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How Does the Brain Rapidly Deconstruct What We See?

This is one of the questions Psychology Professor Marlene Behrmann is working to answer. In this video, she talks about how she uses the latest analytical methods such as machine learning and statistical analysis to understand the psychological and neural mechanisms behind the visual perception system. She also discusses her excitement for the future of brain research at Carnegie Mellon University and its BrainHub initiative.



BrainHub - Michael J. Tarr

Michael J. Tarr is a world-renowned cognitive scientist who studies the human visual system. In this video, he talks about Carnegie Mellon University's long history in brain research, his own work and what the future holds for CMUss BrainHub initiative. Learn more at www.cmu.edu/brainhub.




Undergrads Show Off Their Research
In early November, roughly 70 students, faculty and staff gathered in the Baker Hall Coffee Lounge for the third annual Dietrich Undergraduate Colloquium (DUC). Since 2013, the colloquium has provided an opportunity for undergraduate students to immerse themselves in a topic of interest and present their research findings in a structured environment. Psychology students Zora Gilbert, Rubini Naidu, and Joshua Swanson presented their work.

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Emily Lindsay, a Ph.D. student in psychology, has been selected as a recipient of the 2015 American Psychological Association (APA) Dissertation Research Award. The Dissertation Research Award program assists science-oriented doctoral students of psychology with research costs. Lindsay will use the $1,000 grant to continue studying mindfulness meditation and its relationship to improved mental and physical health. Learn more about the mind-body connection and Lindsay's research.

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Self-Rated Health Predicts Immune Response to the Common Cold
Finding Suggests Physicians Should Ask Patients To Rate Their Own Health

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Mental Maps: Route-Learning Changes Brain Tissue
Tim Keller and Marcel Just have determined that learning detailed navigation information causes the hippocampus enlargement seen in London cab drivers. Published in NeuroImage, their findings show that brief navigation training changes a person's brain tissue and improves how that changed tissue communicates with other brain areas involved with navigation. The findings establish a critical link between structural and functional brain alterations that happen during spatial learning. They also illustrate that the changes are related to how neural activity synchronizes - or communicates - between the hippocampus and other regions that are important for navigation understanding and learning.

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Professor Vicki Helegeson talks to CBS Pittsburgh about her new social support and diabetes study:


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Difficulty Processing Speech May Be an Effect of Dyslexia, Not a Cause


The cognitive skills used to learn how to ride a bike may be the key to a more accurate understanding of developmental dyslexia. And, they may lead to improved interventions.

Lori Holt and Yafit Gabay investigated how procedural learning - how we acquire skills and habits such as riding a bike - impacts how individuals with dyslexia learn speech sound categories. They found that learning complex auditory categories through procedural learning is impaired in dyslexia.

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Training by Repetition Actually Prevents Learning for Those With Autism
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) sometimes acquire a new behavior or skill only in a specific context, but they have difficulty transferring that learned skill or information to a new context.

Professor Marlene Behrmann has a new study in Nature Neuroscience that shows how training individuals with ASD to acquire new information by repeating the information actually harms their ability to apply that learned knowledge to other situations. This finding challenges the popular educational approaches designed for ASD individuals that focus on repetition and drills.
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Andrew Carnegie Society Scholars Announced
Psychology major Rubini Naidu and Psychology minor Zora Gilbert have been selected to the Andrew Carnegie Society (ACS) Scholars Class of 2016.
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Bright Minds, Big Ideas
Laurie Heller received a Google Research Award, which funds cutting-edge research in computer science, engineering and related fields.
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Department of Education Renews PIER Grant for $3.6 Million
Affirming PIER's impressive track record with respect to training students both in their core disciplines and in education research, the award will support 18 CMU doctoral students in three cohorts for four years of their training.
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Psychology Department Turns 100
Over the past century, CMU's Department of Psychology has become a major force in cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, computational modeling, developmental psychology, social/health psychology and the science of learning.
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Confirmed: Lack of Sleep Connected To Getting Sick
In 2009, Professor Sheldon Cohen found for the first time that insufficient sleep is associated with a greater likelihood of catching a cold. Now, Cohen and researchers from UC San Francisco and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have confirmed the finding using objective sleep measures.
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In & Out of the Classroom With Vicki Helgeson
In 1990, Vicki Helgeson applied for her first job- a junior faculty position in the Psychology Department at Carnegie Mellon University. Helgeson, now a professor of psychology, has been here ever since, teaching and building an impressive program of health psychology research. Full Story








World Economic Forum Selects CMU BrainHub Startup as Technology Pioneer
Neon's proprietary technology uses cognitive science, neuroscience and machine learning tools to understand how humans see and react to images, and selects images that emotionally resonate with viewers.
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LearnLab Summer School
When Bill Buttlar, a professor and associate dean at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his colleagues were charged with revamping their graduate program, they decided to attend CMU to learn how to effectively implement cognitive tutors.
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BrainHub Research Projects Receive ProSEED Funding
Psychology professors are teaming up with engineering faculty members to develop a high-resolution and portable EEG. This is just one example of the six newly funded projects.


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The CoAx Lab
In the Cognitive Axon Lab, Timothy Verstynen and his lab members study the structural and functional aspects of the brain-why the brain is wired the way it is and how this wiring is related to cognition.


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Mind-Body Connection
When fourth year Ph.D. student Emily Lindsay began practicing yoga in college, it completely changed her life. After just a few weeks, she was less stressed, sleeping better and more productive in her classes. She became fascinated by the mind-body connection and has spent much of her time in Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Psychology investigating how people can manage their thoughts and feelings to improve their health.


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Learning in the Real World Tops Learning From a Tablet
New research from CMU's Simon Initiative show that although screen technologies are ubiquitous and certainly appealing for children, kids still need real-world experimentation with physical objects to enhance their learning.


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Scientists Gain First Glimpse of New Concepts Developing in the Brain
Published in Human Brain Mapping, the scientists have - for the first time - documented the formation of a newly learned concept inside the brain, which shows that it occurs in the same brain areas for everyone.


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Nature + Nurture
If you see a snake or spider, chances are it will scare you. Is your fear inherent or learned?

David Rakison believes it is both and that nature and nurture work together to help you develop fear for potentially threatening recurrent evolutionary threats. Rakison, associate professor of psychology, studies how infants learn about the world around them.


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Aspiring and Ambitious
Anna Vande Velde is one driven young lady. Hailing from Cassadaga, N.Y., a farm-town of only 600 people, she came to Carnegie Mellon University for its highly-rated psychology program in order to work in the field of child development. This is an aim she's had in one manner or another since a young age.

Aspiring to become a clinical psychologist and work with children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Vande Velde continually strived in her education as a psychology major to reach this objective.


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Marlene Behrmann Elected To National Academy of Sciences
Behrmann, the George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and CMU co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), is the first female scientist from CMU to be elected to the NAS.


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Carnegie Mellon Scientists Appear in "Fastball"
Faculty members from the Psychology Department are making their debut in Fastball, a baseball documentary produced by CMU Trustee Thomas Tull and directed by eight-time Emmy winner Jonathan Hock for Legendary Sports. The film premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival.


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Autism: Making Progress
According to a 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, autism - a complex developmental disease - will affect one out of every 68 children born in the United States. The lifetime cost to care for a child with autism is estimated to be as great as $2.4 million.

But, while no single cause or cure has yet to be found, there is optimism as researchers - including several at Carnegie Mellon University - are making significant progress with groundbreaking discoveries that are being highlighted this April during National Autism Awareness Month.


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Researchers study the brain and technical material
As part of the global effort to explore and understand complex behaviors of the brain, Robert Mason, senior research associate and Marcel Just, director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging (CCBI) at Carnegie Mellon, have been studying how the brain learns and processes successive information.


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Teaching Science to the Brain: Carnegie Mellon Scientists Discover How the Brain Learns the Way Things Work
For the first time, Carnegie Mellon University scientists have traced the brain processes that occur during the learning of technical concepts. Published in NeuroImage, the findings reveal how new technical knowledge is built up in the brain during the course of different learning stages. The findings foreshadow the capability to assess the effectiveness of instruction and efficiency of learning by monitoring changes in the brain.


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BrainHub Announces Recipients of ProSEED Funding
Eight new neuroscience projects propose innovative solutions to some of the most pressing questions in brain science and represent the university's strengths in biology, computer science, psychology, statistics and engineering. The projects out of the Psychology Department are Measuring Brain Changes During Stress Management Training and ConnPort: Creating a Standardized Interface To Access Human Connectome Data.


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Mind over mucus? CMU researcher gives subjects common colds to test psychological factors in immune systems
Sheldon Cohen, a CMU professor, will put three decades of groundbreaking research online. (One conclusion: Hugs do help.)


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Tina Liu is a recipient of the 2015 Elsevier/Vision Research Travel Award
Tina Liu is a recipient of the 2015 Elsevier/Vision Research Travel Award (VSS Student Travel Award) for the 2015 Annual VSS Meeting. This is an extremely competitive award, with over 200 applicants expressing interest this year. The Awards Committee's recommendations was based on a wide range of factors, including the scientific merit and potential impact of her research as described in the abstract, the statement and C.V., and letters of recommendation.




Researchers Reveal How Mindfulness Training Affects Health
CMU Psychology Professor J. David Creswell and graduate student Emily K. Lindsay have developed a model suggesting that mindfulness influences health via stress reduction pathways. Their work, published in "Current Directions in Psychological Science," describes the biological pathways linking mindfulness training with reduced stress and stress-related disease outcomes.


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Bringing Texture to Flat Touchscreens: New Insight Into How Brain Understands Data From Fingers
Roberta Klatzky, the Charles J. Queenan Jr. Professor of Psychology and Human Computer Interaction, was part of a team that developed a new mathematical model and experimental results on "haptic illusions" that could one day lead to flatscreen displays featuring active touchback technology, such as making your touchscreen's keyboard actually feel like a keyboard.


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Can hugs make you healthier?
even though itís February, Iím not sick. How does that work? Some new research from Carnegie Mellon University might give us some clues. In their most recent study, Cohen and colleagues used questionnaires to assess how socially supported each of their 406 study volunteers felt, and used daily telephone interviews to tally up the interpersonal conflicts that had happened that day. The researchers recorded one more thing that hadnít been studied before: the number of hugs each volunteer had received.


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Researchers Discover "Idiosyncratic" Brain Patterns in Autism
New research recently published in Nature Neuroscience shows the brains of individuals with autism display unique synchronization patterns, something that could impact earlier diagnosis of the disorder and future treatments.


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