News

Neurocognition and Perception Laboratory: Research Highlights

The Neurocognition and Perception (NCaP) Laboratory, directed by Lisa Sanders, aims to 1) understand the neurocognitive mechanisms of basic auditory perception, speech perception, and selective attention across the lifespan, and 2) to determine how attentional control and perceptual learning can lead to better perceptual outcomes, including understanding speech in background noise. To accomplish these goals, the lab uses behavioral, electrophysiological, and neuroimaging measures in listeners ranging from 20 months to 85 years of age.

Cognitive and Neural Measures of Childhood Language Processing and Speech Comprehension in Natural Settings

Maggie Ugolini, graduate student in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program, is conducting a study aiming to better understand real-world language processing (or comprehension) in 5-year-old children. When a child comes to the lab to participate in a study he/she will wear a cap that measures the electrical activity of their brain using electroencephalography (EEG). They will listen to several stories and answer multiple-choice questions about them on an iPad. What is unique about this scenario is that each story includes phonological errors, which will cause a response in the child’s brain.

Lacreuse lab investigates the etiology of Alzheimer's disease

older adults

The Lacreuse lab received $361,752 in supplemental funding from NIH to study whether Alzheimer's disease-like symptoms occur naturally in nonhuman primates with aging. Agnès Lacreuse is especially interested in determining whether female marmosets, like women, are more prone to such symptoms, and her work seeks to identify the factors that predict pathological aging in each sex. Lacreuse believes that comparative studies in different primate species will provide important new clues to advance our understanding of the etiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in humans.

Familiarity breeds tolerance: Linda Tropp honored for influential ‘contact theory’ analysis

Linda Tropp, psychological and brain sciences, and her group of researchers spent over five years “trying to find every study on intergroup contact we could,” she says. 

Contact theory is a social psychology idea that suggests that contact between social groups (such as racial and ethnic groups) can be an effective strategy for reducing intergroup prejudice. This theory maintains that contact, under certain conditions, between two or more social groups can promote tolerance. If groups are allowed to communicate with one another, they may start to appreciate each other's viewpoints.  

Neuroscientists Heather Richardson and Andrea Silva-Gotay find clues to adolescent brain development

Heather Richardson

Heather Richardson

Andrea Silva-Gotay

Andrea Silva-Gotay

One of the outstanding questions in neurodevelopment research has been identifying how connections in the brain change to improve neural function during childhood and adolescence. Now, results from a study in rats just reported by Heather Richardson, faculty member in psychological and brain sciences, Geng-Lin Li, biology, and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggest that as animals transition into adolescence, specific physical changes to axons speed up neural transmission, which may lead to higher cognitive abilities.

Özden Melis Uluğ explores the role of victimhood narratives in achieving justice and peace

ozden melis ulugÖzden Melis Uluğ, a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program, received a new grant from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). The title of her project is "Turning non-allies into allies: The role of inclusive victimhood narratives in achieving justice and peace." 

Resources, Relationships, and Recognition Encourage Faculty Collaboration and Equity

Nilanjana Dasgupta part of interdisciplinary team building new paths for equity and inclusion in STEM fields.

The National Science Foundation has awarded a coveted ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant to UMass Amherst to support the development of an innovative professional advancement model for underrepresented faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

David Moorman on Team of UMass Scientists Exploring New Technology to Record Complex Brain Activity

David MoormanA team of UMass scientists has been awarded a four-year, $953,300 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop miniature, implantable hardware that can record complex brain activity in animals and analyze it in real time. This new technical capability will allow the researchers to trace the origin of complex brain activity down to cellular levels, they say. 

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