With Major Research Instrumentation support, Dr. Stephanie L. Simon-Dack and her collaborators will purchase a Biosemi Electroencephalography/Event-Related Potentials (EEG/ERP) Active Two Acquisition System for the joint use of the Department of Psychological Science and the Department of Counseling and Guidance Services at Ball State University. The use of EEG/ERP technology is ideal for studying how and when attention and specific cognitive resources are recruited to perform functional acts of cognition that lead to human behavior. Through the placement of electrodes on the scalp, the equipment will allow for the non-invasive recording of electrical brain activity related to the timing and location of cognitive and emotional processes of the brain.
The participating researchers who will use the equipment collaboratively on four proposed research projects are all specialists in different and dynamic areas of psychology, and thus the equipment will allow for holistic study of thought and behavior.
Research project 1 will examine the effects of multiple sensory inputs (e.g., such as touch and hearing, or touch and sight) on the recruitment of attentional resources. This will inform future situations involving the presentation of sensory information to individuals when multiple inputs may be helpful or harmful to responding expediently (e.g., instrumentation alerts for fighter pilots; educational techniques for individuals with learning deficits).
Research project 2 will examine the neurophysiological processes involved in the comprehension of uncertainty terms (words that can have a wide range of interpretation, such as the word "probably") and will contribute to our understanding of situated language use.
Research project 3 will investigate the neural stages and timing of decision-making in individuals exposed to information that is consistent or inconsistent with previously held attitudes and beliefs. This project will allow for insight into how a person's prior beliefs can influence the decision making process.
Research project 4 will allow the investigators to examine the relationship between brain processes and psychological factors involved in good career decision-making. The high unemployment rate in the United States underscores the importance of making sound career decisions and this project aims for a greater understanding of the psychophysiological correlates underlying this process.
The proposed projects will facilitate development of neurophysiological research and training at Ball State University across multiple departments. Students (both undergraduate and graduate) will be involved in the research programs and have the opportunity to develop their own research projects using the EEG recording equipment. By coordinating efforts with the Associate Provost for Diversity, the PIs will work with the Office of Institutional Diversity to actively recruit student researchers from underrepresented groups including women, minorities, and low-income first generation college students, an endeavor that is consistent with the emphasis on diversity at the PI's home institution. Students who participate in these projects will be prepared for higher education opportunities in an increasingly competitive and physiology-focused field. Departmental and institutional access to this equipment will allow faculty and students to remain competitive in the field of psychology as emphasis on the neurophysiological correlates of thought and behavior continues to grow.