2002-2003 Senior Comp Abstracts


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey D. Cross

Minor: None Academic Advisor:  Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Behavioral and anatomical effects of prenatal valproic acid and the effects of intraventricular oxytocin on social recognition: An animal model of autism in Sprague-Dawley rats

The current study examined the effects of prenatal valproic acid (VPA) exposure on developing Sprague-Dawley rats.  Past research has used valproic acid to create a model of autism.  Prenatal exposure to VPA on gestation day 12.5 replicates the cerebellar abnormalities observed in many cases of autism.  Behavioral assessments included measures of passive avoidance, social recognition, object preference, and Morris water maze performance. Prenatal valproate-treated subjects also received intraventricular administrations of oxytocin and their social recognition was re-examined.  The cerebellum was examined using a buffered thionin staining solution. Control subjects had intact social recognition as demonstrated by a significant decrease in olfactory investigation of a familiar stimulus animal.  Treated subjects failed to demonstrate intact social recognition. Intraventricular oxytocin had no significant effect on social recognition in VPA-treated subjects, and there was significantly more investigation prior to drug administration than after administration.  In the object preference task control subjects spent significantly more time investigating the novel stimulus, while VPA-treated subjects spent significantly more time investigating the familiar stimulus.  There were no significant effects of VPA on passive avoidance learning. Control subjects learned the water maze significantly faster than VPA subjects; however, VPA subjects had better performance in the later trials.  Histological studies revealed differences in cerebellar white and gray matter distribution between untreated and VPA-treated brain slices.


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Minor: Art Academic Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

The Progression of Schizophrenia Explored by Voxel-Based Morphometry and Region of Interest Studies

This study compared magnetic resonance images (MRI) of 13 DSM-IV diagnosed, unmedicated first-episode schizophrenic patients at baseline with follow up scans acquired after 1 or 2 years of treatment with antipsychotics and therapy.  As a control, 15 healthy subjects had MRI scans done at a baseline visit as well as at a follow-up visit (also 1 or 2 years after baseline). Using a voxel-based morphometric approach (Johnsrude 1999, Ashburner 2001), statistical parametric maps were produced to compare gray matter concentrations.  Using a region of interest (ROI) approach, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and caudate were measured for volumetric comparisons.  The greatest gray matter change as indicated by VBM analysis was in the prefrontal areas of the brain. DLPFC volumes were decreased when comparing baseline to follow up schizophrenic scans, however, caudate volumes did not change.

Future Plans – I plan on working for UPMC in Pittsburgh for a few months and then plan on attending Ross Medical School in May 2003.


Major: Psychology

Sr. Comp Advisor: Rodney D. Clark

Minor: Philosophy Academic Advisor: Rodney D. Clark

Impacts of Age and Drug Use on the Effectiveness of Television Anti-Drug Advertisements

Drug use has existed for thousands of years.  With this, there have been several cycles of intensified prohibition and tolerance.  The present study traces the history of these cycles with regard to legislation, then briefly traces past media campaigns.  The newest campaign directed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is then examined.  In particular, most television advertisements were evaluated by 96 participants age 17-23 to determine if the ads were effective amongst an older cohort than targeted by the campaign.  It was found that ads focusing on the effects of drug use and driving were most effective whereas those linking drugs to terrorism were least effective.  Additionally, after viewing ineffective ads, participants were more likely to view the source as not credible and were less likely to use other information from the same source in future decision making.

Future Plans —  I plan to work for a year, most likely as Therapeutic Support Staff.  Then I plan to go to grad. school for a doctorate in clinical psych.


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Minor: None Academic Advisor: Jeffrey D. Cross

The Effect of Hippocampal Kindling on Learning and the Interaction Between Hippocampal Kindling and the Antiepileptic Drugs: Phenobarbital and Dilantin on Memory

The effects of continuous hippocampal stimulation on learning and memory were examined, as well as the effects of anti-epileptic drugs on memory.  A T-maze alternation task was used to measure both learning and memory abilities.  Kindling was found to not have a significant effect on learning abilities.  While kindling alone did not have a significant effect on memory drug treatment did.  Although, when combined a significant impairment was seen.  Histological analysis revealed that the further from the target more kindling was needed to induce status epilepticus.  These results suggest that epileptics may have learning impairment, and will likely encounter problems with memory, especially when taking anti-epileptic drugs.

Future Plans —  I am going to take classes at Pitt for a year and then go to medical school.


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Minor: None Academic Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

The Psychological and Physiological Effects of Disordered Eating on the Inhibition of Romantic Arousal as Assessed Through the Analysis of EEG, EKG and SCR Responses

The effect of inhibition and romantic arousal on females that exhibit disordered eating behaviors and attitudes is a subject with limited research.  This study was conducted to test the hypotheses that emotions, inhibition, electroencephalography (EEG), skin conductance response (SCR), and heart rate (HR) in response to romantic arousal differ for females with disordered eating behaviors and attitudes when compared with females that do not have disordered eating patterns.  Through the use of data gathered from the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26), self-reported scales of emotions and inhibition, EEG, SCR, and HR, 27 females were examined.  Each female was placed into the control (low scores) or experimental group (high scores) based upon the EAT-26.  The participants viewed both a romantic and a neutral film during which they were instructed to inhibit their emotions as physiological measures were recorded.  Following the films, each participant evaluated the emotions felt during the film and the amount of perceived inhibition.  Results indicated that the mean scores of the EAT-26 were higher (more disordered) for the experimental group and the experimental group rated themselves as better able to inhibit their feelings when the neutral film was viewed.  The romantic film was rated highest for the emotion of romantic arousal when compared with other emotions, and the neutral film was rated as humorous.  For the physiological variables, results indicated more activation in both the right and left hemispheres of the prefrontal cortex during the film conditions than baseline conditions, as well as increased skin conductance during the film conditions.  Finally, heart rate was not significantly affected.  The findings suggest that more research is needed to determine relationships between inhibition, romantic arousal and patterns of disordered eating.

Future Plans — Graduate school-clinical and health psychology


Major: Psychology Sr. Comp Advisor: JW P. Heuchert

Minor: Music Academic Advisor: Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak

Personality, Mood, and the effects of Music on Cognitive Task Performance

Using 142 undergraduate college students at Allegheny College, the researcher examined the relationship between personality types, music, mood, and cognitive task performance.  To measure personality the researcher used two domains of Neuroticism, Extroversion, and Openness Personality Inventory; Revised (NEO-PI-R) (Costa and McCrae, 1992).  The participants also completed the Profile of Mood States questionnaire (McNair et al., 1992), as well as a questionnaire to assess the amount of formal music instruction the participants have received.  If there were significant relationships between personality, mood, and music then the questionnaire made by the researcher may have been useful in determining more specific reasons for distraction other than personality traits and mood.  The participants completed a reading comprehension task, where they were assigned to one of three musical environments.  The goal of this study is to see if there is a relationship between personality type and the level of distraction while performing cognitive tasks.  It is being hypothesized introverts will be distracted more by the music being played in the background and thus obtain lower cognitive scores the higher the complexity of music becomes.  Extroverts will be distracted more by the lack of music and obtain higher scores while the music is being played in the background.  There was no significance found between any of the relationships.

Future Plans — I am planning on taking some time off before going back to graduate school.  I do plan to get a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology as well as a Master’s degree in Music.


Major:  Psychology Sr. Comp Advisor:  Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak

Minor:  Communication Arts

Academic Advisor:  Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak

Hot Words for Cook Kids:  Children Using Slang as a Social Indicator

The current study examined the relationship between slang and social distinctions, with sex differences and sibling relations.  Data was collected from 15 male and 15 female fifth-grade students from a Northwestern Pennsylvania elementary school.  The participants silently read along as the experimenter read aloud vignette scenarios concerning children who were communicating with a slang phrase or a standard phrase of English.  Each participant answered questions about the scenarios relating to how they would answer and how others would answer in the situations.  No significant relationships or interactions were found between the variables.  Trends were found in males using more slang, in both sexes attributing slang to popular children, and, surprisingly, both sexes attributing more slang to females than males.

Future Plans — I hope to find a job doing something in the social services in order to make money for graduate school, which I hope to attend in a year.


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Minor: None Academic Advisor: Jeffrey D. Cross

A Schizophrenia Model: The Effects of Ketamine and Nicotine on the Startle Response of the Rat

People with schizophrenia exhibit a deficit in prepulse inhibition (PPI).  This effect can be mimicked in the rat by administering an NMDA antagonist such as ketamine.  With the high rate of schizophrenics who smoke, nicotine has been considered as a possible therapeutic measure in schizophrenia.  In the present study, ketamine and nicotine were administered, on a specific schedule, in order to study their effects on PPI.  The subjects used were 12 male Sprague-Dawley rats.  For PPI testing, a 120db, 50ms sound burst was preceded 200ms earlier by an 80db, 50ms sound burst.  The rats’ startle responses to the first 50ms pulse alone, and with the preceding 50ms burst (the prepulse) were recorded.  It was found that none of the studied effects were significant, although there were a few trends that indicated the expected relationship between ketamine and nicotine on PPI.  It was concluded that the doses used were perhaps too small to observe the desired effects.  Additionally, an animal model of schizophrenia may require the actions of more than one neurotransmitter system.

Future Plans — I am taking the year off to work and possibly attend graduate school next year.


Major: Psychology Sr. Comp Advisor: Jennifer O’Donnell

Minor: English Academic Advisor: Jennifer O’Donnell

Intergenerational Relationships:  The Effects of Contact Between Senior Citizens and School-Age Children

Children and the elderly are two of the most underutilized and overlooked populations in modern-day society. The present study addressed this deficit by investigating an intergenerational program, the Wesbury/Allegheny After-School Arts Partnership, and the relationships formed therein. Eleven children and four senior citizens participated in a qualitative study that examined the effects of intergenerational contact on participants’ self-esteem, interactive behaviors, and physical, social, emotional, and psychological well-being. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Elder-Child Interaction Instrument, and qualitative interviews were used to evaluate the nature and effects of intergenerational relationships. Both old and young program participants experienced increases in interactive behavior and physical, social, emotional, and psychological well-being, while children’s self-esteem remained at high levels throughout the program. Such results call for a re-evaluation of the roles of children and the elderly, allowing them to contribute to society while making substantial improvements in the lives of one another.

Future Plans — I plan on finishing up some science (Physics, Chemistry) courses before going on to medical school to become a psychiatrist. I would like to work with children.


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Minor: Communication Arts

Academic Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Prenatal Stress and the Effects on ADHD and Schizophrenia

In this study, the effects of prenatal stress were assessed.  Pregnant dams were placed under psychological stress, in the form of restraint and additional light during their last week of pregnancy.  The offspring were tested on the prepulse inhibition test and in the locomotor chamber, in order to test for symptoms of Schizophrenia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Testing occurred at 30 days, 70 days and 73 days with the administration of methylphenidate at 2 mg/kg doses.  Low survival rates in the experimental group made it particularly difficult to see effects.  However, this in itself suggests the detrimental effects of prenatal stress. Further research concerning strain differences and maternal behaviors affected by stress are suggested in order to create a more powerful study.

Future Plans — Work


Major: Psychology Sr. Comp Advisor: JW Heuchert

Minor: Mod/Classical Language

Academic Advisor: Deborah L. Dickey

Coping, Self-esteem, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The relationships among Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Self-esteem, and Coping Strategies were examined using self-reported scores from a series of three surveys. It was found that those with a high level of ADHD symptoms did have decreased self-esteem and relied more heavily on reactive coping strategies than did those with a low level of symptoms. It was predicted that a subgroup of individuals who use an increased amount of proactive coping strategies would be found, however, no support was found for the existence of such a subgroup. The implications of this were discussed.

Future Plans — Graduate School at Slippery Rock for a Masters in Counseling Psychology


Major: Psychology Sr. Comp Advisor: Evelyn M. Buday

Minor: Communication Arts

Academic Advisor: David E. Anderson

The Effects of Death On Bereavement and Coping Strategies in College-Aged Men and Women

This study examined the differences between males’ and females’ levels of grief and coping strategies associated with the nature of death in a college setting.   Eighty-seven bereaved individuals were surveyed from a number of different psychology courses.  Gender and other variable data were gathered on a demographic form.  To measure the use of coping strategies the COPE scale was employed, while the Grief Experience Questionnaire (GEQ) was used to measure different levels of grief concerning the nature of death.  Analyses of the results were performed using, t-tests and analysis of variance (ANOVA) calculations.  An alpha level of .05 was used for all parametric tests.  Results did not support the hypothesis that women use more ruminative coping strategies and a more overwhelming sense of sadness following the death of a loved one.  As hypothesized, suicide survivors did experience higher amounts of grief reactions than unexpected natural survivors, but not from any other group.  The hypothesis that suicide and accident survivors would be significantly different from the two types of natural deaths, regarding grief was not fully supported.  The only supporting evidence was that suicide survivors had a significantly larger amount of unique grief reactions than all three groups.  Implications for the study include a larger number of female participants and an amount of time since bereavement.  Another implication is the difficulty in applying the coping scores provided by the COPE scale, to bereavement in general.  There is a great need for more research pertaining to bereavement in a college setting due to the large amounts of college students who have lost someone close to them during this period of life.

Future Plans — I am attending graduate school at East Carolina University to study Industrial/Organizational Psychology.


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Minor: None Academic

Advisor: Jeffrey D. Cross

The effects of chronic methylphenidate administration on spatial learning and behavior in normal Sprague-Dawley rats.

The effect of chronic methylphenidate administration on spatial learning was studied using normal Sprague-Dawley rats in a free-choice radial arm maze task.  Locomotor activity was also studied using the locomotor activity chamber.  A 2.0 mg/kg dose of methylphenidate was administered i.p. to a group of 7 rats and the same saline dose was administered i.p. to a group of 7 rats.  Six different dependent variables were measured to assess learning.  These included total errors made, times an arm was re-entered without the food being consumed, times an arm was re-entered with the food being consumed, times an arm was entered for the first time without consuming the food, number of arms that were never entered, and total correct responses made.  There was a significant main effect across days for all dependent variables, except for arms never entered.  This indicates that all rats learned as expected.  There was also a significant main effect across days for locomotor activity.  This indicates that as expected, there was a habituation effect.  Nevertheless, there was only a significant main effect seen between groups for mean total errors and re-entry into an arm with reinforcement consumption mean total errors and re-entry into an arm with reinforcement consumption.  This indicates that the methylphenidate rats did not learn as quickly or as well as the saline group.  However, with so few significant results between groups, more research must be conducted before it can be concluded that methylphenidate has a detrimental effect on spatial learning.

Future Plans — I plan to work as a neuroscience lab tech. and then go to graduate school in 2-4 years.


Major: Psychology

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jennifer O’Donnell

Minor: Philosophy

Academic Advisor: JW P. Heuchert

Introversion and Creativity: Means of social Expression

The design of this proposal consists of three primary sources to establish the essential background information and the direction of current and future research: The first, theoretical approaches on both creativity and introversion followed by empirical research, and finally a historical account. The purpose of the extensive and varied research is to illustrate that introverted people are not only creative but also an essential part of contemporary and historical societal constructs. The current study hypothesized that through a variety of facets such as art, thinking strategies and other mediums, introverted people ‘redirected’ and discharge their energy into creative endeavors. Since introverts have to utilize these creative episodes to express their built-up repressed energy, which is done to their social inadequacies, we are hypothesizing that introverted people are more creative than extraverts are.  The selection of subjects for the empirical portion of the project came from a random sample of 53 undergraduate students from various academic disciplines at Allegheny College. Participants completed two questionnaires, the NEO-PI-R and ATTA, that measured personality traits and creative thinking ability. The empirical portion of the study did not find evidence to support the hypothesis

Future Plans — Initially after graduation I plan to take some time off and just relax, after which I have aspirations on attending graduate school. The area interest that seems most appealing to me at this time is a program that is orientated in the phenomenological-existential geared toward a career in clinical psychology. One of the other options that I might even consider is a graduate program in continental philosophy or even a program that would allow me to integrate both.


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey D. Cross

Minor: Mod/Classical Language

Academic Advisor: Jeffrey D. Cross

A Review of the Assessment of the Elderly Based on Cognitive Ability

The present study used six control patients and six experimental patients selected randomly from a longitudinal study of geriatric patients with depression or dementia.  Their diagnoses were made according to their performance on various tests of cognitive ability (Mattis Dementia Rating Scale, Mini-Mental State Examination, Executive Interview, and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale).  The significance of the scores on these tests between the control patients and those with dementia and/or depression and the difference between baseline scoring and one and two-year follow-ups were reviewed.  Results suggest there may be a need for improvement of such means of assessment and diagnosis, and they also suggest the decline of cognitive ability due to age as well as disorder.

Future Plans — I plan to work while I attend graduate school.  I hope to get a Ph.D. in counseling or in a PsyD program so I can become a psychologist.


Major: Psychology

Sr. Comp Advisor: JW P. Heuchert

Minor: Communication Arts

Academic Advisor: Deborah L. Dickey

The Influence of Mood on Personality Self-Report

The study was conducted in order to determine the influence of mood on personality self-report. Determining whether mood influences personality self-report will help to determine if personality is a state or trait characteristic.  One hundred and thirty-three Allegheny College students volunteered to participate.  The participants completed the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and the NEO-PI-R on two separate occasions with the retest being seven to ten days following the initial testing.  The Pearson r correlational data found significant positive correlations between the test-retest at the .000 significance levels for all of the factors of both the NEO-PI-R and the POMS Profile of Mood States.  The facets of the NEO-PI-R all had positive significant correlations at the .000 significance level as well.  A paired samples t-test showed a significant finding of t(123)=2.191, p=.030 for the depression/dejection factor, and a significant finding for the vigor/activity t(128)=2.032, p=.044.  None of the personality factors and only one of the personality facets (modesty) had significant differences at the .05 significance level.  This finding helped to support the trait theory because even though mood changed the personality self-report scores did not change significantly on any of the personality factors.  The finding that personality is a trait characteristic will help to determine how to accurately assess personality.

Future Plans — Attend graduate school full-time, masters program but still undecided as to which one (counseling psychology programs), work full-time as a Child Development Specialist at the Bradley Center in Pittsburgh, PA


Major: Psychology Sr. Comp Advisor: Jennifer O’Donnell

Minor: Music Academic Advisor: William A. DeLamarter

The Relationship Between Music Participation and Self-Esteem

This study investigated the relationship between music participation and self-esteem.  The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory was used to measure self-esteem between music and non-music samples.  One hundred and sixty-five Allegheny College students participated in the current study.  An independent sample t-test was used to measure if there was a significant difference between music and non-music participants and art and non-art music participants.  Results show that music participants had significantly higher self-esteem than non-music participants.  However, art music participants did not have higher self-esteem than non-art music participants, which contrasts with previous research.  This study shows significant findings that could benefit an individual’s wellbeing, but also contains some limitations and implications for future research.

Future Plans — Work at The Bradley Center; Duquesne Graduate School/School Counseling


Major: Psychology

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jennifer O’Donnell

Minor: Communication Arts

Academic Advisor: Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak

Effect of Magazine Advertising Interpretation on Body Image

Magazine advertising has a detrimental effect on body image, although the effect is unintentional by the advertisers.  Female consumers compare their own bodies to those of advertisement models when these models do not represent the average real-life woman.  The standards of beauty are always changing and women are expected to follow the trends.  This current study examines if factors contributing to negative body image are determined by the advertisements’ central visual element, people or products.  The difference in body image perceptions was examined between a model viewing group and a jewelry-viewing group.  Further body image assessments were completed between class years and academic major divisions.  Body image was measured throughout the experiment using the Multidimensional Body Self-Relations Questionnaire-Appearance Scales and the Stunckard et.al. figure outlines.  After the study a focus group discussion allowed selected participants to elaborate upon the advertising effects they experienced.  The study found no significant effects between any of the groups, except when the participants viewed the muscular body type advertisements.  This significant result suggests the trend for female body ideals is shifting to another ideal body type.


Major: Psychology/Other

Sr. Comp Advisor: Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak

Minor: VESA Academic Advisor: Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak

Conversion Experience in an Evangelical Christian Context: The Role of Interpersonal Relationships

This paper explores conversion experience within American Evangelical Christianity, primarily focusing on the significance of interpersonal relationships between non-believers and believers and the roles of believers in these relationships (advocate, example, and/or inviter).  In addition, it questions whether sex differences play a role in the significance of relationships.  Results from a sample of 15 participants (7 men, 8 women) from McLane Church support that interpersonal relationships are influential in conversion.  While no relationship exists between sex and the significance of relationships, men were less likely to describe their relationships and tended to focus on conversion as a loss of control.  On the other hand, women tended to describe their relationships and focus on God’s love and acceptance in framing their experiences.

Future Plans —  I’m attending Geneva College in the fall for an M.A. Counseling Psychology


Major:  Psychology Sr. Comp Advisor:  Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak

Minor:  English Academic Advisor:  Rodney D. Clark

The Effect of Sex and Gender on Heterosexual Dating Scripts Among American and British Undergraduates

The purpose of this study was to examine the contributions that sex and gender had on levels of egalitarianism in American and British undergraduates.  These variables were investigated through conversational dating behaviors and corresponding attitudes.  The American study included 114 participants, consisting of 37 male and 77 female undergraduates at a small liberal arts college.  The British study included 101 participants, consisting of 51 male and 50 female undergraduates at a large university.  Each undergraduate completed a dating questionnaire as well as the Bem Sex Role Inventory (Bem, 1978).  Results for the American study indicated that attitudes were more egalitarian than behaviors and that women were more egalitarian than men.  It also showed no gender classification differences on the Bem Sex Role Inventory for any of the egalitarian variables.  The results reflected the American and British samples yielding similar egalitarian behaviors.

Future Plans — HR position, consulting, something business-oriented


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp. Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Minor: None Academic Advisor: Rodney D. Clark

The Social and Behavioral Effects of Prenatal Valproic Acid Exposure in the Zucker Rat: An Assessment of an Autistic Model

Research indicates that autism is a developmental disorder that disrupts many social and behavioral aspects of an individual’s life.  The current study investigates the social and behavioral effects of prenatal valproic acid exposure in the Zucker rat, as an accepted animal model of autism.  There was no significant difference in the social memory of the treated rats as compared to the control group.  Exploratory behavior was broken into three types of movement, ambulatory, stationary, and total.  The treated animals demonstrated lower ambulatory movement during habituation and trial 1 yet there was no significance between groups.  In stationary movement, the controls were significantly higher than the treated group.  The controls also showed significantly higher measures of total movement than the treated group.  No significant difference was found between groups in conditioned place preference (novelty preference).  The results of this study emphasize the need for tests that measure specific autistic symptoms induced in rats that provide a correlate to the human population.

Future Plans — I plan to work in the field of psychology for a year before applying to graduate school for clinical psychology.


Major: Psychology Sr Comp Advisor: Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak

Minor: VESA Academic Advisor: Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak

A Qualitative Analysis of Activist Perseverance:  Interviews With Nine Committed Social Activists

This qualitative study examines how the perceptions and habits of committed activists help them to persevere despite the threat of burnout.  Past research cited in this study includes investigations conducted by Passy and Giugni (2000) and Downton and Wehr (1998).  Nine activists were interviewed, and their narratives were examined for common themes.  It was hypothesized that committed activists: (a) frame their activism as central to their identities; (b) have access to an effective outlet for reflection, renewal, and healing; (c) perceive that they are cooperating with others, rather than working alone; and (d) are action-, rather than outcome-, oriented.  Findings included the indication that activism is central to identity, and there is a need to retreat from and reflect upon one’s involvement.  This research provides a further understanding of civic engagement that may be particularly useful for activist organizations that wish to strengthen citizen involvement.


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Minor: None Academic Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Cognitive and Motor Assessments of an Acute Progressive Animal Model of Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s Disease (HD) is a genetically inherited neurodegenerative disease in which there is marked progressive degeneration of the striatum.  The characteristic features of patients with HD are a triad of symptoms including impaired cognitive function, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and the cardinal clinical feature of choreic motor dysfunction.  The relationships between these motor and cognitive abnormalities, which are incompletely understood, have been explored with animal models created in various ways.  The neurotoxin quinolinic acid (QA) is an NMDA agonist that has been shown to mimic certain neurodegenerative diseases such as HD when administered intrastriatally to laboratory animals.  The present study investigated the cognitive and motor abilities of 19 rats lesioned either as a sham control (n = 5), with one acute bilateral administration of 60nM QA into the striatum (n = 14), or with two acute bilateral administrations of 60nM QA into the striatum (n = 6).  Following lesioning the cognitive and motor behavior of rats was studied.  Results of behavioral testing indicated that one administration of the acid produced a slight impairment in fine motor performance.  A second administration of the acid produced a much greater impairment in fine motor performance and a slight cognitive decline.  Collectively, these results suggested that a single acute administration of QA did not mimic the deficits in HD.  However, with increased exposure to QA through two acute administrations, fine motor performance and certain cognitive aspects of the disease do become impaired, providing a more complete model of HD.

Future Plans — I have been hired with UPMC at Western Psychiatric in the Sleep Imaging Research Lab as a research associate.  I also plan on applying to the graduate school at Pitt (paid for through my job) for either Clinical Psychology or Rehabilitation counseling.


Major: Psychology Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Minor: None Academic Advisor: Jeffrey D. Cross

The Effects of Dietary Sodium Chloride On Levels and Potency of Angiotensin II in Ratus norvegicus

The manipulation of dietary salt intake as an independent variable has several applications in the study of physiology, particularly dealing with the renin-angiotensin system (RAS).  The present study sought to examine the impact of a high salt diet (8%) on the potency of various concentrations of intravenously infused Angiotensin II (ANG II).  Rats were maintained on a normal (1%) or high-salt diet for at least two weeks prior to data collection.  At the conclusion of the two weeks, cannulas were implanted in the left femoral vein and artery of these animals, and the efficacy [induced drinking (dipsogenic) response and mean arterial pressure (MAP) response] of various concentrations of ANG II infused intravenously was examined.  Statistical analysis of the obtained data were performed in order to test the effect of the interaction between dietary salt intake and ANG II effects on MAP and dipsogenesis and several dose-response curves of dipsogenesis and MAP response versus concentration of ANG II were generated.  As the concentration of ANG II infused was increased, a significant change was observed in the MAP but not in dipsogenesis.  Also, the MAP response and the dipsogenic response were not significantly different between control rats and those on the high salt diet.

Future Plans — I intend to attend medical school this fall (or next fall at the very latest) and eventually become a pediatrician.  I am waiting for word from Pennsylvania State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  They have me on a waiting list, currently.  They are my first choice.


Major: Psychology Sr. Comp Advisor: Jennifer O’Donnell

Minor: Computer Science Academic Advisor: Deborah L. Dickey

An Investigation of Children’s Opinions and Attitudes Toward NASA and the United States Space Program

The present study was conducted to learn more about children’s attitudes and opinions toward NASA and the U.S. space program.  Two very diverse samples of children served as the participants.  Group 1 participants were enrolled in the U.S. Space Camp program in Titusville, FL in the summer of 2002.  This group chose to come to camp and also paid $699 to attend the 5-day program.  Group 2 participants were selected from students currently enrolled in grades 4, 5, and 6 at First District Elementary School in Meadville, Pennsylvania.  A pre/post-survey design was used to collect the children’s demographic information and to learn more about their knowledge of NASA and their attitudes toward NASA programs.  The educational component between the pre and post surveys for Group 1 was the 5-day camp and Group 2 was a 1-hour educational lecture.  Overall, the participants’ pre-surveys demonstrated a great deal of interest and a positive attitude toward NASA and its space programs but showed relatively little knowledge about the programs.  In general, interest, attitude, and knowledge increased on the post-survey scores for both groups.  Indeed, education may be an important factor in children’s attitudes toward NASA and the US space program.

Future Plans — Currently I am exploring several options, all centered around teaching opportunities.  I have been accepted and will most likely attend the Pitt MAT program for a master’s and teacher certification.  However, I am also exploring options working as a camp director in several different camp locations including Space Camp in Titusville, FL.  I have also been contacted by The Delphi Academy of Clearwater Florida about teaching in their private elementary school environment.


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey H. Hollerman

Minor: Religious Studies Academic Advisor: Jeffrey H. Hollerman

The Effects of Prenatal Stress on Learning, Memory and Stress Response in Childhood

Prenatal stress has effects on the offspring that can last into adult life.  Learning and memory can be affected as well as response to stress.  Prenatal stress can cause dysfunction of the hypothalamo pituitary adrenal axis, which controls response to stress.  The effects of prenatal stress on learning, memory and response to stress were observed in juvenile Sprague Dawley rats (1-2 months old).  Learning was tested in the Morris water maze; memory was tested in a y-maze 2 trial memory test, a modification of the radial arm maze.  Changes in locomotor activity in response to stress were also tested.  There was a significant difference in the amount of time taken to find the hidden platform in the Morris water maze, the control group learned significantly more quickly.   There was no significant difference in memory skills or in response to stress observed.  These findings can provide a better understanding of the possible damaging effects of too much stress.


Major: Psychology/Neuroscience

Sr. Comp Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

Minor: None Academic Advisor: Jeffrey R. Hollerman

The Behavioral Effects of Sedative, Antidepressant and Antipsychotic Medications in People with a Traumatic Brain Injury

People who experience behavior problems as a result of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are often medicated with antipsychotics, antidepressants and sedatives (NIH, 1999). However, these medications were not designed to treat TBI and cause chemical changes in brains already struggling to heal themselves. This study sought to examine the effects of decreasing maintenance medications in 10 people with a TBI and severe behavior problems at an in-patient rehabilitation hospital (IRH) over the course of 9 weeks. Progress for each behavior problem was measured with a one-way within subjects analysis of variance (ANOVA). Results were significant for restraint procedures, F (8, 72) = 4.820, p< .05, grabs, F (8, 72) = 3.314, p< .05, and episodes of non-compliance, F (8,72) = 2.283, p< .05. Restraint procedures, grabs, episodes of non-compliance, unsafe behaviors and physical outbursts increased in weeks 1, 2 and 3 and then decreased until the end of the 9 weeks. All behavior problems decreased by the end of the study. Analysis of each patient&#8217;s prescribed medications revealed 5 of 10 patients were able to tolerate a decrease in maintenance medications. This study, along with other research, suggests people who sustain a TBI will perform better in rehabilitation if they are not overmedicated with sedatives, antidepressants and/or antipsychotics.

Future Plans — I will be attending medical school at Penn State-Hershey. I also received a health professions scholarship from the Air Force and have been commissioned as a second lieutenant.