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November 10, 2019

Prof Freyd’s DARVO Concept Featured on South Park

DARVO on South Park

DARVO on South Park

Professor Jennifer Freyd’s concept of “Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender”, or DARVO, in a perpetrator’s response to accusation was featured in a recent episode of the Comedy Central show South Park. Now that’s what we call effective Science Communication! Congrats, Professor Freyd, on your conceptualization reaching the mainstream!

November 1, 2019

New Research on The Wisdom of Randomness

Congratulations to grad Atsushi Kikumoto and Department Head Ulrich Mayr on the publication of “Balancing model-based and memory-free action selection under competitive pressure” in eLife! They show how people make rule-based choices after they win but strategically shift to a random strategy following losses. Ready more here and below!

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so the saying goes. And studies show that in many situations, we do have a tendency to repeat whatever we did last time, particularly if it led to success. But while this is an efficient way to decide what to do, it is not always the best strategy. In many competitive situations – from tennis matches to penalty shoot-outs – there are advantages to being unpredictable. You are more likely to win if your opponent cannot guess your next move.

Based on this logic, Kikumoto and Mayr predicted that in competitive situations, people will toggle between two different decision-making strategies. When they are winning, they will choose their next move based on their beliefs about their opponent’s strategy. After all, if your opponent in a tennis match has failed to return your last three backhands, it is probably worth trying a fourth. But if an action no longer leads to success, people will switch tactics. Rather than deciding what to do based on their opponent’s strategy and recent behavior, they will instead select their next move more at random. If your tennis opponent suddenly starts returning your backhands, trying any other shot will probably produce better results.

To test this prediction, Kikumoto and Mayr asked healthy volunteers to play a game against real or computer opponents. The game was based on the ‘matching pennies’ game, in which each player has to choose between two responses. If both players choose the same response, player 1 wins. If each player chooses a different response, player 2 wins. Some of the opponents used response strategies that were easy to figure out; others were less predictable. The results showed that after wins, the volunteers’ next moves reflected their beliefs about their opponent’s strategy. But after losses, the volunteers’ next moves were based less on previous behaviors, and were instead more random. These differences could even be seen in the volunteers’ brainwaves after win and loss trials.

September 10, 2019

Introducing Ksana Health, Prof Allen’s Digital Mental Health Company

Congratulations to Professor Nicholas Allen on the launch and funding of his digital mental health company, Ksana Health. The company grew out of Allen’s research on mental health and suicide prevention. Read more here.

Co-founded by Allen and Will Shortt, a software business leader and startup CEO, Ksana Health was recently launched with a mission to improve mental health outcomes. Its aim is to bring the therapy plan out of the office and into the patient’s daily life via a personalized mental health platform.

The company is considered a spinoff because it stems directly from UO research: an evidence-based, peer-reviewed research platform developed at the Center for Digital Mental Health, where Allen serves as director.

Ksana leverages the Effortless Assessment Research System apps for iOS and Android devices, which passively pull data from a patient’s phone related to known mental health vectors — such as sleep, physical activity, social interaction and self-reporting — and securely share that objective data with a therapist. The therapist will be able to quickly view the data, discuss it in therapy and build a plan with “nudges” in the apps that will remind patients of their scheduled therapy plan throughout their week, along with their medications and appointments.

December 10, 2018

Kikumoto, Mayr Research Featured in Around the O!

Research by doctoral candidate Atshusi Kikumoto and department chair Ulrich Mayr was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal eLife and featured in an edition of Around the O.
(more…)

October 14, 2018

Passing of Helen Neville

Helen Neville

We report with great sadness that Professor Emerita Helen Neville passed away on Friday, October 12, after years of confounding and increasing health issues. According to Helen’s sister Keet, she went peacefully. Close family members and friends, including her son Justin who had arrived just in time from Scotland, were with her during the last days; she was aware of their presence.

Helen was one of the most influential and visionary psychologists and neuroscientists of her time. She has done groundbreaking work on  the neural basis of language, the plasticity of sensory/attentional/language systems, and most recently on how to leverage her insights in order to attack negative effects of poverty on the brain.

Helen has received a long list of prestigious awards, including the William James Fellow Award from APS and a membership in the National Academy of Science.

For the department and the university (which she joined in 1995) she was an extremely important and forceful presence. In particular the Lewis Center for Neuroimaging would not have happened without her tireless lobbying of the university administration and her engagement with donors.

Helen leaves behind an extended scientific family of former students, postdocs, and colleagues. In May of this year the department had hosted an event that celebrated Helen’s legacy. Members of this family came from across the country and from as far away as Sweden and Japan. It was clear from the contributions and conversations how important and influential Helen’s scientific and personal energy and style had been for everybody present. Fortunately, during that event Helen was still strong enough to receive the gratitude of those whose lives she had touched.

There likely will be an event to celebrate and acknowledge Helen’s life; we will post updates on our departmental website and on social media as the plans for this evolve. We have created a tribute page where people whose lives Helen touched can post thoughts, remembrances, testimonials, and so forth, that will be displayed and preserved on our website.

Our thoughts are with Helen’s close family and relatives.

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August 14, 2018

Dr. Freyd Receives APA Award

Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Freyd, who received an award from the Trauma Psychology division of the American Psychological Association! (more…)

May 20, 2018

State of the Department Report 2018

We are pleased to share our inaugural State of the Department Report for the 2017-2018 Academic Year. This report was compiled in response to a call from the Provost to set goals and monitor progress, and is an intended to be a frank assessment of our accomplishments for the present year and aspirations for the next. We think we had a pretty good year!

May 11, 2018

Award-winning Faculty Members

Three of our outstanding faculty members have won awards recently celebrating their impressive careers!

Dr. Dare Baldwin is a recipient of a 2018 Faculty Research Award from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation for her work on “Harnessing Pupillometry to Monitor Infants’ Auditory Health.”

Dr. Elliot Berkman has been awarded the Graduate Mentor Excellence award from the graduate school for his laudable skills as a mentor for graduate students, postdocs, and early career faculty.

Dr. Jennifer Freyd has earned her second fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University to pursue the research project “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Sexual Violence: Individual, Institutional and Structural Forces.”

Congratulations to our faculty!

April 24, 2018

Department to Celebrate the Career of Dr. Helen Neville

The psychology department will gather in celebration of Dr. Helen Neville’s illustrious career and wish her a well-deserved retirement. Details for this celebration are below.

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