour was announcement on December 14, 2016 by The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health. Dr. Einstein is a leading expert in the field of neuroscience, sex and gender. The award will support new research, led by Dr. Einstein, into why women are more affected by brain disorders than men, research that will contribute to the development of new strategies to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases that affect the brain and promote brain health in women. CIHR News Release of Award.
> The Psychology Department is delighted to announce that Faculty member Liz Page-Gould and her former Post-Doctoral Fellow, Cara MacInnis (currently a professor at the University of Calgary) have won the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize! This is the top award given in intergroup relations, awarded for the best paper published on the subject. Liz and Cara have received the prize for their 2015 article, "How Can Intergroup Interaction Be Bad If Intergroup Contact Is Good? Exploring and Reconciling an Apparent Paradox in the Science of Intergroup Relations" (http://pps.sagepub.com/content/10/3/307). The paper was published in Perspectives on Psychological Science. Congratulations to Liz and Cara!
> Newly published research conducted by Psychology graduate student, Jessica Maxwell, shows that realism and not romantic day dreams can result in a healthy sex life in long-term relationships. According to the research, Jessica says, if a couple uses the quality of their sex life to gauge the quality of their relationship, they will equate any sex life problems to problems with their entire relationship. Alternatively, people who believe that sexual life can grow and change within a relationship do not allow such problems to affect their overall satisfaction in the relationship which, in turn, can result in a healthy sexual relationship over the long term. Approximately 1,900 individuals (in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships) participated in the research which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology on November 7, 2016. Read more in the U of T Bulletin
> The Psychology Department is delighted to welcome Michael Mack to the St. George campus. Michael studies human learning, focusing on how visual attention and memory systems work together to build useful knowledge. His current work investigates the moment-by-moment dynamics of category learning, specifically how newly learned information is integrated into prior knowledge. His lab will characterize the cognitive and neural mechanisms of successful learning with a novel combination of behavioral, computational modeling, and fMRI approaches. Michael completed his PhD at Vanderbilt University and postdoctoral training at the University of Texas at Austin. After more than 10 years in the American South, he is indelibly marked with a passion for BBQ and breakfast tacos, but is excited to return to a climate with four seasons and to live in a diverse city overflowing with great food. We are thrilled to have Michael join us.
> Eric Taylor, postdoc with Jay Pratt’s Visual Cognition Lab for the past two years and now at Western University and Psychology graduate student Jason Rajsic are co-authors, along with Dr. Pratt, of a paper that received a 2016 Clifford T. Morgan Best Article Award. This award, presented by the Psychonomic Society, honors authors for the best paper published in each of the Psychonomic Society journals. Each August, editors of each journal select the best paper published in their journal over the past year. The honoured article “Object-based selection is contingent on attentional control settings”, was published in the Psychonomic journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. Congratulations to the authors!August 2016
> Psychology professor Ashley Waggoner Denton knows from experience how intimidating taking an undergraduate class in Convocation (Con) Hall can be. So when she started teaching Introductory Psychology in Con Hall, where once she sat as a student, she wanted to create a warm learning environment in the less than friendly space. A couple of examples of how she does this include bringing in a dog and trainer to explain operant conditioning when lecturing on learning and having an individual with a brain injury talking to a class during a lecture on perception. Dr. Waggoner Denton is welcoming on the first day of class and works to include students in the discussion, making them an active rather than passive part of the learning process. Read more about Ashley’s experience teaching in Con Hall in the U of T News.
> It is with sadness that the Psychology Department announces the recent passing of two of its long time Faculty members, John Furedy and Paul Muter. John Furedy joined the Department in 1967, conducting research in psychophysiology, including biofeedback and lie detection. He taught numerous undergraduate and graduate courses on classical conditioning, controversies in experimental psychology, and the frontiers of psychophysiology. In 2005, John became a Professor Emeritus, and moved back to Sydney, Australia, the city where he completed his PhD in 1965. Paul Muter was a member of the Department for over 40 years, beginning his appointment in 1981. He was a pioneer of work on human memory, how humans interact with computers, and how technology affects cognition. Not only a dedicated teacher and researcher, Paul also loved spending time with his friends in the Department playing bridge and tennis. Our hearts go out to the families and close friends of John and Paul.July 2016
> Psychology’s Dr. Amy Finn is lead researcher of a study with potential to helping lower-income students succeed. The study, conducted collaboratively with University of Toronto and MIT researchers and published in the July 19, 2016 edition of Developmental Science, concludes that the ability to use working memory is weaker in lower-income students than children from higher income families. The brain activity of middle school students was assessed using functional MRI (fMRI) with the test results showing that higher-income students had more working memory capacity than those in the lower-income group. This ground breaking study linking deficits in working memory to income also demonstrated how these differences impacted academic measures of achievement. The results are a critical step toward understanding the income-achievement gap and also in changing it. As Dr. Finn stresses, these study results can contribute to developing ways of helping lower-income students succeed. Read more in the U of T News.
> Brain research at the University of Toronto and the city as a whole took a giant step forward with the arrival of a magnetic resonance imaging scanner (MRI) at the Psychology Department. The MRI, whose acquisition was spearheaded by Psychology Chair Suzanne Ferber, will have a tremendous positive effect on the Department's scope of brain research, which include studies in development, memory, vision, perception, learning, emotions and more. Read more in the University of Toronto News.
> Psychology Postdoc Dan Re’s research on ‘selfies’ and what they say about self-perception and narcissism was published in the May 18, 2016 issue of the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal. The study “Selfie Indulgence: Self-Favoring Biases in Perceptions of Selfies” was conducted with input from 200 undergraduate students. In addition to completing a narcissistic personality survey and reporting on their selfie-taking behaviour, participants took photos of themselves and also posed for photos. They then rated the photos of themselves in terms of likeability and attractiveness. These selfies were then rated by another group of students. The results showed that those who reported frequent selfie-taking rated their own selfies higher than the rating they received from other people and that this was even true when the selfie-takers claimed to disliked the narcissism they associated with other people’s selfies. Dr. Re says the next step is a follow-up survey with a larger, more-diverse sample that looks at how one’s online presence can impact career advancement, personal relationships, and other instances when making a good impression is important. Read more in U of T Bulletin.
> May 10, 2016: It is with sadness that the Psychology Department announces the death of George Mandler this past weekend. George was a faculty member in our Department from 1960 to 1965. He was one of the founding members of the modern era of our Department and was a major contributor to work on memory, consciousness, and emotion. His many awards and honours include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the 1986 William James Book Award of the APA (Division of General Psychology). In 2004, The George Mandler Research Fund was established in his honour with the goal to promote and facilitate research at the undergraduate level in our Department. Our hearts go out to his family and close friends.
> Congratulations to Liz Howard, Psychology Department research officer, who has been short-listed for the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize. First awarded in 2001, the Griffin Prize is Canada’s foremost award for poetry. This year there are seven poets on the short list, four international and three Canadian poets, including Liz. The prizes will be awarded on June 2, 2016. Liz, manager for Psychology Department’s Hasher lab, is being recognized for her first book of poems Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent. In addition to her research work in cognition, Liz is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing from The University of Guelph. Well done, Liz, for this remarkable accomplishment. Read about the award in The Globe and Mail here.
> Congratulations to Psychology undergraduate students Bryan Hong, Anna Keshabyan and Valentina Mihajlovic. All three are active in Dr. Morgan Barense's research lab. Their accomplishments range from Bryan's co-authorship of an important research paper, Anna's conducting experiments on brain function and aging, to Valentina's role as lab manager for Dr. Barense. All three students got their start through Arts & Science Research Opportunity Program (ROP299), a program that offers hands-on, laboratory-based education for 2nd year students. With Dr. Barense acting as mentor, all three students has the opportunity to conduct research in a lab setting. Read more about the achievements of Bryan, Anna and Valentina and the ROP299 Program on the Arts & Science News page.
> The Psychology Department is pleased to announce that faculty member Dr. Christopher Honey has been awarded a 2016 Sloan Research Fellowship. This prestigious two-year fellowship is awarded to scientists in the early stages of their careers who have performed exceptionally and demonstrate the potential to make a major contribution to their respective area of study. Dr. Honey describes his research as follows: "Humans are able to combine information over multiple timescales: sequencesof phonemes are understood as words, sequences of words are understood assentences, and sequences of sentences are understood as an unfoldingnarrative . I study how brain networks are organized so that we canintegrate information over these multiple timescales." Read more about Chris's research in the U of T Bulletin and on the Arts & Science news page. Congratulations, Chris!
> University can be very stressful. Psychology Department special lecturer, Dr. Brenda Toner, believes mindfulness meditation classes can help to reduce stress and anxiety. Mindfulness is a way of thinking about just one thing at a time, of helping those practicing it to feel more grounded and centred … and less anxious. Dr. Toner and her mindfulness classes at the University of Toronto were the subject of a recent Toronto Star article, Stressed out students turn to mindful meditation. U of T offers 14 free drop-in classes on mindfulness meditation, attracting hundreds of students seeking to battle the toll that University, and life in general, can take. For information on mindfulness classes, go to http://www.studentlife.utoronto.ca/hwc/mindfulness. Dr. Toner also teaches a special topics course for the Psychology Department’s undergraduate program – PSY408HThe Psychology of Mindfulness: Theory, Empirical Evidence and Clinical Impact.
> Recent research by Psychology Post-Doctoral Fellow Daniel Re and his supervisor Faculty member Nick Rule, sheds light on shedding pounds, specifically how many pounds a person needs to lose before others find him or her more conventionally attractive. The study, written up in the Social Psychological and Personality Science academic journal in August, came up with a definite number (14 pounds for women and 18 pounds for men) for those trying to lose weight. Drs. Re and Rule, both with Uof T’s Social Perception and Cognition Lab, used 20 male and 20 female computer-generated faces and altered them to show how they would look at different body weights. Participants then assessed the faces on attractiveness, comparing them along the spectrum. Faces rather than other parts of the body were used in the study as these are immediately perceived by others and cannot be hidden or disguised under clothing. Dr. Re’s future research will investigate how much weight skinnier people need to gain before others find them more attractive. The study is covered in the December 16 issue of the Toronto Star. Read the full research paper here.
> In the December 2015 issue of the APA's Psychology and Aging, Psychology Faculty member, Dr. Alison Chasteen, writes about her research on aging and an individual’s self-perception of the aging process. Over 300 participants between the ages of 56 and 96, with differing abilities, were tested on memory, hearing, and their level of worry about getting older. Results demonstrated that a negative perception about getting older can translate into negative feelings about one’s performance which in turn leads to worse test results for memory and hearing compared to those participants with a positive self-assessment on aging. How you feel about your declining abilities can dictate how you react to them. This is the first time that memory, hearing and perception of aging are tied together in one study. The study also showed a link between hearing and memory performance, which could indicate that a failure to remember something may be a result of not hearing the request for information properly. Read about it in the Toronto Star, on U of T`s Faculty of Arts & Science website and in The Bulletin.
> Congratulations to Psychology program graduate, Winnie Lieu. Winnie is one of only eight from the University of Toronto named to the 'Highly Commended' list at this year’s Undergraduate Awards. To be included on this list a student's research or academic paper must be ranked in the top 10 per cent of more than 5,000 submissions. Award winners and highly commended entrants are invited to attend the Global Summit in Dublin starting November 10th where they participate in workshops and events geared towards enhancing their personal development, furthering their ideas and research, and strengthening their leadership skills. Read about Winnie's research in the U of T Bulletin.
> The Psychology Department is delighted to announce the recent hiring of two new Faculty members to St. George campus. Welcome Katherine and Amy. Read their short biographies below.
Katherine Duncan studies how the human brain forms and retrieves memories. Her work is currently focused on exploring the possibility that slow-acting neuromodulators bias how information is processed and stored in memory. Her lab will use multiple methods to assess this hypothesis, including behavioural manipulations, fMRI, pharmacology and neuropsychology. Katherine completed her PhD at New York University and then moved uptown to continue her training as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University. She started her academic career at UofT as an undergraduate student and is excited to return to the place where she first fell in love with the hippocampus. Hailing from a town of 300 in rural Ontario, Katherine has made it her mission in life to only live in places with public transit, spicy food, and diverse attitudes.
Amy Finn's research explores how the developing brain influences learning outcomes, either facilitating gains in learning or constraining them (like in language learning; why do adults have so much trouble?). To answer these questions, she studies domain-general aspects of development (focusing heavily on mnemonic systems) and uses a variety of experimental, training, and neuroimaging techniques; these include for example making up new languages, and scanning children’s brains. Amy comes to Toronto after completing her postdoc at MIT and her graduate work at UC Berkeley. While Amy loves to chat about brain development and learning, some other obsessions include painting/art-things, boot-camp-style-exercise, and all things related to raising little humans.
> We are pleased to announce the winners of the Psychology Department scholarships and awards for the 2014-15 academic year. A big congratulations goes out to all of our recipients!
- Linda Mamelak Undergraduate Award: Anna Petersson
- The McNab Scholarship in Psychology: Derek Berger/Rebecca Zhu
- The Psychology Graditude Scholarship: Chuqi Wang
- The Dept. of Psychology Student Award: Jason Ruggerberg
- The John D. Ketchum Memorial Scholarship: Kate Guan/Natalie Holtby
- The John D. Ketchum Memorial Bursary: Dylan Tucker/Louisa Man
- The Dr. Horace O. Frosty Steer Award: Erika Thauberger
> Faculty member Professor Alison Chasteen, an expert on prejudice and stereotyping, was interviewed by City News on September 17th. Her interview on ways to reduce prejudice and stereotyping follows the recent arrest and subsequent huge outpouring of support for a Texas Muslim youth whose school project - a clock - was mistaken for a bomb. Prejudice and stereotyping can be reduced when events and tragedies are personalized, as in the case of the Texas youth Ahmed and the photograph of a dead Syrian refugee child that went viral, Dr. Chasteen said. Through an increase in empathy, people are moved to reassess their attitudes. Watch Alison's interview in the news video on the City TV News website.
> The Psychology Department is proud to announce that Dr. Elizabeth Page-Gould was a recipient of the prestigious Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Research Awards (ERA) Program. Liz was awarded $140,000 toward her research on how to build rich multicultural societies that maximize individual thriving and active community-building. Through a combination of self-report, behavioural, psychophysiological, dyadic, longitudinal, and quantitative methods, Dr. Page-Gould investigates how thoughts and physiological responses during social interactions with people of diverse backgrounds affect the way we build social relationships and excel in diverse social environments. Congratulations, Liz.
> Ever compare your romantic partner to someone else’s? Recent research by graduate student Sabrina Thai and Faculty member Penelope Lockwood suggests that this is not necessarily a damaging activity. The key is a phenomenon called the ‘self-other overlap,’ the degree to which someone views their identity as overlapping with their partner’s. Through four studies using comparisons of partners’ attractiveness and relationship skills, Sabrina found that those with high self-other overlap (“My identity and my partner’s identity overlap a great deal”) minimize the implications of negative comparisons, while those with low self-other overlap (“My identity and my partner’s identity do not overlap much”) maximize negative partner perceptions after a threatening comparison. No fear though – Sabrina maintains that through practice there are ways to increase self-other overlap. These findings were published in the July 2015 issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and can be found here: Comparing You = Comparing Me: Social Comparisons of the Expanded Self. Read more in the Toronto Star and the University of Toronto Bulletin.
> Jacob Hirsh, former psychology graduate student and current Assistant Professor at the Rotman School of Management and UTM’s Institute for Management and Innovation, has found that populations’ extroversion levels correlate with their personal savings growth. Through three studies, Jacob showed that the more extroverted the population, the lower their savings rates tended to be. This is an extension of Jacob’s previous research, where he showed that on an individual basis, extroverts tend to struggle with delayed gratification; that is they choose immediate, smaller rewards instead of larger, delayed ones. Jacob argues that this can lead to impulsive financial decisions, making personality psychology a powerful contributor to understanding economic behaviour. His findings were published in the July 2015 issue of Personality and Individual Differences and can be found here. Read more in the University of Toronto Bulletin
> Graduate student Sabrina Thai was interviewed recently on CBC News about ongoing research into the psychology behind enhancing an athlete's performance. Sabrina is part of a team of scientists using a variety of methods to measure athletic performance with the goal of using the data to win medals. In one area of the research, University of Toronto athletes will complete surveys about their emotions after team practices and competitions in order to collect data on how relationships between team members affect a team's performance. Such research could then be used by team psychologists to improve performance, although the results would not be accessible to coaches. The research also looks at how personal problems can affect athletes. View the news clip with Sabrina's interview at http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/ID/2669375624/. It is also available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DzOzgIclRw.
> Psychology Faculty member and Graduate Chair Morris Moscovitch has received the 2015 JJ Berry Smith Doctoral Supervision Award in recognition of his outstanding performance in the multiple roles associated with graduate student supervision. To illustrate just some of Morris' accomplishments: over 30 former trainees from his lab are now professors or principal investigators at universities or research institutes across Canada, the United States, and across the globe and several of his trainees have won dissertation awards and/or early career awards. Our congratulations go out to Morris for receiving this well-deserved honour.
> Psychology Faculty member, Geoff MacDonald, looks at close relationships - closely. In his recent research paper “Resisting connection following social exclusion: rejection by an attractive suitor provokes derogation of an unattractive suitor” he looks at how women feel negatively about men they find unattractive when spurned by a man they consider attractive. This goes against common thinking and serves to preserve self-esteem after rejection. Conversely, when accepted by an attractive man, a woman will feel more positively toward those they consider unattractive. The paper, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, is based on two studies that assessed participants’ reactions toward men they rated as unattractive after they either faced rejection or were accepted by a man they deemed attractive. Read more in U of T’s Bulletin. Read the article here.
> Psychology graduate alumna Dr. Daniela Palombo, currently a post-doctoral researcher at Boston University School of Medicine, is lead author of a study on SDAM (severely deficient autobiographical memory), a condition manifested by the inability to remember personal events from ones past. For the ground breaking study, three adults with SDAM were examined in a lab setting with brain imaging and memory testing – a unique opportunity for researchers. Brian Levine, Psychology cross-appointee and co-author on the paper, equates this memory syndrome to living life in the third person. The study results showed brain differences, including the size of the hippocampus which plays an important role in memory, in the SDAM cases compared to control subjects. Read more about this study in U of T's Bulletin here. The study in published in Neuropsychologia.
> Nicholas Rule is the recipient of the 2015 Early Career Award given biennially by the International Academy for Intercultural Relations (IAIR). The IAIR chose Nick unanimously for this award which honours the achievements of young, developing researchers in the fields of intercultural and cross-cultural research. Nick's research in social perception and social cognition, specifically person perception, person construal, and social categorization, focuses on all the important themes for intercultural relations. Congratulations to Nick on receiving this important award. Read the IAIR Committee Chair's announcement about the award here.
> Psychology's Dirk Bernhardt-Walther was interviewed for CBC's The National about the dress (a viral internet phenomenon that had people all over the world debating the colours of a cocktail dress. Was it white and gold OR blue and black?.) Dr. Bernhardt-Walther, whose area of research is visual perception, explains the science behind the debate. The interview was aired on February 27. Watch Dirk and the dress debate at https://www.youtube.com/embed/wrzgsZfkUeY.
> Graduate Faculty member Dr. Brian Levine has been selected for the International Neuropsychological Society (INS) Benton Mid-Career Award for Research. He will receive the award at the February 2015 meeting of the INS in Denver. The Arthur Benton Award was established by the INS Board in 1982 and is awarded to a mid-career level researcher 11-23 years after the completion of their PhD. The award is based on the individual’s scope of work including contribution to neuropsychological science, an established and accelerating career path, international reputation, majority of publications in peer reviewed journals and a constant relationship with the INS.
> In the Spence Lab, Brian Pereira and Natasha Ouslis have been successful in an application to the Undergraduate Research Fund (URF} of the Faculty of Arts & Science. The URF is intended to foster the research experience by providing undergraduate students with an opportunity to develop a research project of their own. Their proposed project will focus on exploring gender differences in Shepard-Metzler mental rotation by comparing performance using the original S-M objects with performance using specially modified versions of the objects. Natasha and Brian were awarded $1,470 which will be used for SPSS licences, participant compensation, and registration fees at the 2015 APA Convention. Congratulations to Natasha and Brian.
> Congratulations to Psychology student Shayne Sanscartier for receiving the James Mark Baldwin award for best essay in PSY409H (Research Specialization: Theoretical Foundations). Each year, the Baldwin prize recognizes exceptional essays written by Psychology Research Specialists that demonstrate mastery of foundational issues in psychology. Shayne's essay, entitled 'A History of Epistemological Violence: The Importance of Sociohistorical Analysis in the Understanding of Cultural Identity' is an incisively argued critique of how some epistemological perspectives in psychology may conceal or even perpetuate cultural or racial prejudice and bias. Well done Shayne! .
> Faculty member Dr. Morgan Barense has been elected recipient of the Early Investigator Award from the Society of Experimental Psychologists. As such, she is now a Lifetime Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, the oldest and most prestigious honorary society in experimental psychology, and she will join a highly select group of distinguished empirical scientists. The membership elects only a handful of Fellows each year, one of which can be the Early Investigator. Congratulations to Morgan on this exceptional and well-deserved honour!
> At the Fall 2014 Dr. Freud Competition hosted by the PSA Academic Committee, the Hippie-Surfers team won against the largest cohort of the past few years. Team members Katherine Tran, Sera Timbebu, Rosalie Cao,Britt Gordeen, Phillip Savic, Meraj Ellahi, and Aisha Assan-Lebbe battled through the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and final round to earn the title of trivia competition winners. Congratulations! A fun (and educational) time was had by all and our hats go off to all who participated. And thank-you to Dr. Dolderman for being the host with the most.
> Department of Psychology Major Program graduate, Michael Scarpitti, and Psychology Specialist Program graduate, Florence Chan were among nine University of Toronto graduates named to the Highly Commended list at this year’s Undergraduate Awards, a global competition that takes part in Dublin. Congratulations Michael and Florence! Read more at http://news.utoronto.ca/nine-u-t-students-invited-dublin-undergraduate-awards.
> Graduate Student Samantha Joel is the lead researcher in a two-part study with U of T and Yale that compares the difference between hypothetically rejecting an undesirable suitor and the difficulty of such rejection in a 'real' situation. Participants in the study, who were lead to believe that there was an actual suitor 'waiting in the wings' to meet them, reported that the reluctance to hurt the would-be romantic partner's feelings was the reason for accepting an unwanted invitation. The study titled People overestimate their willingness to reject potential romantic partners by overlooking their concern for other people was published in Psychological Science Online First site at http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/recent. Read more in the University of Toronto Bulletin.
> Post-doctoral fellow Ryan Stephenson, working with Susanne Ferber and Morgan Barense, presented research at the 2014 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting demonstrating language inefficiency in participants with autism. Through studies where subjects with autism and control subjects listened to videos of a woman speaking 1) with the sound and lip movement in sync and 2) with the sound and lip movement not in sync, results show control subjects use more comparative efficiency in listening to the in sync video than those with autism. This efficiency disparity only turns up in the context of language and not with non-speech sounds, as the study also showed. Read more.
> On November 12, Dr. Martin Seligman received the inaugural TANG Prize for Achievements in Psychology. The Prize was presented by the TANG Foundation and the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto. This award honours an internationally recognized scholar in Psychology whose record of achievement has left an indelible mark on the field, particularly in its application to the psychological wellbeing of humanity. Dr. Seligman is reknown for his pioneering role in forming the new field of Positive Psychology. The event took place at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. Following the award ceremony Dr. Seligman gave a talk entitled Positive Psychology The Cutting Edge. A video recording of the talk is available here. Read more in the U of T Bulletin.
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM EVENT
> Psychology graduate student, Davood Ghara Gozli’s, research on the chronic playing of video action games and its effect on the coordination of vision with hand movement indicates that gamers learn a new sensorimotor skill more quickly than non-gamers. The study, led by Davood with supervisor Professor Jay Pratt, involved experiments with groups of video game players and non-players. The results suggest that benefits of playing games such as Call of Duty may enhance the ability to learn new sensorimotor tasks – skills important in tasks requiring high precision manual control such as laparoscopic surgery. Read more about Davood`s research in the University of Toronto Bulletin.
> Psychology undergraduate student Natasha Ouslis has been chosen to receive the 2014 Joel Verwegen Undergraduate Research Award at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI) of the University Health Network. The award will be formally presented to Natasha at the annual TRI Research Day on December 1st. Natasha is a volunteer researcher with Professor Emeritus Ian Spence and Dr. Jennifer Campos, Director of the Challenging Environmental Assessment Laboratory at TRI. Natasha is currently working with Spence, Campos, and Psychology graduate student Julia Cistera, on a cognitive training experiment with older drivers. As a Research Opportunity Program (ROP) student in 2013-2014, she presented a poster, with fellow ROP students Brain Pereira (Psychology specialist) and Jason Jeong, at this year’s annual CSBBCS Conference. In addition, Natasha volunteers in Professor Susanne Ferber’s Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. Congratulations, Natasha! Ouslis, N.E., Pereira, B.J., Jeong, J.Y., & Spence, I. (2014). Attention and visuospatial working memory in mental rotation. Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science (CSBBCS) Conference. Toronto, Canada. July 3-5, 2014
> Donald Stuss, Psychology graduate faculty member, is the recipient of the prestigious Gold Key Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. Dr. Stuss, president of the Ontario Brain Institute, is one of the world's leading neuropsychologists. He was awarded the 2014 Gold Key Award in recognition of extraordinary service in the field of rehabilitation. Read an interview with Dr. Stuss in U of T's Bulletin.
> The Psychology Department is pleased to announce the winners of the Department scholarships and awards for the 2013-14 academic year. A big congratulations goes out to all of the recipients!The Psychology Department is pleased to announce the winners of the Department scholarships and awards for the 2013-14 academic year. A big congratulations goes out to all of the recipients!
- Linda Mamelak Undergraduate Award: Ilona Larionova
- The McNab Scholarship in Psychology: Chuqing Yang
- The George Mandler Research Fund: Kate Wahl/Ravin Alaei
- The Psychology Graditude Scholarship: Nadia Huytan-Maruschak
- The Dept. of Psychology Student Award: Henry Liu
- The John D. Ketchum Memorial Scholarship: Catherine Thompson-Walsh/Michelle Hu
- The John D. Ketchum Memorial Bursary: Mari Rossi/Yasaman Ghodse-Elahi
- The Dr. Horace O. Frosty Steer Award: Adeoye Oyefiade
> It is with great pleasure that the TANG Foundation and the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto announce that Dr. Martin Seligman has been chosen as the recipient of the inaugural TANG Prize for Achievements in Psychology. This prize honours an internationally recognized scholar in Psychology whose record of achievement has left an indelible mark on the field, particularly in its application to the psychological wellbeing of humanity. Amidst excellent nominations, Dr. Seligman stood out for his pioneering role in forming the new field of Positive Psychology. The award ceremony will be held on November 12, 2014, when Dr. Seligman, will give a talk entitled Positive Psychology The Cutting Edge. Details on the talk are available on our Events page (registration is required).
The Psychology Department is delighted to announce the recent hiring of five new Faculty members to St. George campus. Welcome Liz, Suzanne, Daphna, Dirk and John. Read their short biographies below.
Dirk Bernhardt-Walther, Assistant Professor: As Dirk Bernhardt-Walther’s research explores the neural mechanisms of real-world scenes, he looks forward to exploring the real-world cityscape of Toronto. After receiving his Ph.D. in Computation and Neural Systems from Caltech, he did postdoctoral research at York University and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He started his first own lab at The Ohio State University, before moving to the University of Toronto in 2014. Dirk and his lab employ visual psychophysics, eye tracking and functional magnetic resonance imaging as well as computational modeling in order to decode how our brain manages to make sense of the complex visual information around us. Dirk is accompanied his wife Karen, who is joining the Department of Economics at U of T, and their two young children.
Daphna Buchsbaum, Assistant Professor: Daphna's research investigates the complex interplay between social and causal reasoning: How children, adults and non-human animals use social information to help them understand the physical world. Daphna comes to Toronto after a year as a research fellow at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, where she worked with monkeys and chimpanzees at the Edinburgh Zoo. Daphna completed her PhD in 2013 in the UC Berkeley Psychology department, along with a master's degree in statistics. In her non-academic life, Daphna and her dog Pumpkin have trained as a wilderness search and rescue team with the California Rescue Dog Association. While in Scotland, Daphna discovered her alternative career by participating in Bright Club, a group of academics performing stand-up comedy about their research, and hopes to bring Bright Club to the University of Toronto (get in touch if you're intrigued!).
Elizabeth Page-Gould, Associate Professor: Elizabeth Page-Gould is a social psychophysiologist who examines how social interactions with diverse friends and strangers affect the way people understand the social world. Liz’s research takes a multi-method approach to social interaction, typically combining self-report, behavioural, physiological, dyadic, and longitudinal methods. Liz received bachelors degrees in psychology and statistics from Carnegie Mellon University before completing her PhD at the University of California Berkeley. She continued her training in psychophysiology at Harvard University as a Mind/Brain/Behavior Postdoctoral Fellow prior to joining the faculty at the University of Toronto. Outside of academia, Liz is easily amused by living things and by living itself.
John Vervaeke, Lecturer: Dr. John Vervaeke has been teaching at the University of Toronto since 1994. He currently teaches courses in the cognitive science program including Introduction to Cognitive Science, and the Cognitive Science of Consciousness; courses in the Psychology department on thinking and reasoning with an emphasis on insight problem solving, cognitive development with an emphasis on the dynamical nature of development, and higher cognitive processes with an emphasis on intelligence, rationality, and the psychology of wisdom. He also teaches courses in the Buddhism, psychology and Mental Health program on Buddhism and Cognitive Science, and the Science of Mindfulness Meditation. He has won and been nominated for several teaching awards including the 2001 Students' Administrative Council and Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students Teaching Award for the Humanities, and the 2012 Ranjini Ghosh Excellence in Teaching Award. His most recent publications include Relevance Realization the Emerging Framework in Cognitive Science (2012) with Tim Lillicrap and Blake Richards, a chapter in The Scientific Study of Personal Wisdom entitled Relevance, Meaning, and the Cognitive Science of Wisdom (2012) with Leo Ferraro, and a chapter in SmartData: Privacy meet evolutionary robotics, with Leo Ferraro entitled Relevance Realization and the Neurodynamics and Neuroconnectivity of General Intelligence (2013). His research interests are relevance realization, insight problem solving, general intelligence, consciousness, mindfulness, rationality, and wisdom. His abiding passion is to address the meaning crisis that besets western culture.
Suzanne Wood, Lecturer: Suzanne received her BA from University of California, Berkeley and her PhD from University of California, San Diego. She moved to Toronto from New York City, where she recently completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University. Her research explores the role of dopamine in learning and memory, using behavioural, pharmacological, and imaging techniques. At UCSD, Suzanne enjoyed teaching both lower and upper division Psychology courses. She also held informal MATLAB programming meetings in the Psychology department at Columbia, and assisted in the neuroanatomy training of its med school students. Suzanne has worn a variety of hats throughout her career, and could potentially be able to help you with your Latin grammar, rollerskating abilities, or movie review inquiries. She is excited to join the faculty at U of T and to teach courses within the Biology and Behaviour area.
The Psychology Department is very pleased to announce that Susanne Ferber has been named Undergraduate Chair effective July 1, 2014. Professor Ferber has been interim Chair since July 1, 2013 before which she served as Director of our Graduate Program. Susanne, who hails from Germany, completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Osnabrück in Germany and her doctorate at both Osnabrück and the University Hospital Tübingen. After receiving her PhD, Susanne moved to Canada for a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Western Ontario. She joined U of T's Psychology faculty in 2002 in the area of Perception/Cognition/Cognitive Neuroscience.
The Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto is pleased to announce the call for nominations for the 2014 inaugural TANG Prize for Achievements in Psychology. Applications are encouraged from internationally-recognized scholars in Psychology or a closely-related field who have shown creativity, and rigor in their approach and whose record of achievement has left an indelible mark on the field. Please note that the deadline for applications is August 15, 2014. This award has been made possible through generous support from the TANG Foundation. The TANG Foundation is a charitable institution with the mandate to raise awareness of the importance of psychological wellbeing in the world. For more information on the TANG Prize and how to apply, go to http://psych.utoronto.ca/tangprize/.
Faculty member Alison Chasteen has just been named as a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America in the Behavioral and Social Sciences Section. The GSA is the largest organizations in the United States dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of aging. In a July 1, 2014 press release the status of fellow is described as "the highest class of membership within the Society" and that being named as a fellow "is an acknowledgment of outstanding and continuing work in gerontology". We congratulate Alison on this achievement. New fellows will be formally recognized during GSA’s 67th Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 5 to 9 in Washington, DC. Read the press release here.
Faculty member Nicholas Rule is featured in a front page article in the Toronto Star (June 24, 2014). The article discusses Dr. Rule's research on how people can correctly judge someone's sexual orientation 65% of the time after seeing a face for less than 40 milliseconds. The aim of this research, which involves using photos of unadorned individuals who self-identify as either gay or straight (other sexual orientations are a subject of other research), is to look at how such judgments can affect, unconsiously, the decision-making process in a negative way. Dr. Rule will be presenting his research as part of WorldPride at the Bloor/Gladstone library on Wednesday, June 25th at 7 pm.
A research study on the impact of sleep quality on burnout among oncology nurse, conducted by Psychology graduate student, Daniela Bellicoso, has recently been published in the Journal of Nursing Education and Practice, Sciedu Press. Using standardized testing, the impact of participants' chronotypes (regular rising time and bed time) and sleep quality were assessed together with subjective measurements of job satisfaction and work stressfulness on burnout. The results showed a significantly higher level of personal, work-related, and client-related burnout for those than individuals with evening-type or neither-type chronotype and/or poor sleep quality. Study results illustrate that working at one’s optimal time and obtaining good quality sleep contributes to decreased burnout. Read the article here.
The Psychology Department is proud to announce that Dr. Morgan Barense and Dr. Kaori Takehara-Nishiuchi were both successful award winners of the prestigious Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Research Awards Program. Both Morgan and Kaori were awarded $140,000 toward their important research into Alzheimer`s disease, one of the biggest health challenges in Ontario today. Morgan's research project Understanding Memory Disorders: Why Does Brain Damage Impair Memory? seeks to clarify the link between brain damage and the complex cognitive problems seen in memory disorders, thus opening new possibilities for improved diagnostic techniques and rehabilitative strategies in memory disorders. Kaori`s research project entitled Organization of Cortical Memory Network in Health and Disease aims to uncover physiological mechanisms of memory and their dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease, with such insights translating into early interventions to diagnose, halt or even reverse the progression of this debilitating disease. In addition to Morgan and Kaori, UTM faculty member Dr. Emily Impett received an ERA award for her research on relationships. Emily's project Do You See What I See? The Relationship Benefits of Accurately Perceiving a Partner’s Emotions in Daily Life will develop a new digital media tool to study empathic accuracy in daily life, with test studies on how such empathy translates into tangible relationship benefits. Congratulations to Morgan, Kaori and Emily!
Incoming Faculty member, Daphna Buchsbaum, has been awarded $100,000 by the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF) in support of her research on computational approaches to causal and social learning in children and animals. The fund, which has just awarded a total of $3,134,307 to U of T researchers, is named for the Dr. John R. Evans, former U of T president. Dr. Buchsbaum will join the Psychology Department in July 2014. Read more.
A study conducted by Dr. Gabriela Ilie, Sessional Lecturer with the Psychology Department, on traumatic brain injury (TBI) in teenagers has just been published in the April 2014 edition of PLOS ONE. The study looks at how brain injury in teenagers increases the incidence of attempted suicide, being bullied and engaging in high risk behaviours. As well, the study shows that teenagers who experienced TBI are more likely to become bullies themselves and to seek counselling through a crisis help-line. Dr. Ilie says physicians, schools, parents and coaches need to be vigilant in monitoring adolescents with TBI, as it can exacerbate mental health and behavioural issues. Read more in U of T's Bulletin.
Congratulations to Kyle Cleversey for receiving the James Mark Baldwin Award for Best Essay in PSY 409S (Research Specialization: Theoretical Foundations). Kyle's essay, entitled "Deconstructing Mental Illness: Conceptual and Practical Concerns" is an incisively argued critique of the construct of mental illness and its application in psychological theorizing and research. Well done Kyle!
Professor Douglas Creelman 1933-2014
The Psychology Department is saddened to announce the passing, on February 9, 2014, of one of its longest serving faculty members. Douglas Creelman joined our faculty in 1964 and has been Professor Emeritus since 1999. As Emeritus, Doug continued to teach first year seminar courses, and was a favourite instructor for this program. In fact, he continued to teach up until his fall on the ice in January 2014. He also continued to curate his beloved Museum, now a virtual presence on this website. Doug will be missed by faculty, staff and students. Our condolences go out to his family. Doug's obituary can be found here.
Psychology Department Welcomes New Faculty Member, Christopher Honey
Christopher Honey is a cognitive neuroscientist who studies large-scale neural dynamics, asking how brain regions communicate and how memory arises in hierarchical brain processes. Born and raised in southern Africa, Chris studied mathematics and literature at the University of Cape Town, obtained his PhD in psychology and cognitive science from Indiana University, and completed postdoctoral training at Princeton University. He looks forward to teaching and studying brain function from computational, clinical and cognitive perspectives. Welcome Chris!
Psychology Graduate Students Featured in U of T's 2013 News in Review
Psychology graduate students Nadia Bashir and Stephanie Spielmann were featured in the U of T New's article Year in review: top stories from 2013. Nadia's research on stereotyping of activists was given special notice under U of T in the media and Stephanie's research on relationships and the fear of being single, received recognition under Great 2013 Research Stories at U of T. Congratulations to Nadia and Stephanie! And read more about our Department's achievements in the news items below.
A paper written by Psychology former graduate student and current postdoctoral fellow, Stephanie Spielmann, discusses how the fear of being single can predict the tendency of both men and women to settle for less in a romantic relationship. Results of a North American-wide survey demonstrate that the fear of being alone can result in individuals staying in an unhappy and/or unhealthy relationship even when they are aware of this very fact. Stephanie's hope is that such research results will help people make better relationship decisions. The research paper, co-authored by Psychology faculty member Geoff MacDonald is published in the December 2013 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Read more in U of T's Bulletin and CBC News.
Psychology prof Morgan Barense and two of her graduate students, Rachel Newsome and Lok-Kin Yeung, received special mention in U of T's Arts & Science 2013 Year in Review. In the words of former Dean Meric Gertler, the publication features "a snapshot of the impressive achievements of our faculty, staff and students". The article on Dr. Barense and her students, found on page 12 of the Review, focuses on the trios research on how reducing visual clutter may help Alzheimer’s patients recognize familiar objects. Congratulations to Morgan, Rachel and Lok-Kin. Also mentioned in the Review on page 25 is Psychology's own William Cunningham, who received the IUPsyS Young Investigator’s Award (Basic Science) from the Milde International Union of Psychological Science.
Psychology Professor Ian Spence and his team of researchers have a warning about the serious potential distraction of using cell phones and other devices while driving. It's dangerous! In three separate experiments, Dr. Spence's research demonstrates how performing difficult speech tasks while driving slows response time by close to one second - a significant difference that could mean involvement in a serious accident, or not. Furthermore, Dr. Spence states that about his experiments that “It did not matter whether the subject spoke the answer aloud or simply thought about the answer. It was the thinking, not speaking, that caused them to slow down.” Dr. Spence's paper, "How speech modifies visual attention" was published in the September/October 2013 issue of Applied Cognitive Psychology. Read more in the U of T Bulletin.
Research by graduate student Nadia Bashir on how the negative stereotype of activists can undermine their influence is garnering interational attention. Nadia is the lead writer of a research paper on how the stereotyping of environmentalists and feminists as eccentric and militant can, at times, create substantial resistance to their cause from the public, who do not wish to be associated with these perceived 'types', however inaccurate. The study results will be published in European Journal of Social Psychology. Nadia's research is co-written with faculty members, Penelope Lockwood and Alison Chasteen, Indra Noyes and The University of Waterloo’s Daniel Nadolny. For more on this study and its results, read a National Post interview with Nadia, and articles in the UK's Daily Mail and Salon.
Psychology faculty member Gillian Einstein has received funding from the Canadian Breast Canada Foundation (CBCF) to study what happens to women’s cognition, including memory and attention, after their ovaries are removed. Women who carry the BRCA1 or 2 mutations, which increase the risk of cancer, are often counselled to have their ovaries removed as a preventative measre. Dr. Einstein believes that they need. and have the right, to know how this will affect them in order to make a properly informed decision. Her study will fill the need for more research on the effect of ovarian removal on cognition. The study will eventually follow 275 women over 10 years. Read more in the U of T Bulletin.
Faculty Awards: The International Social Cognition Network (ISCON) has announced that the winner of its 2013 Early Career Award is Nicholas Rule. Dr. Rule was chosen based on his impressive productivity, the high rate with which his work is being cited - demonstrating its clear influence on the field - and the creativity and importance of the topics he has tackled in his research. Morgan Barense has won the McDonnell Scholar Award in Understanding Human Cognition, a prestigious award that was given to only eight early-stage researchers worldwide. Congratulations Nick and Morgan!
The Department of Psychology has two mobile research labs available for rent. Pictures and further information are available at http://human.cbtc.utoronto.ca/mobilelabs.
The Dept of Psychology is please to announce, the 2013 Psychology In-Course Scholarship/Award Recipients:
1. Linda Mamelak Undergraduate Award: Winnie Lieu
2. The McNab Scholarship in Psychology: Clara Ho
3. The George Mandler Research Fund: Maryna Pilkiw
4. The Psychology Graditude Scholarship: Alexandr Milovanov
5. The Dept. of Psychology Student Award: Kate Wahl
6. The John Davidson Ketchum Memorial Scholarship: Chuqing Yang
7. The John Davidson Ketchum Memorial Bursary: Beatrice Bejan
Congratulations to all of our students!
If you are interested in knowing more about these awards, please visit our website at: ttp://home.psych.utoronto.ca/undergraduate/awards.htm#undergrad
As well as the Arts & Science website at:
Congratulations to the following Psychology undergraduate students who received various awards over the past academic year!
Clara Ho (PSY Res Spec) - James Mark Baldwin Essay Award for Best Essay in PSY409 (Research Specialization: Theoretical Foundations in Psychology)
2013 PSY NSERC USRA Recipients: Beatrice Bejan, Kyle Cleversey, Daniel Glizer, Chun-Ping Hsu and Maryna Pilkiw
2013 PSY UTEA Recipients: Amrita Lamba, Jenny Shen, Chuqing Yang and Yue Zhang
Non-PSY, UofT Awards :
Ariana Zeppieri-Makhan (PSY Major) - Marion & Ross Woodman Award (New College)
Syed Hasan (PSY Major) - Queen Elizabeth II Aiming for the Top Scholarship
Isabella Costa (PSY Specialist) - The Alen Milne McCombie Scholarship and Max Weber Award
Clara Ho (PSY Research Specialist) - Isabel Bader Scholarship for Academic Excellence and Community Leadership through Victoria College (renewed)
Chantale Spencer (PSY Major) - 2012 Summer UTEA in Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development at OISE
You have heard of TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Talks - a series of short, entertaining lectures on a wide range of topics. TEDx events are similar in nature, but are managed by independent organizations licensed by TED. On May 18th, the first University of Toronto-wide TEDx event, organized by students and bringing a complement of U of T professors together, took place at Hart House. Included in this auspicious roster of speakers was Dan Dolderman , John Vervaeke and Jordan Peterson , all from the Psychology St. George campus. These talks will be available online shortly at http://www.tedxuoft.com/. Stay tuned! And read more about this event and the TEDx student initiative here.
Congratulations to Psychology PhD graduate Taylor Schmitz! Taylor is a recipient of the University of Toronto 2013 Governor General's Gold Medal. This very prestigious award dates back to 1873 when Lord Dufferin, Canada’s third Governor General after Confederation, created what was then the Academic Medals to encourage academic excellence across Canada. Taylor iwll be presented with the award at an awards ceremony on May 29th in Convocation Hall.
Daniel Lee, Psychology graduate student, has just published research demonstrating that wide-eyed fearful expressions can be beneficial - for the individual and for observers. Vision scope is increased when eyes widen, as is the ability for others to figure out where the wide-eyed gaze is directed, very useful for detecting danger, although this wide-eyed benefit does not only apply to fearful expressions. Dan's research, which further confirms how socially connected we are, was completed in collaboration with Faculty member, Adam Anderson, and University of California's Joshua Susskind (former U of T psychology graduate). The study is currently published on the Psychological Science website. More information: APS news release. University of Toronto News.
The Psychology Department's Chair, Jay Pratt, has been named Arts & Science Vice-Dean, Research and Infrastructure. His appointment will begin June 1, 2013 and continue to June 30, 2019. Dr. Pratt, who is currenly Acting Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life, has been with the Psychology Department since 1996, becoming Chair of the Department in 2008. You can find more information about Jay, his impressive background in psychology, his research interests, and his new appointment here. Congratulations, Dr. Pratt!
Psychology's Gillian Einstein, Director of U of T's Collaborative Graduate Program in Women's Health, was interviewed on CBC's Metro Morning about the Women's Brain Health Intiative with the Initiative's founder, Lynn Posluns. Listen to the interview with Matt Galloway here.
Graduate student Sijing Wu is lead writer of a research paper published in the March 2013 edition of the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics on the link between video game playing and enhanced visual search skills . The paper, written with Ian Spence, Professor Emeritas, builds on previous research demonstrating that playing video games, even for a short period of time, can enhance visual attention. Expanding on these earlier studies, this new research shows that when participants played either shooter or driving video games for only 10 hours, the result was increased accuracy performing visual search tasks. Practical implications include the development of training tools to improve perceptual and cognitive skills. Read more in the U of T Bulletin. Read the full research paper here.
Dr. Morgan Barense was just named one of the University of Toronto's new Canadian Research Chairs, receiving CRC funding for her research in cognitive neuroscience. The CRC funding of $18.7 million is for 23 new and renewed Canada Research Chairs. Congratulations, Morgan! Read more in U of T's Bulletin here.
The University of Toronto mourns the death of former UTSC Psychology Department Chair, John Bassili. As the first Chair of the Department, Dr. Bassili made a huge contribution to its development and growth. He was also a driving force between the creation of UTSC's Graduate Department of Psychological Clinical Science, which will be welcoming its first students in September 2013. John Bassili remembered.
Psychology faculty member, Jordan Peterson, former graduate student, Jacob Hirsh, and former psychology undergraduate research specialist, Megan Walberg, are co-authors on a paper about the link between spiritualism and political views, published in the journal Social Pschology and Personality Science. The studies show that increased spiritualism can lead to increased political liberalism. Both conservatives and liberals alike supported more liberal political views after guided spiritual practice. Further, the results confirmed that religiousness was associated with political conservatism, while spirituality was associated with political liberalism. U of T Bulletin article. Read the article here.
Graduate student, Samantha Joel, who does relationship research, was quoted in a Valentine's Day CBC News item about finding love, not with a 'perfect' match, but with someone who understands you. The news piece discusses research on internet dating and on what decisions people make about their romantic relationsihps. While common goals can be very important, Joel says, "A couple can be very dissimilar and make it work." Read the news item here.
Three of the University of Toronto Bulletin's Top Ten Stories of 2012 focused on the work done by members of the Psychology Department. These include research by graduate student Renée Biss on the benefits of 'early to bed, early to rise' , Dr. Gillian Einstein's co-written paper on the relationship, or lack thereof, between PMS and mood, and UTM Professor Emily Impett's collaborative study on Facebook images and what they say about relationships. Read about these top stories in The Bulletin.
Psychology Chair, Dr. Jay Pratt, has been named Acting Vice-Provost, Faculty and Academic Life for a 6-month term. In his absence Dr. Susanne Ferber will serve as Acting Chair. Jay will be returning in July 2014 to take up a second term as Chair. Congratulations all round!
MORE NEWS IS AVAILABLE ON OUR PAST NEWS WEB PAGE!