Recent Submissions

  • Blinding Crystals: Monosodium Urate Crystals and Diabetic Retinopathy

    Amanamba, Udochukwu; Department of Psychological Sciences (Augusta University, 2020-12)
    Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a common complication of diabetes and the main cause of blindness among adults of working age. Previous studies have established that high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) promote chronic sub-clinical inflammation which in turn causes retinal tissue injury and development of DR. It has also been shown that increased levels of uric acid, a by-product of the purine metabolism, generates crystals of monosodium urate (MSU) which could contribute to retinal inflammation and to the development of DR. My honors thesis project focused on investigating the molecular basis of inflammation in diabetic retinopathy (DR), specifically how MSU stimulates sterile inflammation in retinal blood vessels cells and in other retinal cells through the induction of the NLRP3-inflammasome. Human retinal endothelial (HuREC) and Human retinal epithelial cells (HuRPE) were treated with clinically relevant doses of MSU (6mg/dL) or high glucose (HG 25mM) or a combination of both. The expression of NLRP3 inflammasome constituents such as IL-1, NLRP3 protein, Toll-like receptor (TLR4), Gasdermin D (GSDMD) and Thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) were monitored using Western blotting analysis and ELISA assay. Morphometric analysis and ANOVA statistical approaches were employed to analyze the data. The results obtained showed that HuREC are more responsive to MSU alone than HuRPE. However, in all conditions, MSU significantly potentiated the production of inflammatory constituents of the NLRP3 inflammasome. Overall, the results of my studies support MSU as a contributing factor to the pathogenesis of DR. This suggests that uricemia should be monitored in diabetic patients and hypouricemic drugs could be helpful in combating DR and vision loss in diabetic patients.
  • The Effect of Instructor Mindset on Student Motivation and Self-Efficacy

    Restrepo, Leigha; Department of Psychological Sciences (Augusta University, 2020-07)
    Dweck’s theory of mindset proposes two different mindsets a person may have: fixed or growth (Dweck, 2007). A person with a fixed mindset believes intelligence is fixed and a person with a growth mindset believes that they can improve their intelligence with effort (Dweck, 2007; Murphy & Dweck, 2016). The present study was designed to examine the effect of an instructors’ apparent mindset on the expectations of success and persistence in STEM disciplines among students. Students were presented with sample syllabi that portrayed an instructor with either a fixed or growth mindset and completed questionnaires and a short, written reflection to measure their perception of mindset, self-efficacy, and motivation. Results of this study revealed that students expected a higher grade, reported more academic self-efficacy, and had a positive perception of the instructor after reading the growth syllabus. Overall, Black students reported more academic self-efficacy than White students and reported more academic self-handicapping after reading the growth syllabus. Students reported that the attributions (gender, minority, status, effort/ hard work, luck, difficulty of the course, intelligence/ ability) contributed more to their grade in the class after reading the growth mindset syllabus than the fixed syllabus, with difficulty of the course and intelligence/ ability significantly contributing to their perceived grade in the class after reading the fixed syllabus. The mindset portrayed by an instructor can have an impact on the student through a decrease in their overall academic performance. Examining the different ways in which a change in the mindset that is portrayed can help to increase student motivation and expectations.
  • AN EXPERIMENTAL ANALYSIS OF TIANEPTINE AS A TREATMENT FOR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

    Packer, Jonathan; Department of Psychological Sciences (Augusta University, 2020-07)
    This study set out to determine the effectiveness of using tianeptine as a treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI). A controlled cortical impact model was utilized to induce a bilateral moderate TBI in the frontal cortex of the rat. Sham surgeries were performed to ensure an accurate control group. Rats received 30mg/kg tianeptine, or an equal volume of saline one hour following injury and once a day for nineteen days following surgery. Rats were tested for behavioral, motor, and cognitive deficits using the following tasks: Morris water maze (reference and working memory), foot fault task, forelimb use asymmetry task, open field task, and the passive avoidance task. As well, the brains were analyzed for differences in remaining cortical tissue following injury. Significant improvement was found in the Morris water maze reference memory task, the foot fault task, and the open field task for injured rats receiving tianeptine. Similarly, significant improvement was found in the remaining cortical tissue following injury in rats receiving tianeptine. Taken together, these results indicate tianeptine may be a viable treatment for improving recovery following TBI in rats.
  • PREDICTING TRAINEE PSYCHOTHERAPIST GRADUATE STUDENT SUCCESS WITH ACADEMIC AND PERSONALITY MEASURES

    Lewis, Casey; Department of Psychological Sciences (Augusta University, 2019-12)
    Success in counseling psychology programs includes both academic and clinical performance. Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and undergraduate grade point average (UGPA) have been linked to the academic aspects of success in programs (e.g., Daehnert & Carter, 1987). Letters of recommendation, personal statements, and interviews are thought to assess interpersonal functioning, which is important in therapeutic ability (e.g., Barnicot, Wampold, & Priebe, 2014). However, these assessments have significant limitations. The current study uses standardized personality assessments in conjunction with GRE and UGPA to predict student success. The Empathic Concern subscale of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI; Davis, 1980, 1983) was used to assess self-reported empathy. Additionally, a performance-based measure, the Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale – Global Rating Method (SCORS-G; Westen, 1995) was used to rate Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1973) narratives to assess trainees’ interpersonal functioning. Variables related to students’ completion vs. non-completion of the first year of a master in clinical and counseling psychology program were analyzed using t-tests and discriminant function analyses. Our findings suggest that a performance-based measure of interpersonal ability is useful at assessing applicants to counseling psychology programs, while GRE scores may not be as useful in the admissions process. Additionally, a significantly higher rate of male vs. female non-completers may reveal a trend in clinical/counseling psychology programs that needs to be addressed.
  • Effects of Withholding Cell Phones on Students' Autonomic Arousal, State Anxiety, and Test Scores

    Recinos, Manderley; Streets, Hannah; Gaffney, Jasmine; Department of Psychological Sciences; Johnson, Michelle; Augusta University (2019-02-13)
    Approximately 85% of Americans aged 18-29 have smartphones. Many people report that they get agitated when their phones are not immediately accessible.1,2Researchers studying the links between phone use and academic performance have focused on their disruptive nature (e.g., texting). No research has examined the effects of withholding phones during testing on test performance. The objective of this study was to assess whether withholding phones during testing affected students state anxiety, skin conductance (SC), and test scores. State anxiety is situationally determined, transitory, and associated with autonomic nervous system activation. SC (sweat gland secretions) is an index of sympathetic nervous system activation. We expected higher levels of self-reported state anxiety, higher levels of SC, and lower test performance among students who had their phones withheld compared with students who kept their phones. Eighty-six students participated. There were three conditions: phones withheld but kept in the same room as testing condition (n= 31), phones withheld but sequestered in a different room (n= 28), and control where students were not separated from their phones (n= 27). One-way MANOVA revealed no differences between the groups in state anxiety, SC or test scores. Data did reveal interesting trends we would like to discuss.
  • EFFECT OF GABAERGIC NEURONS IN SUSCEPTIBLE VERSUS RESILIENT MALE RATS TO PTSD

    Dixon, Rachel; Mandavilli, Rohan; Department of Phychological Sciences; Department of Biological Sciences; Departmetn of Pharmacology & Toxicology; Bunting, Kristopher M; Alexander, Khadijah; Vazdarjanova, Almira; Augusta University (2019-02-13)
    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder that can occur after a traumatic event. Individuals with PTSD exhibit extreme anxiety and learning and memory difficulties. Once exposed, 12-35% develop PTSD with women twice as likely to be affected than men. Our goal is to discover underlying mechanisms to prevent PTSD, as we investigate the relevance of glutamic acid decarboxylase positive (GAD+) neurons on susceptible (SUS) and resilient (RES) male rats. SUS and RES phenotypes were assessed using the highly advanced RISP protocol to reveal susceptibility to a PTSD-like phenotype. The increase of GAD+ cells in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) informs us that more GABAergic neurons are present, which can cause inappropriate recall. We will be examining if there is a difference in the number of GAD+ cells in the RES versus SUS male rats. To investigate, we used cryosectioned brains from SUS or RES rats. The brains were stained using immunohistochemistry to isolate the GAD+ neurons in the mPFC and were counted. The results of this experiment will be determined and examined at a later date closer to our presentation. We expect to see a SUS male rats to have a higher number of GAD+ neurons.
  • THE MECHANISM OF INVERSE AGONISTS ON HISTAMINE RECEPTORS, HISTAMINE RECEPTOR H1, AND HISTAMINE RECEPTOR H2

    Patel, Shrey P; Department of Phychological Sciences; Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology; Lambert, Nevin; Augusta University (2019-02-13)
    The experiment discusses the role of inverse agonist binding to receptors and how its effect cell signaling. The specific receptors that was focused on in the project was histamine receptor H1 (HRH1) and histamine receptor H2 (HRH2) which are types of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR). Both receptors are activated when a ligand, specifically a histamine molecule, which binds to the receptor and activates the signaling pathway within the cell. The main protein within the signaling pathway is the G-protein which helps the cascade effect of the signal to other molecules. G-proteins are activated through GTP. An inverse agonist works like an agonist but will have an opposite end effect within the cell. It was originally thought that inverse agonist works the same way as an agonist to recruit a GTP and activate a G-protein for signaling. The experiment being tests tries to explain the opposite that the inverse agonist could activate the protein without GTP and continue to have its effect on the cell. Human embryonic cells were transfected with plasmids that contain sequences for the receptors and the G-protein, which were also tagged with a fluorophore to measure any bioluminescence with interaction of G-protein and the receptor when the ligands binds. From collecting data from the bioluminescence effect, it shows that there is an interaction a receptor and G-protein complex when the inverse agonist is bound.
  • APOROSA OCTANDRA: STUDY THE PROTECTIVE EFFECTS OF ITS BARK EXTRACT AGAINST D-GALACTOSE INDUCED COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT AND OXIDATIVE STRESS IN MICE AND ITS PHYTOCHEMICAL INVESTIGATION

    Schinder, Sonya; Department of Chemistry and Physics; Panda, Silva; Augusta University (2019-02-13)
    Aging is a multifarious natural process, linked with several biochemical and morphological variations in the biological system. Aging not only challenges the increased vulnerability as well as homeostasis network to the cognition and locomotion but also to physical, mental or social activities. Medicinal plants have been used since ancient time to cure and prevent various diseases. Several natural compounds such as isoflavones, anthocyanins, and catechins isolated from plant sources act as a potent antioxidant against ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species).�Antioxidants, especially natural antioxidants are recommended for the prevention of aging. In this study, we utilized an unexplored traditional medicinal plant�Aporosa octandra�(Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don) that�belongs to the family�Euphorbiaceae,�sub-family Phyllanthaceae that is shrub to tree, up to 15 m high and comprises of 50 species, which are distributed throughout Asian regions. This plant is enlisted as a medicinal plant and is used for centuries in the Ayurvedic system. We investigated phytochemical contents of the plant and evaluated the biological activity.
  • Effects of Withholding Cell Phones on Students' Autonomic Arousal, State Anxiety, and Test Scores

    Recinos, Manderley; Streets, Hannah; Gaffney, Jasmine; Department of Psychological Sciences; Johnson, Michelle; Augusta University (2019-02-13)
    Approximately 85% of Americans aged 18-29 have smartphones. Many people report that they get agitated when their phones are not immediately accessible.Researchers studying the links between phone use and academic performance have focused on their disruptive nature (e.g., texting). No research has examined the effects of withholding phones during testing on test performance. The objective of this study was to assess whether withholding phones during testing affected students state anxiety, skin conductance (SC), and test scores. State anxiety is situationally determined, transitory, and associated with autonomic nervous system activation. SC (sweat gland secretions) is an index of sympathetic nervous system activation. We expected higher levels of self-reported state anxiety, higher levels of SC, and lower test performance among students who had their phones withheld compared with students who kept their phones. Eighty-six students participated. There were three conditions: phones withheld but kept in the same room as testing condition (n= 31), phones withheld but sequestered in a different room (n= 28), and control where students were not separated from their phones (n= 27). One-way MANOVA revealed no differences between the groups in state anxiety, SC or test scores. Data did reveal interesting trends we would like to discuss.
  • A Comparitive Study of Epilepsy in Galenic, Medieval Persian and Modern Medicine

    Alapatt, Vinaya Ann; Department of Psychological Sciences; Department of History, Anthropology & Philosophy; Turner, Wendy; Augusta University (2019-02-13)
    Epilepsy is an interesting neurological disorder that exists at the crossroads of biology and spirituality. This research examined the transmission of Greek theories of epilepsy from the ninth to the thirteenth century Persian medicine and compared it to the understanding of epilepsy in modern medicine. The influence of Galenic medicine on the clinical understanding of epilepsy in medieval Persian medicine (800-1400) is evident in Ibn Sina's (aka Avicenna) medical manuscripts. Given the complex technological advancements from 13th century to 21st century, substantial progression in the understanding of epilepsy from Avicennian period to modern era was expected to find. However, modern medicine is yet to crack the full codes of this "sacred" disease. Tracing the scientific history of epilepsy reveals that today's identified etiology, symptomatology, and treatments for epilepsy, which hugely benefited from the technological advancements in diagnostic means, are extensions to the medieval understanding of epilepsy. This paper is a comparative study of epilepsy in Galenic, medieval Persian and modern medicine. On a broad scale, this research serves as an example on how ideas connect people through time.
  • You Really Are Too Kind: Implications Regarding Friendly Submissiveness in Trainee Therapists

    Cain, Lylli; Department of Psychological Sciences; Augusta University (4/20/2018)
    To facilitate patient growth, therapists must immerse themselves in the patient’s world while also being able to see what is needed for change. This process requires finding a delicate balance between supporting and pushing patients. Therapists in training are additionally tasked with incorporating supervisors’ suggestions with their own views on what is needed to help their patients. Beginning therapists with tendencies to be overly accommodating may struggle to reconcile these competing demands. Thus, the aim of the present work is to explore how trainee friendly submissiveness (FS) interfaces with psychotherapy. Prior to training, clinical graduate trainee (n = 35) FS was assessed using the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems-32. Process and outcome data were then collected from each therapist’s first training case. Specifically, each trainee was assigned an undergraduate student volunteer with whom they had four non-manualized therapy sessions over the academic semester. After the third session, patients and trainees completed questionnaires assessing session impact and the working alliance, and two expert raters coded third session videotapes for techniques. Following termination, patients rated the overall helpfulness of the therapy. Trainee FS was significantly negatively associated with patient-rated depth, alliance, and overall helpfulness with moderate effects. Findings from a mediation analysis further suggested that trainees with high FS struggled to focus the therapy in a way that felt productive to patients. Implications for clinical training are discussed.
  • Operant Responding for Alcohol: A Specially Bred Animal Model of Anxiety and Alcohol Use Disorder

    Berg, Warren S.C.; Department of Psychological Sciences (Augusta University, 2017-05)
    Alcohol abuse and dependence affects a significant portion of the United States population. In America alone, approximately 17 million adults ages 18 and older and an estimated 855,000 adolescents ages 12-meet diagnostic criteria for addiction (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2016). In order to be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), an individual must meet specific criteria detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). According to the most recent edition (DSM–5), a person meeting at least two of 11 criteria during a 12-month period meets the diagnostic criteria for an AUD (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The severity of an AUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of criteria met (see Appendix B for a list of the 11 diagnostic criteria for AUD). Unfortunately, not everyone seeks assistance for their addiction. According to a report published in 2015 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), fewer than 10% of individuals with an AUD received treatment at a specialized facility. Thus, this is a very serious health concern. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that those who do receive treatment will get better. That is, despite extensive research on the etiology of AUD, high incidence, low treatment numbers, and broad treatment methodologies, researchers and clinicians have a tenuous understanding of this disorder at best. [Introduction]
  • Perception of Police Encounters: An Investigation of Racial Differences, Anxiety, and Anger, Using Video and Transcript Stimuli

    Omelian, Sam; Department of Psychological Science (2017-06)
    Due to recent nationwide news reports involving police officers shooting and killing unarmed citizens, it is important to investigate the emotional potential impact of viewing these news sources. This study had two aims. The first aim was to investigate racial grouping differences in the perception of police and anxiety and anger levels towards police. Second, the project aimed to investigate whether the form of stimulus materials, video or transcript of a police encounter, affected participants’ responses. The sample consisted of 67 college age students from a southeastern university. Participants completed pretest anxiety and anger measures and a global perception of police scale. After viewing or reading about a police-citizen encounter, they completed posttest anxiety and anger measures. Results suggested that anxiety and anger increased significantly after viewing or reading about a police encounter, with the video stimulus creating stronger affective responses. Race did not significantly influence affective responses; however, Whites perceived police more positively than Non-Whites. In general, college students reported experiencing positive police encounters themselves. Findings confirm the power of visual media on affective responses and suggest that future researchers should think carefully about whether vignettes of police encounters are the best stimulus materials to use.
  • Asian Pride & Prejudice: The Relationship Between Ethnic Identity & Mental Illness Stigma

    Fang, Shawn; Department of Psychological Sciences (2017-03)
    As Asian health professionals increasingly diversify the medical workplace, their early upbringing – characterized by acculturation, social identity, and “face” concern – may potentially exert influence on their own perceptions of mental illness. Such perceptions, often stigmatizing against others, could impact provision of medical care to the community at large. This study examines the hypothesized correlation between 1) strength of ethnic identity – as measured by an adapted version of the East Asian Ethnic Identity Scale – and 2) degree of mental illness stigma – as measured by an adapted pre-medical student version of the Mental Illness: Clinician’s Attitudes Scale. Conclusions will stem from statistical analysis of self-report online survey responses from Asian full-time college students enrolled in healthcare-oriented undergraduate studies (i.e. medicine, nursing, physical therapy, etc.). The broad aim of this study is to discern how the influence of ethnic identity could potentially interact with and predict mental illness stigma in the future patient care provided by aspiring Asian healthcare professionals. My presentation will discuss the literature-based premise for studying the intersection of culture and stigma, and I will summarize proposed protocol for the research process.
  • The Effects of Relaxing and Energizing Piano Music on Anxiety

    Santiago, Ashley M.; Department of Psychological Sciences (Augusta University, 2016-05)
    Music therapy has been studied for decades in order to investigate how and to what extent music can help people cope, or recover, from physical and mental issues. The most commonly reported mental health concern in the U.S. is anxiety (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5, 2013). Studies have shown that listening to classical styled music decreases people’s anxiety most when compared to other genres (Burns et al. 2002; Labbe, Schmidt, Babin, & Pharr, 2007), but no studies have investigated the effects of relaxing versus energizing music on human emotions or behavior. Similarly, I could find no research that explored the effect of a particular instrument, such as piano, on emotional outcomes. The aim of the present study is to determine which type of piano music, relaxing or energizing, decreases anxiety the most after the introduction of a cognitive stressor. [Introduction]
  • SoTL Scholars Speak

    Schwind, Jessica Smith; Weeks, Thomas; Reich, Nickie; Johnson, Melissa; Armstrong, Rhonda; Hartmann, Quentin; Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology; University Libraries; Department of Mathematics; University Libraries; Department of English and Foreign Languages; Department of English and Foreign Languages; Department of Psychological Sciences (2016-09)
    Jessica Smith Schwind, Learning is Contagious: Lessons in Online Course Design: Online learning environments are a key platform for teaching and learning in the 21st century, but they often try to simply recreate the classical in-person classroom. Our goal was to develop, implement and evaluate an immersive, online course where students are key players in a captivating epidemiologic outbreak investigation using a multidisciplinary team approach.; Thomas Weeks, Using threshold concepts in information literacy instruction: While "threshold concept" is a buzzword in information literacy instruction, can it be useful for single-session information literacy instruction? This project evaluated students who received instruction based in threshold concepts to see if they did better than their peers who received traditional skills-based instruction.; Nickie Reich, Lessons Learned From My First Son Project Traditional vs. Discovery Learning in College Algebra: Ms. Reich will step the audience through the planning, implementation, and analysis of her first So TL project. Knowledge gained from the experience and from the project data will be shared.; Melissa Johnson and Rhonda Armstrong, Using Freely Available Texts in a Literature Classroom: Rhonda Armstrong and Melissa Johnson will present their So TL project and discuss the challenges of creating an American Literature survey (pre-colonial to present) using freely-available texts. They will also discuss the students' attitude toward and level of engagement with digital texts.; Quentin Hartmann, Can peers improve performance? An investigation of the Think-Pair-Share teaching strategy: The Think-Pair-Share teaching strategy was tested with a class of psychology majors in a Senior Capstone course. All students did the same assignment alone, then one half of the students provided feedback to each other; the other half worked alone and all were given the option to revise their work. Performance between groups was compared.
  • Effects of Familial Substance Use on the Association between Childhood Physical Abuse and Adult Depressive Symptoms

    Cain, Lylli America; Department of Psychological Sciences (Augusta University, 2014-12)
    The objective of this study was to determine whether familial substance use serves as a moderating variable between childhood physical abuse and depressive symptomatology in adulthood. Two hypotheses were proposed: (a) that reports of childhood physical abuse and later adult depressive symptoms would correlate positively, and (b) that childhood physical abuse would be more strongly associated with adult depressive symptoms under conditions of substance use on the part of the person committing the abuse. To test these hypotheses, I asked participants about their experiences with childhood physical abuse and their current risk for depression. I also asked whether the person committing the abuse did so while under the influence of alcohol or another drug. The associations among the variables of interest (i.e., childhood physical abuse, familial substance use, and depressive symptoms scores) were not significantly correlated. Reasons for these outcomes and potential future directions for research are discussed.