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.

    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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.