Spring 2023 Newsletter | Research Highlights

Mind the Gap: Finding a Way Through Social Division

two faces chat with word bubblesLinda Tropp discusses ways to bridge gaps between social divides in the US including making connections with others having different perspectives, cultivating compassion, and fostering trust. Read full article in UMass Magazine

Nilanjana Dasgupta Assists National Academics with Study on Dismantling Exclusion in STEM

Nilanjana DasguptaNilanjana Dasgupta, provost professor of psychological and brain sciences and director of the Institute of Diversity Sciences at UMass Amherst, has spent the last year working with The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to identify and circulate the best principles and practices for organizations to use in advancing antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion in the sciences, technology, engineering, math and medicine, both within and beyond higher education. The results of Dasgupta and her colleagues’ work was recently published as a consensus study, freely available from the National Academies. Read more

Can Naps Counteract the Health Risks of Losing Sleep at Night?

woman sleeping on couch

Rebecca Spencer says daytime naps don’t necessarily negate the health risks that may come with insufficient sleep at night. She says this is because during a nap we don’t spend time in the deeper stages of sleep that are associated with learning, storing memories and regulating mood and with a range of physical health benefits. Read more

Harsh mothers more likely to have poor executive functioning and interpret others’ behavior as hostile

mother scolds child

Kirby Deater-Deckard led research finding that mothers with harsher parenting practices tend to have poorer executive functioning and are more prone to hostile attribution bias. “The findings suggest that targeting reduction in authoritarian childrearing attitudes and orienting parents to situational explanations for child misbehavior, may mitigate some of the potentially problematic effects of having weaker cognitive self-regulation on harsh reactive parenting behavior,” Deater-Deckard says. Read full article

DDHS Students Attend Autism Exercise Specialist Certification Course

group of course members stand together flexing muscles

Students in Kinesiology and Developmental Disabilities and Human Services participated in the Autism Exercise Specialist Certification course (American College of Sports Medicine). Students completed 6 hours of online modules in addition to a full day, hands-on workshop in Totman. Read more

PBS Students Attend Autism Connections Conference

students gather around conference table

Students in the Developmental Science Program and the Developmental Disabilities and Human Services specialization traveled to Springfield for the Autism Connections Conference on April 27. The day-long educational conference brings together agency and education professionals, families, parents, caregivers, individuals with autism, sponsors and exhibitors to build knowledge, inspire and make meaningful connections. Read more

PBS Faculty Receive Fulbright Scholar Awards

For his sabbatical in 2023-2024, Luke Remage-Healey will be a U.S. Fulbright Scholar conducting research at the Ludwig Maximilian University Division of Neurobiology, in Munich, Germany. He will be collaborating with research scholars on a project investigating the contribution of fast, direct ion flow between neurons (electrical synapses) in the auditory system of songbirds.

Kirby Deater-Deckard will be a Fulbright-University of Turku Scholar  in Spring semester 2024. This coming Fall semester, Kirby will start sabbatical as a research director fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. He will be collaborating with psychological and brain scientists at the Turun and Helsingen Yliopistos (Universities of Turku, and Helsinki), focusing on data analysis, disseminating findings, and planning future data collection for the FinnBrain Study, the Center for Learning Dynamics and Intervention Research, and the Parents and Adolescents Across Cultures study.

Graduate Students Present at National Conferences and Events

Ciara Venter, graduate student in clinical psychology, spoke as a panelist at the event Addressing Black Maternal Health: An Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Read more about the event and Ciara’s experience here.

Maya Whaley presented her first, first-author poster at a national conference as a graduate student. She attended the Sports Neuropsychology Symposium in Denver, Co in May 2023. Her poster was entitled, "Clinical Neuropsychology Journal Articles about Concussion from 2010-2020." The aim of the project was to provide a comprehensive look into the content represented in clinical neuropsychology journal articles about concussion from 2010-2020, to determine if concussion research increased over time, and the topics covered by the articles. We identified underrepresented content areas and suggest that concussion research may better serve public health by focusing on individual differences (e.g., sex differences, multicultural issues, older adults) that influence risk for, course, and recovery from concussion.