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Brain Teaser

August 30, 2016

Undergraduate and graduate students in the Psychology Psychophysiology Research Lab collaborate with faculty to study behavior.

Brain Teaser

Imagine hearing a noise similar to a train whistle in a corner of a room. Now imagine that your brain's response to the noise can be recorded on a graph on a computer screen. Students in UMD's three-year-old Master of Arts in Psychological Sciences (MAPS) program aren't just imagining, they are seeing it happen. These students are physically recording brain activity of the sights and sounds that create sensations in our minds.

The world these undergraduate and graduate students study is complex. The students collaborate with psychology faculty to study human behavior using state-of-the-art psychophysiology recording equipment. That allows them to conduct experiments to measure how the brain responds to a specific stimulus.

Students prepare for a demonstration of the brain cap.

Assistant Professor Rebecca Gilbertson works with Dustyn Leff and Moriah Willis to prepare the electroencephalography experiment.

This summer, some of their experiments in the Psychology Psychophysiology Student Research Lab involved an electroencephalography cap. The cap records electrical activity in different parts of the brain. The students hope to use the preliminary data from these experiments to inform future Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) projects and graduate thesis questions.

Dustyn Leff, a MAPS student, provides support for coordinating the lab. He has two undergraduate majors, one in psychology and one in biology, and the combo is a perfect fit for his work in psychophysiology. "It is a great program to be involved in. This new equipment allows us to expand on what types of experiments we are able to do," says Dustyn.

The psychology psychophysiology student lab is co-directed by Scott Carlson, head of the Psychology Department and Rebecca Gilbertson, assistant professor.  Together, with support from the department and CEHSP, they have brought in advanced technology to aid student learning.  

Top photo. (l-r) Front - Summer student Jillian Hujanen, (B.A.Sc., Psychology) in the MAPS program and summer student Moriah Willis, McNair Scholar, CSS (seated). Back: Hunter Schepper, B.A., in the MAPS program, Dustyn Leff, (B.A.Sc., Psychology, B.S. in Biology) also in the MAPS program and summer student.

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