Childhood Adversity, Neurocognitive Functioning, and Developmental Outcomes

"This directed research opportunity promises a direct mentorship with one of our graduate students or project coordinators. They can help you to meet your personal career and research goals, from getting better acquainted with your field of interest to applying for graduate school programs (if desired)."


Supervising Faculty: Jamie L. Hanson, Ph.D.

Contact: Eva Bacas - e.bacas@pitt.edu

Area of Research:  Clinical psychology, Developmental psychology

Description of Research: Our research projects explore the connections between exposure to early life stress/adversity, alterations in neurocognitive functioning (e.g., reward processing; cognitive control or other “executive functions”), and developmental outcomes. Some of the work has an explicit focus on the development of depression, while other subprojects center in on school motivation and academic achievement. This often means working with youth (during adolescence; in middle and high school) or samples of adults from the community, with varying levels of stress exposure. This work often involves completing short behavioral tasks (similar to simple videogames). We look for associations between early life stress/adversity and different developmental outcomes, and whether candidate neurocognitive functions “mediate” (or statistically explain) those relations.

Duties of Students: We are looking for enthusiastic and highly motivated undergraduate students who are interested in actively participating in ongoing research projects. Students must commit to at least 9 hours of lab work each week. Tasks include recruiting participants, conducting phone screens, scheduling and running study sessions, and managing data. Students will also have the opportunity to conduct literature reviews and synthesize past research studies into written work.

Requirements:

  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • 12 credits of Psychology (including current term)
  • STAT 0200/1000/1100 Statistics
  • PSY 0036 Research Methods Lecture
  • PSY 0037 Research Methods Lab
  • Meet departmental criteria for eligibility for directed research
  • Register for 3 units of directed research (9 hours per week)
  • Two-semester commitment required
  • Overall GPA of 3.5 or higher
  • Competitive applicants will have prior experience with research including running participants in study sessions and statistical or programming experience.

Terms offered: Fall, Spring

Number of students: 3-5