Our professors lead a variety of vibrant labs that involve students as collaborators and research assistants.
The broad goals of the lab are to increase knowledge of the etiology, maintenance, and prevention of co-morbidity between anxiety disorders and substance use disorders. Ken Abrams leads a group that tests two models of co-morbidity: one positing that substance dependence promotes anxiety disorders (through biopsychosocial consequences of chronic substance use and repeated withdrawal syndromes), and the other that anxiety disorders promote substance dependence (through self-medication of symptoms). The anxiety disorders on which we have focused are panic disorder and social phobia, and the substances on which we have focused are nicotine and alcohol.
The Language and Cognition Research Lab interests focuses on how people use language and memory in day-to-day life. One major area of research looks at how people make use of information about their conversational partners when they are having a conversation, for example, how conversational partners briefly and spontaneously create agreements on what words mean. Another area is how readers learn new information and change their existing beliefs based on what they read in fictional sources. A third investigates how novice writers write and revise. In the lab, we review previous research to design and conduct our own experiments. Contact Mija Van Der Wege for more info.
The lab overseen by Sarah Meerts investigates the neural and hormonal factors involved in the expression and development of motivated behaviors. Specifically, we are working to better understand the role of the brain, hormones and sensory inputs that contribute to the rewarding nature of mating behavior in female rats. We are investigating the interactions between hormones and the brain that occur during puberty in female rats that are necessary for adult social interactions. To examine these questions, we combine behavioral observation and classical conditioning procedures with pharmacological and neuroanatomical techniques.
Research in the Perception Lab focuses on how people process sensory information about speech (including how auditory and visual information are combined) and how individual differences (in cognitive abilities, personality, etc.) and expectations influence perception. Julia Strand is the faculty investigator overseeing the research in this lab.
Julie Neiworth is the primate faculty researcher, entering her 21st year of working with and getting to know the tamarins at Carleton College, a total group of 31 monkeys that have spanned over three monkey generations, involving more than 100 undergraduate collaborators, supported by four NIH grants totaling $1,101,651, and producing more than two dozen publications and presentations. Her current focus is cognitive decline that occurs naturally with aging, and specifically with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Please visit the lab website to find out more about our research, the monkeys, student collaborators, and the possibility of taking a tour.
Social and Personality Lab
Neil Lutsky leads a Research in Social and Personality Lab addressing topics in those areas. Most recently, the Lab Group has been examining the psychology of endings, specifically how people say goodbye for limited and protracted separations from others and how people cope with the absence of opportunities to enact goodbyes. The group will meet regularly again starting in the Fall of 2021.
The Neuroimmunology and Neurotoxicology Laboratory
The Neuroimmunology and Neurotoxicology Laboratory, led by Gisel Flores-Montoya, focuses on better understanding how the neuroimmune system influences behavior in health and disease. Our research is translational, that is, findings from human studies inform the development of hypotheses for animal studies and vice versa. The lab is currently examining the effects of chronic low-level lead exposure on neuroimmune cells in the brain, meningeal lymphatics, and on memory using a model of C57BL/6j mice. The final goal of the laboratory is to provide foundational studies that might aid in the development of a treatment that might rescue the detrimental effects of chronic low-level lead exposure on memory in children. Another focus of research is examining how the newly discovered meningeal lymphatic vessels surrounding the brain might influence memory in health and in disease (e.g. after pathogenic exposure).