University of Vermont

College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Psychological Science

Department of Psychological Science Colloquia
2007-08

Every year the Department of Psychological Science hosts a variety of colloquia in which distinguished national and international scholars visit UVM to discuss their research. Our colloquia are open to all, though some require prior registration due to limited seating.

Lisa Diamond, Ph.D.

Lisa Diamond Associate Professor Psychology and Gender Studies
Department of Psychology
Univerisity of Utah
Cox McNeil Speaker Series
How Do I Love Thee? Rethinking the Nature and Development of Same-Sex Love and Desire
April 25, 2008

Historically, research on same-sex sexuality has presumed neat and tidy distinctions between heterosexual and homosexual individuals, as well as neat and tidy correspondences /between experiences of sexual attraction and experiences of romantic love.

In this presentation, Dr. Diamond reviews results from her ongoing longitudinal qualitative study of sexual-minority (i.e., nonheterosexual) women, now in its 12th year, demonstrating that many of these long-standing presumptions are woefully out of date. Dr. Diamond reviews evidence suggesting that /female sexuality, in particular, has a capacity for fluidity that has long been unappreciated. She also discusses evolved biobehavioral features of the attachment system that may contribute to female sexual fluidity. Dr. Diamond's research has implications for future investigations of sexuality, emotion, and interpersonal relationships.

Jane Stewart, Ph.D.

Jane Stewart Professor and University Research Chair in Behavioral Neuroscience
Concordia University
Dennis Repole Memorial Lecture
Pathways to Relapse: Efforts to Study the Neurobiology of Relapse
April 18, 2008

Relapse, the resumption of drug taking after periods of abstinence, remains the major problem for the treatment of addiction. Even when drugs are unavailable for long periods of time or when users are successful in curbing their own drug use for extended periods, individuals remain vulnerable to events that precipitate relapse, such as drug-related stimuli, drugs themselves, and stressors.

Molecular, neurochemical and anatomical studies have identified several lasting neural changes that arise from mere exposure to the drugs and to others that come about through learning the relation between drug-taking environments and the effects of the drugs. Chronic drug exposure appears to increase sensitivity of some systems of the brain to the actions of drugs and to stressors. These changes combined with those underlying conditioning and learning perpetuate vulnerability to drug-related stimuli.

This lecture will review advances in our understanding of how these systems mediate the effects of events that precipitate relapse to drug seeking and of how lasting changes in these systems can perpetuate vulnerability to relapse.

John Ruscio, Ph.D.

John Ruscio Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
The College of New Jersey
Hosted by The Department of Psychology
Cox McNeil Speaker Series
Evaluating the Robustness of Taxometric Analysis Using a Refined Technique for Generating Comparison Data
April 11, 2008

Many simulation studies suggest that taxometric analysis can validly assess the relative fit of taxonic (categorical) and dimensional (continuous) structural models. The generation and parallel analysis of taxonic and dimensional comparison data sets appears to maximize the validity with which these structures can be differentiated.

The present study takes advantage of developments in the generation of comparison data to examine the robustness of taxometric analyses to suboptimal data conditions. Very large comparison data sets are treated as populations from which many samples are drawn randomly, placing the method on a firmer statistical foundation and increasing its run-time efficiency. The validity with which taxometric results distinguished taxonic and dimensional data was consistent with prior findings under conditions studied before, and robust across novel manipulations of asymmetry, tail weight, and heterogeneous variances. Analyses and discussion focus on the practical implications for taxometric investigations.

Paul Frick, Ph.D.

Paul Frick Research Professor and Chair
Department of Psychology
University of New Orleans
Cox McNeil Speaker Series
Developmental Pathways to Conduct Disorder: Implications for Understanding and Preventing Aggression in Youth
March 28, 2008

This colloquium will describe recent research on the development of callous-unemotional CU traits (e.g., lack of guilt and empathy, callous use of others) and its implications for understanding the many different pathways through which children and adolescents may develop a propensity to act in an antisocial and aggressive manner.

The colloquium will be divided into three parts. The first part will focus on the measurement and stability of CU traits. The second part will focus on the ability of CU traits to predict delinquency, aggression, and violence in various samples of children and adolescents. The third part will focus on the unique cognitive and emotional characteristics of antisocial youth with and without CU traits and their implications for causal models of antisocial and aggressive behavior.

Alexi Potter, Ph.D

Alexi Potter Research Assistant Professor
Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit
Department of Psychiatry
University of Vermont College of Medicine
Cox McNeil Speaker Series
The Role of the Cholinergic System in the Cognitive Symptoms of ADHD
October 26, 2007

The strong association between ADHD and cigarette smoking and the known effects of nicotine on cognition has lead to interest in the role of cholinergic function, the cognitive symptoms of ADHD. Recent research examining the effects of acute nicotine on cognitive processes relevant to ADHD in adolescents and the young adults will be reviewed. Understanding the link between nicotine and cognition in ADHD may shed light on the vulnerability t smoking for adolescents with ADHD.

Teodor Postolache, M.D.

Teodor Postolache Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Director of the Mood and Anxiety Program
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Hosted by The Department of Psychology
Cox McNeil Speaker Series
Broad and shallow vs. Deep and Narrow: Environmental Vulnerabilities and Triggers in Mood Disorders
October 5, 2007

The presentation will explore potential triggers and vulnerabilities for mood disorders, making a case for multi disciplinary and concentric approaches for establishing associations and making causal inferences.

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