Winter 2022 Newsletter | In the Media

David Huber, psychological and brain sciences, is quoted in an article about semantic satiation, a cognitive processing glitch where words lose meaning through repetition. If we repeatedly say certain words to ourselves, says Huber, the cells that detect those distinct sounds become tired. “As a result, [those brain cells] fail to activate the relevant meaning of the word.” Huber was part of a study that found a semantic satiation effect occurred when participants were asked to perform a speed matching task. Participants were given repeated cues of category labels like “fruit” and were asked to name something that belonged to that category like “apple.” After a while, participants’ responses slowed if the category repeated itself but didn’t slow if they were asked to name non-repeated category members like “pear,” or if they simply were asked to match the word given to them by the researchers.

Research by Rebecca Spencer, psychological and brain sciences, is featured in an article about how learning happens in the brains of napping babies. In Spencer’s 2020 study that compared the story time memories of nappers to non-nappers, she found that nappers more accurately recalled the order of events in a second memory test and also performed better on the same test the next day. Despite the nap advantage, children transition out of naps between three to six years old, and studies are continuing to determine why. Knowable Magazine 

Rebecca Spencer is quoted in an article about subtle signs that might indicate you’re not getting enough sleep. Spencer says among other things, lack of sleep can lead to “brain fog” — “a general sense your brain is running at a slower pace.” Daily News Journal

Rebecca Spencer is interviewed for an article exploring why dreaming is so important and how they can guide and heal people. Some people suspect they don't ever dream, but “Everyone dreams,” Spencer says. “The question is, do you remember them?” Remembering dreams helps connect meaningful events from the day to prior experiences, which helps the brain determine where to store these fresh occurrences. “It is like your brain is saying, ‘Where should I file this? Have I felt something like this before?’” she adds.

Carlo Dallapiccola, physics, and Adrian Staub, psychological and brain sciences, are co-authors of an essay about the toll that pandemic-related restrictions at Massachusetts universities are taking on students. Boston Globe

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, professor emerita of psychological and brain sciences, is quoted in an article about building trust in relationships. The key to maintaining trust in a relationship, according to Whitbourne, is developing your emotional intelligence, a key part of which is being able to identify and predict how others feel. As Krauss wrote in a recent Psychology Today article, “A sign that you’re not as sensitive as you could be when you pressure people is that others try to stay away from you to the extent that they can.” Lifehacker

Ervin Staub, professor emeritus of psychology and founder of the Psychology of Peace and Justice program, is quoted in an article about the trial of the three Minneapolis police officers who looked on as fellow office Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd. Staub’s research led to the development of the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) project used by police departments across the country. Minneapolis Star Tribune