Altered States at the Society for Psychophysiological Research

T Patrick - P Woody

Toni Patrick (left) & Patrick Woody (right)

Toni Patrick (Natural Science ’15) and Patrick Woody (Psychology ’17) presented their research on the effect of migraines on brain activity at the annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research in Seattle, WA on September 30. Students and alumni from the Rosa Deal School of Arts and the School of Sciences, including Ms. Patrick, Mr. Woody, Katelyn Baker (Biochemistry ’16), Stephanie Allen-Winters (Biology ’14), and April Collins (Psychology ’15), collaborated with Dr. Jeff Sable (Behavioral Sciences) to conduct the research.

Patrick and Woody gave a research talk as part of “Altered States: Undergraduate-Driven EEG/ERP Research on Attention, Cognition, and Emotion,” a panel chaired by Sable that also included research presentations from two other institutions. “This was the first time students of mine have given a talk at a conference of this caliber,” said Sable. “It was really exciting!” Patrick said, “Going into SPR [the meeting] I was super nervous, but having those 15 minutes of fame was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced. Not only was I exposed to an immense amount of research but I networked like a pro!” Patrick and Woody also presented a poster based on the same study, which contained additional findings and allowed the students to discuss the research with other scientists. “It was a great opportunity to see how even undergraduates are a part of a larger research community,” noted Woody.

The study began in Sable’s Psychophysiology course in Spring 2014 and was completed by Ms. Patrick and Mr. Woody during the 2014-2015 academic year. It involved recording brain activity, called event-related brain potentials (ERPs), triggered by sounds. The research was conducted with Biopac and Cedrus equipment and software in the Psychology Laboratory at CBU. The ERPs were then examined comparing, people with and without migraines (although participants were not having a migraine at the time of recording). The ERPs were larger in those with migraines, indicating that there is increased activity in the brains of people with migraines.

A poster presented later in the meeting included CBU alumni Rochelle Rodriguez and Katelynn Hicks (both Psychology ’15) as co-authors, in addition to Sable. This study, comparing ERPs to English language sounds in native English and native Japanese speakers, was conducted in collaboration with faculty and students at the University of Memphis.

Abstracts for all of the presentations have been published in a supplement to Psychophysiology, which is the journal of the Society for Psychophysiological Research.

The Society’s annual meeting is an international conference, drawing scientists mostly from North America and Europe, but also from other countries around the world. It included addresses by Daniel Schacter (Harvard University) and Marcus Raichle (Washington University), both of whom are leading figures in the fields of cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.