David Reinhard Receives Grant from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology

David Reinhard, a new Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Psychology of Peace a Violence Program working under the supervision of Bernhard Leidner, received a new grant from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). His research project entitled “De-escalating Conflict in International Rivalries” aims to understand how rivalries between nations can lead to conflict escalation, and whether this understanding can be leveraged for conflict reduction and prevention.

​Researchers including Luke Remage-Healey Discover Bridge Neurons in the Swamp Sparrow

Researchers including Luke Remage-Healey, psychological and brain sciences, and Jeffrey Podos, biology, report the discovery of sensorimotor “bridge” neurons involved in the imitative bird song learning of the swamp sparrow. The authors explain how these bridge neurons, “simultaneously and selectively represent two critical learning-related schemas: the bird’s own song, and the specific tutor model from which that song was copied. Furthermore, the prevalence and response properties of bridge neurons correlate with learning ability – males that copied tutor songs more accurately had more bridge neurons. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that accurate imitative learning depends on a successful bridge, within single cortical neurons, between the representation of learning models and their sensorimotor copies.”

Daniel Chapman and Brian Lickel Publish New Article in Nature Climate Change

Graduate student Daniel Chapman and Professor Brian Lickel, Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Assistant Professor Ezra Markowitz, Environmental Conservation, have published a new article in Nature Climate Change entitled "Reassessing emotion in climate change communication." The researchers discuss how climate change communicators may attempt to encourage or impede public engagement in their readers by initiating emotional responses.

Amherst High School Seniors Visit Tobin Hall Labs

A group of over 70 Amherst High School seniors visited the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences (PBS) in Tobin Hall, getting a chance to tour several of our labs and explore what it is to be a psychology major. Small groups of students rotated through the labs, learning about the processes and technology involved in performing research. Assistant Professor Jennifer McDermott gave a great introduction on psychology to the students, explaining the many ways scientists are studying the brain and behavior.

Caren Rotello Elected Fellow of Society of Experimental Psychologists

​Caren Rotello, Professor and Department Chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, has been elected a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists (SEP).  Founded in 1904, SEP is described as "the oldest and most prestigious honorary society in psychology." SEP admits only a handful of leading experimental psychologists in North America as members each year. With a current membership of 220 individuals, they represent about 5-10% of practicing experimental psychologists. Members have expertise in several areas including experimental, cognitive, perceptual, behavioral, developmental, and social psychology, and neuroscience. 

Holly Laws Named Director of CRF Methodology Consulting Services

Holly Laws has been named Director of the Center for Research on Families (CRF) Methodology Consulting Services (MCS). MCS provides consultation in study design and statistical analysis. This team has particular expertise in methods for analyzing non-experimental data that arise in studies of families and dyads, with an emphasis on multi-level modeling, structural equation modeling, and analysis of nested and longitudinal data. MCS also offers free statistical seminars and a limited amount of free methodology consultation services to graduate students and faculty on campus. Laws hopes to expand the specialized methodology workshops that CRF offers, reaching a national audience through consulting and providing online tools.

New Book "Making Research Matter: A Psychologist's Guide to Public Engagement", Edited by Linda Tropp

A new book, "Making Research Matter: A Psychologist's Guide to Public Engagement", edited by Linda Tropp, has been released. Faculty from UMass Amherst (Amy Schalet, Sociology) and UMass Lowell (Meg Bond, Michelle Haynes-Baratz) have also contributed to this book.

Faculty Spotlight: Joseph Bergan

Research Area: Behavioral Neuroscience; Faculty page

Joseph Bergan grew up in northern Minnesota—a setting that naturally fostered an interest in the natural world. Early interests in medicine, geology, and mathematics gave way to neuroscience during his first year at Macalester College. “Neuroscience has the questions that interest me most in science. You are studying how the brain works, how we interact and perceive the world. How we behave, feel, and think. Those questions are really interesting to me. It is a privilege to get to study these questions and introduce students to these concepts for a living.” says Bergan.