Phenotype Harmonization in WGSPD

Faculty Sponsor: 
Reise, Steven P.
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Maxwell Mansolf
Room Number: 
Franz 3584
Phone: 
760-445-0818
Description of Research Project: 
The Whole Genome Sequencing of Psychiatric Disorders (WGSPD) Consortium is an international collaboration that aims to identify the genetic underpinnings of major psychiatric disorders, with an emphasis on mood and psychotic disorders including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Specifically, we aim to analyse individual-level data across for large projects in order to link genotypes, or an individual's specific set of genetic variants, with phenotypes, or specific components of an individual's psychological profile. A major methodological hurdle in this research is the need for integrative data analysis, a new alternative to meta-analysis which aggregates raw data across disparate studies instead of summary statistics or p-values. Specifically, measures of cognitive ability, such as performance on the Pennsylvania cognitive battery, need to be "harmonized" across studies in order to aggregate the item-level data for cross-study genetic analyses. Harmonizing these cognitive measures requires examining their relationships with covariates such as age, diagnostic status, and the other cognitive tests in the battery, in order to guarantee that the measures are comparable across the various studies.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Two undergraduate students will perform the harmonization analyses for cognitive tasks from the Pennsylvania cognitive battery, including the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), digit span, letter-number sequencing, vocabulary and verbal learning, and trail making tasks. Specific student responsibilities include the following: -Data cleaning and management, including CITI training for human subjects data -Researching the various cognitive tasks, including determining which task variables are of interest and how those variables are expected to relate to covariates such as age, diagnostic status, and performance on other cognitive tasks -Performing descriptive analyses to determine the extent to which these expected relationships hold in the data -Performing descriptive and inferential analyses to determine the extent to which these relationships are the same in the various WGSPD data sets -Performing factor analyses on sets of cognitive tasks and providing quality-controlled factor scores to the WGSPD consortium for use in genetic analyses.

Stress During Cognitive Tasks

Faculty Sponsor: 
Tomiyama, A. Janet
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Alyssa Choi
Description of Research Project: 
The Dieting, Stress, and Health (DiSH) Lab under the supervision of Dr. A. Janet Tomiyama is conducting a study to investigate participants' stress responses while they are cognitively engaged. This study uses both physiological and biological measures of stress, such as heart rate and cortisol. Participants are asked to complete tasks that involve public speaking and mental arithmetic, and we are interested in how their performance on these tasks change as they receive stressful feedback.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants are responsible for prepping and executing lab studies, running subjects, collecting and managing data (including saliva sampling for cortisol and other biological measurements), video analysis of the subjects while they are cognitively engaged to correlate and connect stress responses, and organizing samples and results. Research assistants are expected to work at least 8 hours per week doing these tasks and to attend mandatory weekly meetings with Dr. Tomiyama, the project coordinator, and fellow RAs to discuss the progress of the studies and any complications that arise with the studies.

Online Prevention of Anxiety and Depression in Young People

Faculty Sponsor: 
Denise Chavira
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Leslie Rith-Najarian
Description of Research Project: 
The CALMA (Culture and Anxiety Lab for Mental Health Advances) is a research lab that focuses on increasing knowledge that will improve the mental health of children with anxiety disorders. One of our interests includes the use of novel modes of treatment delivery such as online, telephone based, or parent-mediated interventions. In Fall 2017 to Winter 2018 one of our research studies will be testing an online cognitive and behavioral skills program for university students. This study will examine how students use an online platform to learn skills and strategies. Additionally, the research will examine what motivates students to engage with the program, taking into account their decision making. Finally, at the end of the study we will be collecting feedback about pros/cons of the platform interface.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research Assistants are expected to commit to at least 2 consecutive academic quarters, provide a minimum of 6 hours a week of lab work, plus 2 hours for weekly lab meetings. Research Assistant duties include: participant email communications, data entry and database management, modifying the user interface of the platform, motivational check-ins with participants, and translation of platform materials (if fluent in Spanish). All research assistants will also be expected to read relevant articles and lead a discussion at lab meeting, attend recruitment events, and conduct some data analysis to be included in their final paper.

Early childhood language development: Associations between classroom and child characteristics

Faculty Sponsor: 
Bailey, Alison
Department: 
Education
Contact Name: 
Anne Blackstock-Bernstein
Description of Research Project: 
The goal of this study is to understand low-income children’s language experiences in Head Start preschool classrooms. How do children’s language experiences differ as a function of child-level characteristics, such as temperament and language proficiency? For this mixed-methods study, we are collecting data through the use of classroom observations, child assessments, parent surveys, and teacher focus groups. It is a great opportunity for RAs who are interested in working with children and want to be involved in multiple phases of a research project.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
We are looking for 3 research assistants to help with all aspects of the project. Spanish fluency is strongly preferred, but non-Spanish speakers should still apply. Applicants should be motivated and detail-oriented, as you’ll be an integral part of this research project. We are looking for a time commitment of at least 8 hours/week, and RAs are expected to commit to at least 3 consecutive quarters. Research assistants will be trained to conduct one-on-one language assessments with children (using the preLAS 2000, which uses games and toys to learn about children’s oral language skills) as well as how to use standardized protocols to conduct classroom observations. In addition to collecting data, RAs will attend weekly lab meetings as well as assist with data entry, management, analysis, and transcription (depending on student interest and background). Because most of your time will be spent in classrooms with children, experience working/playing with children is a plus. It is also preferable for RAs to have access to transportation, because data collection will happen at Head Start sites off-campus. If you are interested, please email Anne Blackstock-Bernstein at annebb@ucla.edu with a cover letter describing your goals and interest in the project, resume/CV, and an unofficial transcript. We look forward to hearing from you!

The Role of Regulation in Reasoning: Why Cognitive Regulation/ Executive Functioning Predicts Inductive Reasoning

Faculty Sponsor: 
Dr. William A. Sandoval
Department: 
Graduate School of Education & Information Studies
Contact Name: 
Dr. Anahid Modrek
Room Number: 
Moore Hall, 3135
Phone: 
562-447-8628
Description of Research Project: 
Why are some individuals more effective in reasoning than others? Is self-regulation the answer, or are there distinct facets of self-regulation that might contribute differently? There are three kinds of self-regulation – cognitive, emotional, and behavioral. Preliminary results have suggested that (a) cognitive regulation is the more consequential predictor of both inquiry learning and inductive reasoning, and (b) cognitive regulation and behavior regulation, while related, are distinguishable facets of self-regulation. But do these relationships persist across adolescent development? We move forward with a current study on larger sample (n=696) of young adolescents (ages 11-19), looking closely at how and why inhibitory control, and other cognitive regulatory processes, might explain learning and reasoning effectiveness, and why such processes explain imperative metacognitive strategies.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants will be expected to help with data entry/coding, read background articles, as well as attend lab meetings. Primary focus will be on coding cognitive regulation/executive functioning scores, and evidence-based reasoning tasks collected from a large sample of adolescents. If desired, research assistants may get involved in their own unique research project, which is a great experience for those potentially interested in graduate school. This position is highly desirable for those looking to go onto research careers or applying for a PhD.

Adaptive Learning: Teaching with Computers

Faculty Sponsor: 
Kellman, Philip
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Rachel Older
Room Number: 
2349
Phone: 
(310) 825-4202
Description of Research Project: 
Computer-based learning activities offer great potential to adapt the flow of learning events to optimize progress for each individual. Can adaptive learning algorithms that dynamically sequence learning items result in improved efficiency for factual learning and pattern recognition? The current study is concerned with basic research in adaptive learning and will examine if adaptive sequencing based on accuracy, speed, and retirement criteria, produce learning outcomes superior to traditional classroom methods.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants would help in the collection of data by grading assessments, data entry, and general office work for at least 5 hours per week and will have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of research, including literature search, study design, experimental design, and data analysis. Experience with programming is a plus, but not required. Psych 120A&B are highly recommended.

Perceptual Learning: teaching with computers

Faculty Sponsor: 
Kellman, Phillip
Department: 
Cognitive Science
Contact Name: 
Everett Mettler
Room Number: 
6530
Phone: 
3108254202
Description of Research Project: 
How do learners get better at searching, organizing and interpreting their visual world? Do the same processes that underlie perception of movement in sport, discovery in art, facility with puzzles and other forms of visual expertise also underly such practical skills as fluency in mathematics or proficiency in medical diagnosis? The current study is concerned with basic research in perceptual learning and object recognition. In addition we attempt to isolate and train visual skills using computer software that dynamically adapts to a learner's mental state.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants would help in the collection of data by running subjects at least 7 hours per week. Opportunities would be provided for assistants to collaborate in the generation of new experiments, analysis of data, and independent research. Experience with programming is a plus, but not required. Psych 120A or B are highly recommended.

Psycholinguistic Verbal and Visual.

Faculty Sponsor: 
Holyoak, Keith
Department: 
Cognitive
Contact Name: 
Airom Bleicher
Description of Research Project: 
The current addresses analogical mappings in temporal expressions presented against different types of spatial configurations or schemas (visual stimuli—still images or animations), so as to explore how certain spatial properties (e.g., distance, motion, direction, path, position, speed) get mapped onto different elements of time expressed in words.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Experiment materials creation, running participants, some data review.

Test of Social Exchange Theory

Faculty Sponsor: 
Monti, Martin
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Coetzee, John
Room Number: 
Franz 7549
Phone: 
415-573-6856
Description of Research Project: 
Social Exchange Theory is a theory about the facilitation of deductive reasoning (specifically the Wason Card Selection Task) put forward by Leda Cosmides and John Tooby. Although this theory has been much discussed, there are aspects of it (such us the relative importance of intentionality, presence of a cost, and presence of a reward) that have not been tested on a large scale. Contemporary online methodologies make it possible for us to do so. We plan to conduct a large scale test of Social Exchange Theory using Qualtrics and participants recruited through Amazon's Mechanical Turk system.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
The student will assist in constructing the stimuli for the study, and in managing the data once the study is implemented.

Developing an open-source tool for science on the web

Faculty Sponsor: 
Bjork, Robert A.
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Mikey Garcia
Room Number: 
6437C Franz
Phone: 
626.502.7336
Description of Research Project: 
I am looking for a motivated, self-starting, technologically inclined undergraduate student with programming experience to help develop and document an open-source tool for running psychology experiments on the web. This position would require availability during the spring and summer and has the potential of turning into a scientific publication depending on the amount of work completed. The tool we are using is written in mostly in PHP although you do not strictly need prior PHP experience. To see the current state of the project visit its GitHub page (https://github.com/gikeymarcia/Collector). As part of your participation in this project you will receive a lot of hands on experience in how to create psychological experiments and read scientific articles.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Students will: - Attend lab meetings with graduate, undergraduate, and primary investigators - Read primary source scientific journal articles - Learn to debug and write code in PHP - Help write and edit documentation for an open-source science tool

Human action perception

Faculty Sponsor: 
Lu, Hongjing
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Lu, Hongjing
Room Number: 
6552 Franz Hall
Phone: 
(310) 2062587
Description of Research Project: 
We are interested in how the visual system represents and identifies human action in a motion sequence. It is crucial to perceive and interpret human body movements to be able to interact with other people well. This research explores the underlying information use of visual input in a series of psychophysical experiments.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Students will be involved in conducting experiments, data collection and organization. Students also have the opportunity to aid in the design of new experiments and the development of computational modeling. Students are encouraged to be involved in the new experiments for the preparation for the Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (PURC) at UCLA.

Perceptual Learning: Teaching with Computers

Faculty Sponsor: 
Kellman, Philip J.
Department: 
Psychology - Cognitive Science
Contact Name: 
Everett Mettler
Room Number: 
6530 or 2349
Phone: 
310/825-4202
Description of Research Project: 
How do learners get better at searching, organizing and interpreting their visual world? Do the same processes that underlie perception of movement in sport, discovery in art, facility with puzzles and other forms of visual expertise also underly such practical skills as fluency in mathematics or proficiency in medical diagnosis? The current study is concerned with basic research in perceptual learning and object recognition. In addition we attempt to isolate and train visual skills using computer software that dynamically adapts to a learner's mental state.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants would help in the collection of data by running subjects at least 5 hours per week. Opportunities would be provided for assistants to collaborate in the generation of new experiments, analysis of data, and independent research. Experience with programming is a plus, but not required. Psych 120A or B are highly recommended.

Motion Adaptation and Analogical Transfer

Faculty Sponsor: 
Lu, Hongjing
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
James Kubricht
Room Number: 
Franz 6570
Phone: 
7135422981
Description of Research Project: 
The mission of the Computational Vision and Learning Lab is to investigate human learning and reasoning from a computational perspective. This study comprises two topics: analogical learning and motion adaptation. In analogical learning, a subject is given a solution to one problem and then asked to solve a similar problem with varying structural similarities. We find that subjects often use the first problem to solve the second problem without direct awareness of the underlying analogy. In motion adaptation, subjects are presented with varying visual stimuli and are then asked to categorize point light walker data. Results show that the initial visual stimuli may cause the participant to adapt to the visual stimuli and categorize the walker data toward one preferential gender.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Students will be involved in conducting experiments, data collection and organization. Students also have the opportunity to aid in the design of new experiments and the development of computational models. In addition, a 5-page paper is required to receive course credit.

Differentiating Local and Global Contour Completion Using a Dot Localization Paradigm

Faculty Sponsor: 
Kellman, Phil
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Susan Carrigan
Room Number: 
Franz Hall 2349
Description of Research Project: 
In natural settings, most objects are occluded by themselves or other objects. The light such objects project to our eyes is incomplete and fragmentary. Yet our perception is not of incomplete, fragmentary objects. Our visual system overcomes the gaps in the input it receives to generate perceptions that accurately represent the objects in our world. A primary process by which we accomplish this is contour interpolation - a process by which visible contours are connected across gaps caused by occlusion. Because occlusion is ubiquitous, understanding the mechanisms responsible for interpolation is an important goal of perceptual research. A persisting and complicated problem involves determining what inputs are used to complete objects. The problem is characterized by contradictory findings regarding the influence of local geometry versus global factors such as object symmetry. Some preliminary evidence suggests that local interpolation mechanisms and more global factors may comprise separable processes. The first is a low-level process that completes contours based on local geometry. The second is a higher-order process that uses global cues, and/or past experience, to suggest the most likely shape of a partly hidden object. The result of the first process would be a crisp, precise perceptual representation of interpolated contours. The outcome of the second process would consist at least of a decision regarding the likely symmetry or familiarity of the object, but would not include a perceptual representation with precise borders. This project utilizes a dot localization method to distinguish these dual processes experimentally.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
At a minimum: running subjects. There is potential for more responsibility, depending on what kinds of activities the student is interested in becoming involved in. Potential responsibilities: programming (in Matlab), analyzing data, presenting in lab meetings, literature review.

Prior knowledge in high-level cognition

Faculty Sponsor: 
Lu, Hongjing
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Lu, Hongjing
Room Number: 
6552 Franz Hall
Phone: 
(310) 2062587
Description of Research Project: 
We study predictive, diagnostic and analogical reasoning from a computational perspective. We are especially interested in what prior knowledge humans assume in making an inference from few examples. Our research aims to develop computational models for a range of reasoning experiments, and assess the validity of computational models by comparing their predictions with human performance in controlled experiments.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Students will be involved in conducting experiments, data collection and organization. Students also have the opportunity to aid in the design of new experiments and the development of computational modeling. Students are encouraged to be involved in the new experiments for the preparation for the Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (PURC) at UCLA.

Visual Object Recognition

Faculty Sponsor: 
Liu, Zili
Department: 
Psychology-Cognitive
Contact Name: 
Dr. Zili Liu
Room Number: 
7619 Franz
Phone: 
310-267-4683
Description of Research Project: 
This National Science Foundation sponsored research investigates how the brain encodes into memory visually perceived scenes and objects (e.g., faces). Counter-intuitive predictions, with promising pilot data, will be tested.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Responsibilities include scheduling experiments on experimentrix, conducting the experiments, and debriefing the participant after each experiment.

Enhancing Learning Through Cognitive Psychology

Faculty Sponsor: 
Bjork, Elizabeth
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Erin Sparck
Description of Research Project: 
The primary goal of this research is to promote learning and memory performance within educational contexts through the investigation of principles in cognitive psychology. One of the many topics currently under investigation are situations in which new formats of multiple-choice tests are used after studying some to-be-learned information. We believe that multiple-choice initial testing is more beneficial than is cued-recall initial testing (and can be designed to be even more effective) because multiple-choice initial tests direct attention more broadly-- not just to information pertaining to the question, but also to information pertaining to the alternatives, which is helpful on a final test. We are trying to figure out how to engage people in effective learning strategies on these tests naturalistically.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants will minimally be expected to run participants, help with data entry/coding and basic experiment design, read background articles, as well as attend lab meetings. If desired, research assistants may get involved in their own unique research project, which is a great experience for those potentially interested in graduate school.