About This ProjectThe research aims to show that fluctuations in hormones are related to differences in left/right brain processing. The study will focus on the processing of words presented either to the left or right areas of the brain. The participants in the study will be women who are not using hormone-based contraceptives. They will be tested multiple times over the course of their menstrual cycle.
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What is the context of this research?
Researchers have known for many decades that the left and right hemispheres have specialized functions. The left hemisphere is involved in language and analytical processing, as well as other types of processing. The right hemisphere is involved in spatial and emotional processing, as well other types of processing. Many research methodologies have been used to study hemispheric differences in processing, such as expensive brain imaging and the relatively inexpensive divided visual field paradigm. Recently, my lab has published research using this technique and shown that the right hemisphere is more involved in the processing of words learned early in life (before the age of 4) than words learned later in life (Bowers, Kennison, & Bradley, 2013).
What is the significance of this project?
The expected results will show that processing of the left and right hemispheres of the brain is influenced by hormone levels. In men and women, hormone levels fluctuate over time. For example, in men, hormone levels change throughout the day. In women, there are significant changes in hormone levels throughout each month. While prior research has shown that hormone levels can influence some aspects of cognitive processing, such as verbal memory and spatial processing, few studies have investigated the strong possibility that hormones affect processing in the left and right hemispheres differently.
What are the goals of the project?
The project will utilize the materials tested previously by Bowers, Kennison, and Bradley (2013). The research assistant will be required to set up the new experiment using the experiment management software EPrime, prepare the application for the Institutional Review Board, schedule and test participants in individual sessions. Female participants who are not using hormone-based contraception will be recruited from the Department of Psychology's Human Research Subject Pool and tested at varying times during their menstrual cycle. Following the collection of the data, the research assistant will work on analyzing the data, disseminating the data in a conference poster, and drafting the research report for publication in an academic journal.
The funds will be used to 1) pay an undergraduate research assistant for 10-15 hours of work per week over the course of a semester (4-5 months) and 2) pay research participants for their time.
Paying a student will enable the student to obtain research experience as paid work. Many college students at my institution must work outside of school and cannot afford to get research experience on a volunteer basis.
Paying participants for each study session is necessary because past experience indicates that participants will have a high drop out rate if they are tested on a volunteer basis.
Meet the Team
Team BioI am a professor of experimental psychology at Oklahoma State University, specializing in research topics related to memory and language. I am passionate about mentoring students in research and helping students figure out what questions they would like to answer using the scientific method. I have mentored over 100 students in laboratory research. Six of my students have received externally funded research grants, such as from Sigma Xi and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.. I have coauthored 24 peer reviewed articles with students (10 undergraduate, 14 graduate). I have co-authored 62 national or regional conference presentations with students (19 undergrad, 43 graduate). So far in my career, I have obtained $1,325,111 in external research funding and have $107, 202 in smaller grants for teaching related activities. In 2013, I published the book "Introduction to Language Development" with Sage Publications.
Shelia M. Kennison, Ph.D.
When I was 12 years old living on a farm in rural West Virginia, I was fascinated by how the mind/brain worked. I wondered where thoughts and ideas came from. A few years ago, I realized that I am actually studying the questions that have always intrigued me.I am a professor of experimental psychology at Oklahoma State University, specializing in research topics related to memory and language. So far in my career, I have obtained $1,325,111 in external research funding and have $107, 202 in smaller grants for teaching related activities.
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