News – 2017-2018

Autistic Siblings and Vaccination Rates

A recent study by Professor Karen Dobkins finds that California kids with an autistic older sibling are less likely to be vaccinated. KPBS reports on this fascinating New England Journal of Medicine article.

Read the article here

Kids Praised for Being Smart Are More Likely to Cheat

New research from Professor Gail Heyman finds that kids praised for being smart are quicker to give up in the face of obstacles, and are also more likely to be dishonest and cheat. Read more about these intriguing findings here.

EdX Course - "The Science of Parenting"

Professor David Barner launched a free, online course “The Science of Parenting” in mid-August on the edX platform. “My goal is to train students to reason about the science of parenting – how to be savvy consumers of science,” said Barner. On Sept. 7, Barner hosted an “Ask Me Anything“ live chat on Reddit about the course and parenting in general. Enrollment in the class is ongoing. Click here to read more!

2017 Keith Rayner Memorial Awardees Announced

Congratulations to Katherine Hebert and Annemiek D. Barsingerhorn on receiving the 2017 Rayner Memorial Award. The Rayner Memorial Award is given to a graduate student presenting at the biannual European Conference on Eye Movements (ECEM) to recognize outstanding early career contributions to research on eye-movement measurement techniques to study perceptual or cognitive processes.

Click here for more information about this prestigious award.

Reducing Racial Bias in Children

Co-authored by Professor Gail Heyman and published in Child Development, an international study suggests that one way to reduce implicit racial bias is by teaching young kids to distinguish among faces of a different race. The study shows promising results for a simple touch-screen app. A first-person piece written by Heyman for the Conversation also describes the research and was picked up by such outlets as and the Associated Press. Click here to read more! 

Times Higher Education World University Rankings for Psychology

The 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings’ table for psychology places UC San Diego’s Department of Psychology at No. 11! Click here for the full list of top universities for psychology. 

Professor David Barner Honored with a Chancellor's Award

Join us in congratulating Professor David Barner, who was honored with a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Scholar Mentoring. This prestigious award is given in recognition of the mentors who contribute to making UC San Diego one of the top research institutions in the nation. Click here to read more!

Less Than Skin Deep

How sensitive is the human sense of touch? Sensitive enough to feel the difference between surfaces that differ by just a single layer of molecules, shows a new study co-led by Professor V. S. Ramachandran, along with Darren Lipomi of the Jacobs School of Engineering. The study could pave the way for developing electronic skin and prosthetics that can feel, as well as for advanced haptic technology for virtual and augmented reality. Click here to read more about this study.

Social, Climbing: Tackling Tough Issues

UC San Diego’s Annual Report features two examples of how we address trenchant social problems: eyewitness research by Professor John Wixted that seeks to improve criminal justice and the upward mobility work being done through the Yankelovich Center that aims to restore the American Dream.

Click here to read the report.

Shaming People About Their Lifestyle Habits Does Nothing to Improve Their Health

Religions and reality TV shows may turn to shame to get results but evoking the feeling in a medical setting can be harmful, suggests this piece in The Conversation, citing 2014 research by Professor Christine Harris. Click here to read the article!

The 9 Most Important Scientific Studies for Parents of 2017

Compiled by parenting website Fatherly and reported in the Huffington Post, the list includes a study by Professor Gail Heyman. The study suggests it’s possible to reduce implicit racial bias in young children by teaching them to distinguish among faces of a different race. Click here to read the article!

The Science of Parenting

A free online class by Professor David Barner starts up again Jan. 23. Offered on the edX platform, the course teaches how to be a better parent – and a better consumer of parenting advice. Click here to learn more and sign up at edX!

NSF's Best of 2017

The National Science Foundation’s Science360 news service picked as its best video of the year one that features the work of Professor Rain Bosworth. Bosworth and colleagues are investigating perception and cognition in both deaf and hearing babies. Read more here

How Your Brain Remembers What You Had for Dinner Last Night

Confirming earlier computational models, Professor John Wixted with Larry Squire of the School of Medicine and colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report in PNAS that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus of the human brain by distinct, sparse sets of neurons. “Scientists are interested in these issues not only because of their implications for models of memory, but also for health-related reasons,” Wixted said. “For example, degeneration in this region of the brain is responsible for memory loss in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.” Click here to read more about this study.

A Peek Into the Brains of Children With Autism May Lead to Better Treatments

There are plenty of theories about how autism interferes with development of social skills. But there’s considerably less hard evidence about what’s actually going on. A new study by Professor Leslie Carver and doctoral alumna Katherine Stavropoulos, now at UC Riverside, offers a glimpse. Covered by the Union-Tribune, the study compares the neural activity of children with and without autism. Click here to read this article.

A Picture Might Be Worth More Than a Thousand Words

Even a 10-millisecond flash of an image can change people’s behavior, while similarly charged words do not, finds a study by Professor Piotr Winkielman. Click here to read more about this fascinating study.

Did a Study Show That Dogs Exhibit Jealousy?, the popular website that separates Internet facts from fiction, checks out a meme based on work by Professor Christine Harris. Click here to read more!

Data Released From Adolescent Brain Development Study

The ABCD study – the largest long-term study of the developing adolescent brain in the United States –has released its first datasets to scientists worldwide: 30 terabytes of data. That’s about three times the size of the Library of Congress collection. The ABCD study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is headed by a cross-disciplinary team of social and medical scientists at UC San Diego, including our very own Professor Sandra Brown (UCSD Vice Chancellor for Research) and Terry Jernigan of Cognitive Science. Read more here!

APA Releases New Journal Article Reporting Standards

The American Psychological Association recently put out a new set of standards for researchers seeking to publish in scholarly journals. Aimed at increasing transparency, the standards guide quantitative and qualitative research reporting and were developed by two working groups. Professor Mark Appelbaum led the quantitative group, producing a set of standards that focus on enhancing reproducibility. See more here.

Trump Blames Video Games for School Shootings – Here’s What Science Says

“There is no scientific evidence that confirms or disconfirms that speculation,” said Professor Mark Appelbaum, chair of a 2015 American Psychological Association Task Force on Violent Media, to Time magazine. Click here to read more!

Babies Can Spot Language, Even When It’s Not Spoken

Professor Rain Bosworth presented on her work at AAAS, showing that babies are as primed to learn a visual language as they are a spoken one. Science magazine covered Bosworth’s presentation (read here), as did Red Tricycle and others. 

Kaplan Lecture and Athenaeum Membership

Professor V.S. Ramachandran gave the Edith Kaplan Memorial Lecture at the 46th annual meeting of the International Neuropsychology Society in Washington, DC. He has also been elected a member of the Athenaeum in London – one of the oldest exclusive clubs with members “who have obtained some distinction in science, literature, or the arts.” Early known members include Michael Faraday and Charles Darwin.

UCSD to Offer a Business Psychology Major Fall 2018

Psychology will offer a new degree this coming fall, a B.S. in business psychology, designed to train students to apply psychological principles to the workplace and to organizational challenges and opportunities. UC San Diego will be the first school in the UC system to offer the degree. Learn more about this new major here.

Asking Children One Simple Question Can Jump-Start Learning

Professor and developmental psychologist Caren Walker is trying to find ways to help young children learn more effectively, and parents might be surprised to know that one way to do that starts with just one question: Why? Learn more here


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