Fall 2020 Newsletter | Research Highlights

people sitting at wine barPreference for alcohol is encoded in reward-centered brain region
The likelihood of becoming addicted to alcohol varies widely from person to person, even when comparing people with similar health history. New research by David Moorman at UMass Amherst has uncovered a brain region that plays a role in determining how much alcohol a person is inclined to drink. This knowledge furthers our understanding of the brain mechanisms behind alcoholism, which could help to design future treatments. Read full article

student reading book at blackboardUMass Amherst and Partners Launch Summer Leadership Academy for Diverse Students in Technology and Engineering
Top tech and engineering firms join as sponsors in career development effort
A new leadership academy for students of color and women who are interested in careers in technology and engineering was launched today by the Institute of Diversity Sciences (IDS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Read full article

children's hands play with blocksNapping helps preschoolers unlock their full potential for learning
Napping reboots the preschool brain and clears the deck for learning
For many parents of young children, the highlight of their day is nap time – not for them, but for their little ones. Especially now, with most preschools closed, getting a child to nap is the golden ticket. Not only can it mean uninterrupted work or self-care time for parents, but their unrecognizable tyrants often wake as happy campers after a nap. Read full article

woman looks out window at city scapeMore than skin deep — the psychological tolls of acne
Psychologist’s research finds that acne is linked to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety
Danielle Samuels, and other researchers conducted a data analysis on the link between acne and anxiety and depression. This is the first study definitively connecting acne and mental health problems. The authors of the study hope their research helps clinicians treat the psychological effects of acne in their patients. Read full article

older woman holds hands with nurseAre older adults suffering more than others from loneliness during COVID-19? Rebecca Ready, Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, discusses several studies showing that most older adults are not more lonely than younger or mid-life adults. One reason may be the quality and closeness of their existing friendships. Read full article in Psychology Today 


american flagHanne Watkins (former postdoc in the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program) and faculty member Bernhard Leidner have written an article for the SPSP blog "Character & Context" on the psychological effects of military commemorations such as Memorial Day or Independence Day. Read full article


neurons fire in fluorescent greenThe lab of Joseph Bergan examines neural circuits underlying social behaviors in rodents. His latest publication to appear in PubMed was published in the journal eNeuro and looks at sex-specific synaptic connections in the medial amygdala. They found anatomical differences in aromatase-expressing circuits that underlie sex-differences in response to social stimuli.