(Posted Nov 24 2005)
A new study found that the faces of women with high voices
appeared more attractive -- to both men and women -- than those
of women with lower voices. [more]
(Posted Nov 24 2005)
Living with an unrelated adult, especially an unrelated man, substantially
increases the risk that a child will die violently, researchers reported
According to the study, children who live with adults who
are not biologically related to them are nearly 50 times as
likely to die at the adults' hands as children who live with
two biological parents, the researchers said. [more]
(Posted Nov 7 2005)
After the multiple all-nighters, second-year McMaster
student Danielle Mihok was looking forward to sleeping in when
the clocks moved back one hour Sunday morning, as daylight time
(Posted Nov 7 2005)
In recent studies, men and women are in complete agreement that, when it
comes to choosing a romantic partner, a good sense of humour is crucial.
The twist is in how the two genders define this quality. [Fully
United Way Mitten Campaign
(Posted Oct 27 2005)
It's time for the Mitten Challenge. The Sekuler/Bennett
Lab has started things off by donating $40 to start and they
have 20 paper mittens dedicated to their lab. They are challenging
each lab/office to the battle for the most mittens purchased.
Last year the Shore lab won with the most cash collected
and most mittens purchased. Who will be the winner this year?
Come down to my office drop some cash into the mitten tin
(Mittens are $2 each) and then note your lab/office and amount
of cash collected.
It's that time of year again. Winter's coming and while
we all hurry to bundle up in warm jackets, scarves and mittens,
there are many in Hamilton who do not have that luxury. The
United Way campaign is an excellent way for the McMaster
community to help meet the needs of those less fortunate.
Are you still looking for a way to contribute? Why not buy
Milica Pavlica, an administrator with the Department of
Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, is geared up to sell
paper mittens in support of the United Way campaign. She
began selling the paper mittens last year during the campaign
and raised $3,346. This year, she hopes to top that amount.
For just $2, anyone can have the privilege of displaying
a mitten on the wall. Pavlica encourages departments to contact
her about selling the mittens and posting them up in a common
area. She also recognizes the benefits of a little friendly
competition. "I wish to once again challenge every department
on campus to raise a minimum of $100 for the McMaster United
Way campaign," she says. "I know my own department,
Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, will well exceed
that amount by at least double."
The gloves - or should I say mittens - have been thrown
down. It is now up to everyone on campus to snatch up those
mittens in support of the United Way's important and charitable
For more information or to order mittens for your department,
contact Milica Pavlica at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Posted Oct 21 2005)
McMaster professor and Canada Research Chair in Cognitive
Neuroscience, was among a group of dedicated educators
honoured by the Hamilton Spectator Wednesday.
Sekuler was a winner of The Hamilton Spectator Publisher's
Award for Educators, for helping spearhead public-private
skills development partnerships.
(The Hamilton Spectator, Oct. 20, 2005) [ Full
Brain Workshop [more]
USING IMAGING METHODS TO STUDY
THE PROCESSING OF MUSIC IN THE BRAIN
Friday November 18, 2005
Council Chambers, Gilmour Hall, Rm 111
I did on my summer vacation
(Posted Aug 23 2005)
When most people think of vacation,
they think R&R - rest and relaxation. However,
Ron Racine, chair of the psychology, neuroscience
and behaviour department, and his wife Yvonne are
always on the lookout for challenging trips. The
Racines' vacations usually involve either biking
or hiking, although they have also done canoe, kayak,
horse, and camel trips. This summer, fueled by Guinness
and assorted English ales, this adventurous pair
hiked across England.
(Posted Aug 23 2005)
Chimpanzees may not have literature and ballet, but some researchers suspect
that our close primate kin do have cultural traditions for behaviors such
as tool use and grooming. Now a study provides the strongest evidence yet
that chimps can learn traditions of tool use by observation. The authors
say their work also reveals another trait previously seen only in humans:
a tendency to conform to community standards.
Some chimp culture skeptics have been convinced, saying
the study provides strong evidence that chimps have traditions
they learn by observation. "I've been looking for this for
10 years," says Bennett Galef an animal behaviorist at McMaster
University. Galef and others are less compelled by the claims
regarding the chimps' conformist tendencies, however.
(Science Now, Aug. 22, 2005)
in a selfish world
July 15 2005)
Billions of people tuned into recent Live 8 concert broadcasts,
some just for the music, others to support the altruistic
cause spearheaded by former Boomtown Rat, Sir Bob
Geldof. In today's rat-race climate, what makes some of us
look out for each other, while others look out for themselves?
According to evolutionary theory, natural selection has designed individuals
to behave selfishishly; selfish individuals are likely to end up with more
resources and therefore more offspring. But many species (including humans,
some rock musicians, politicians, and everyday citizens among them) do co-operate.
Traditionally, scientists have explained the evolution of
co-operation using the idea of kin selection. Help to relatives (who share
your genes) makes sense if it means your relative will have more children
who will carry your genes into the next generation. Therefore, relatives
are expected to help more. However, in a study published today in the Proceedings
of the Royal Society, Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour researchers,
Sigal Balshine and Kelly Stiver, show that in certain situations the reverse
is true: unrelated individuals help more.
[ More ]
(Posted June 28 2005)
An international team of researchers believe bottlenose dolphins wear sea
sponges on their snouts while foraging for small fish, crustaceans and other
food along channels in the sea floor because it protects them against sharp
coral and stinging critters such as stonefish.
But Bennett Galef, an animal behaviorist and Professor in
the Psychology Department at McMaster University, said the
researchers had not proved that the dolphins use the sponges
"They have no idea how this behavior develops or really
what it is used for," Galef said. "If you don't
know that, then you're really just guessing."
The researchers said their conclusions are based on years
of observing the dolphins and a detailed genetic analysis
that clearly ruled out other explanations.
(The Washington Post, June 27, 2005)
Full Story ]
(Posted June 28 2005)
What's the toughest audience a stand-up comedian could possibly
face? One conjures up thoughts of biker bars, psychiatric
wards and maximum-security prisons, but nothing, perhaps,
is so terrifying as telling jokes to a room full of academics
who study humour.
The National Post recently described the goings on in one
such room where the International Society for Humor Studies
brought together academics from more than 20 countries. The
crowd contained about 150 scholars, from twentysomething
graduate students to eminence grise professors and psychiatrists
from as far away as Hong Kong, New Zealand and India. And
despite the occasionally esoteric nature of their research,
they dredged up some interesting findings.
McMaster Psychology Graduate student, Eric Bressler's work
was highlighted in the article. He has discovered that a
sense of humour may mean different things to men and women
when choosing romantic partners, perhaps because it displays
cognitive ability and allows women to potentially "maximize
the quality" of their offspring.
Treasurywala & Ryan
Psychology student Katayun ('Kat') Treasurywala had good
reason to celebrate at the recent Science convocation. Not
only was she among the 63 Psychology students graduating
this year, she was named the Valedictorian for Science, and
won the Abe Black Memorial prize and the Burke Memorial Ring.
Our own Ryan
Wolek also took the Abe H. Black award.
The Abe Black prize, named in memory of former Psychology professor Abe H.
Black, is awarded to the 3 graduates with the highest cumulative averages
in each of Psychology's honours programs (B.A. in Psychology, B.Sc. in Psychology,
B.Sc. in Biology and Psychology). The Burke Memorial Ring is awarded in memory
of Dean C. E. Burke, to a "graduate of a B.Sc. programme who is named
to the Dean's Honour List and who has made the most outstanding contribution
to undergraduate activities." Kat gave an inspiring speech to her classmates
at the convocation ceremony, and we congratulate her and all the other graduates.
of the New Investigator Award
(Posted June 10 2005)
Psychology Ph.D. student, Danny Krupp, won the New
Investigator award for his paper "A cue of kinship affects
cooperation in a 'tragedy of the commons'" at the 17th
annual international meeting of the Human Behavior & Evolution
Society in Austin, Texas last weekend. Danny joins
a long list of McMaster winners of this award: His
paper was co-authored with Psychology grad-alum Lisa
Debruine (winner of the same competition in 2002) and
Psychology Ph.D. student Pat Barclay (winner of the
same competition in 2003) -- all of the students worked under the
supervision of Psychology Professors Martin Daly and Margo
Another McMaster alum, Nick Pound, won the same award in
2000 -- making the Daly/Wilson lab 4 for 6 in recent competitions.
Congratulations to Danny and all the other past and
future McMaster Psychology winners!
psychology researcher wins Governor General's Silver Academic
Benoit, honours linguistics, and an NSERC Undergraduate Student
Research Award winner in Psychology is one of 4 McMaster recipients
of the 2005 Governor General's Silver Academic Medal for each receiving
a grade point average of 11.9.
(Posted June 8 2005)
Lord Dufferin, Canada's third Governor General after Confederation, created the
academic medals in 1873 to encourage academic excellence across the nation. Over
the years, they have become the most prestigious award that students in Canadian
schools can receive.
During her time at McMaster, Alaina Benoit has received four In-Course Awards
and the Junior League of Hamilton-Burlington, Inc. Community Contribution Award
for service to the community-at-large. Benoit also earned two Dr. Harry Lyman
Hooker Scholarships for overall academic excellence and the Mabel Stoakley Scholarship
for outstanding female academic achievement and leadership. This summer, Alaina
continues her work in the Cognitive Science Laboratory in the Department of Psychology
under the supervision of Psychology Professor Karin Humphreys, studying errors
in speech production and what they can tell us about the language production
system in the human mind.
Congratulations to Alaina!
(Posted June 6 2005)
Phillips-Silver and Laurel Trainor test a baby's memory for sounds.
Photo credit: Chantall Van Raay)
Music makes us move to the rhythm. But just
how are music and movement related? McMaster Psychology researchers
have found that how we move also shapes what we hear, even
"The simultaneous experience of listening and moving to a rhythm wires the brain
so that different senses work together," says Psychology Professor Laurel Trainor. "Our
interpretation of sound is affected not only by our auditory system but by input
from our other senses as well."
Trainor and her Ph.D. student Jessica Phillips-Silver published their work
in the June 3 issue of Science. ("Feeling the Beat: Movement Influences
Infant Rhythm Perception", 308, 1430 (in Brevia)).
"Across all cultures, caregivers naturally provide a rich rhythmic experience
for their infants by rocking and bouncing them while singing," says Phillips-Silver. "For
the first time, we are able to show that this experience not only affects their
emotional state, but also influences infants' sensory development."
Phillips-Silver and Trainors findings have been discussed in media reports
around the world, including the the Toronto Star, the National Post, the Daily
Telegraph (UK), the New York Times, and USA Today.
about the aging brain
(Posted May 31 2005)
McMaster Psychology research on vision and aging was highlighted in the May
28 Focus section of the Globe & Mail. The story describes the work
of Psychology Professors and Canada Research Chairs Allison Sekuler and Patrick
Bennett, their students, and collaborators, highlighting the way their research
has changed the way we think about the aging brain.
"In an age obsessed with youth, Allison Sekuler stands apart. When she recently
turned 40, she didn't have any reservations about getting older. In fact, she
looked forward to it. She still does. For her, age is something to savour.
... her research on the aging brain is transforming our understanding of what
it means to grow old. 'It creates whole new ways of thinking about aging,'
Prof. Sekuler says. '...You can teach older brains new tricks...In some cases,
the older brain can actually rewire itself.' "
(Posted May 19 2005)
President Peter George recognized the outstanding contributions of two Psychology
staff members with the President's Awards for Outstanding Service on May 18.
Ann Hollingshead received commendation for going above and beyond her position
as Psychology's undergraduate advisor and research co-ordinator. The citation
reads: "Hollingshead has become the linchpin in an array of services offered
to psychology students. She is the expert that students, staff, and faculty
alike come to for advice and direction regarding the undergraduate activities
and curriculum. The students love her; she is knowledgeable, kind, and willing
to take extra steps to help them." Ann's is the third consecutive Inidividual
Award for Outstanding Service for Department staff members. Milica Pavlica,
Psychology's Departmental Administrator, received the award in 2004; and Wendy
Selbie, Psychology's Infotech Advisor/Coordinator received the award in 2003.
Milica Pavlica also was honoured as part of a group special achievement award
for her role as co-founder and selfless volunteer for the Children's Christmas
Party. The citation reads: "One could not overestimate the important role the
Children's Christmas Party plays in creating a strong sense of community among
McMaster University's faculty members, employees, retirees, and their families.
... The logistics of organizing such a large event takes place within a spirit
of cooperation and collegiality that serves as a model for others."
Congratulations to Milica, Ann, and all the other winners!
Full Story - link to: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/story.cfm?id=2971
one has a great deal to put into it, a day has a hundred
pockets." -- Nietzsche
Psychology PhD candidate Romina Coppa was featured in a Hamilton Spectator story
about the pockets of Hamilton. "While my rats are in their experimental running
chamber, those more docile ones that have completed the task for the day sometimes
like to sit inside my lab coat pocket. They are nocturnal so they enjoy the
dark, and seem to enjoy coiling themselves up into the more restricted area.
They sleep there very happily."
Click HERE for
the full story.
(Posted May 17 2005)
McMaster psychologist Terri Lewis has appeared in a number of publications
following the recent release of her study, including Forbes. Lewis'
study shows that a child's inability to hit a slow-moving ball has a scientific
explanation: Children cannot hit slow balls because their brains are not wired
to handle slow motion. Her study will be published in the July edition of Vision
(appeared in the Hamilton Spectator, the Globe & Mail,
(Posted May 10
to Karin Humphreys, Ann Hollingshead and Judy Shedden for their large
crew of volunteers, who made Psychology's contribution to May@Mac a
huge success on Saturday. Despite the construction barrier in front of
the building they attracted excellent crowds to the Psych lobby displays and
events, as well as hosted tables at MUSC and MDCL, showed off our Mobile Lab,
and presented Psych demos to crowds at the outdoor tents. It was an excellent
We greatly appreciate all the hours that went into planning and executing this
very important event.
Well Done !!!!!
Slow balls take the
swing out of young ball players
(Posted May 5 2005)
Exasperated parents practicing throw-and-connect skills with
their young children will be relieved to know that their child's
inability to hit a slow-moving ball has a scientific explanation:
Children cannot hit slow balls because their brains are not wired
to handle slow motion.
Full story: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/story.cfm?id=2931
(Posted Apr 28 2005)
Tracy Vaillancourt, Jessie Miller
Tracy Vaillancourt, assistant professor of psychology at McMaster University,
and her graduate student/Ph.D candidate Jessie Miller were guest speakers Thursday,
April 28, at the Hamilton Spectator's live broadcast of "Open Forum".
This month's featured discussion was on Girls and Bullying. Vaillancourt and
Miller fielded questions from a full audience as well as viewers at home who
called and e-mailed in to the show. Leslie Cunningham, a social worker with the
Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, was also featured. Parents, concerned
teachers as well as young girls filled the audience voicing concerns and asking
questions about what to do if you are bullied and how to handle the unique and
covert maniupulations characteristic of girls bullying/relational aggression.
(Posted Apr 28 2005)
Research by McMaster psychology doctoral candidates Lisa Betts and Christopher
Taylor and psychology Professors Patrick Bennett and Allison Sekuler is featured
in the May issue of Discover Magazine.
To learn about changes in the older brain, the researchers tested young college
students against people in their sixties and seventies on how quickly they
noticed the sideways movement of vertical bars on a computer screen. Students
do terribly, says Betts. They leave in frustration, but "the older observers
come out and say, 'That was easy.'"
(Discover Magazine, May 2005)
A Celebration of Research
Psychology held it's
first annual Undergraduate Thesis Conference on Wednesday, April 20.
Fifteen students presented their research findings in a poster session
attended by students, faculty and staff. The Conference was a celebration
of the hard work all of our students put into their thesis projects
over the past year. The topics covered the full range of research in
Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour: from communication difficulties
in individuals with autism spectrum disorder, to infants' ability to
encode and remember of music, to the factors that govern the attentional
capture, to electrophysiological studies of vision. Congratulations
to all our our thesis students for a job well done, and we wish you
the best in your future endeavors in science and in life!
The Albert Lager Event Series
(Posted Apr 19 2005)
“Myth (and Science) of the Musical Mind” with
Dr. Larry E. Roberts happens Apr. 21
the Musical Mind
with Dr. Larry Roberts
(Posted Apr 19 2005)
the “Mozart Effect” a myth? Did your music lessons make you smarter?
We know that listening to music can affect our mood and our emotions, but can
it affect our brain? Dr. Larry Roberts and his colleagues at McMaster’s
Human Neural Plasticity Lab have explored this question by studying the brains
of musicians from Boris Brott’s National Academy Orchestra and young Suzuki
violin students. Their research considered how the brain learns to hear music,
how music changes brain response and how music lessons impact the developing
brain. Come and hear Dr. Roberts discuss the findings of his research and discover
whether you can increase your brain power by listening to or studying Mozart
and other classical music, or even jazz and popular music.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Gilmour Hall, Council Chambers, Room 111
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
$5.00 per person (includes light refreshments)
warm weather brings...
(Posted Apr 19, 2005)
For many critters big and small, the lengthening hours of daylight and
the increasing temperatures are the cues that trigger physiological changes
that prompt the need to breed.
"This is probably the peak of the mating season," said Sigal Balshine, also a
McMaster biologist. "In a few weeks we'll see a shift.
--The Hamilton Spectator
(for the Full Story see http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/mac_inthenews_single.cfm?id=1831)
The name may change, but excellence
remains the same!
(Posted Apr 19, 2005)
McMaster Senate approved a name change for our Department. Effective July 1,
2005, we will be the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. The
change more appropriately reflects the nature of teaching and research in our
department. "McMaster has great strength in behaviour and neuroscience research," says
Ron Racine, Department Chair. "This name change will provide students and the
community-at-large with a better idea of who we are."
GSA Awards Night
(Posted Mar 11 2005)
GRADUATE EXCELLENCE RECOGNIZED
March 15, 2005: Two Psychology graduate students were singled out for their
outstanding contributions in this evening's ceremonies at the 10th Annual Graduate
Students Recognition Day. Graeme
Moffat received the Therese Quigley Award for Graduate Student Leadership
in Athletics. Jessica Phillips-Silver was
Science's recipient of the Dean's Award for Excellence in Communicating Graduate
Research, and she also was selected to represent all the winners in making
an oral presentation about her research at the ceremony. Congratulations to
Graeme, Jessica and all the other winners and nominees.
Jessica Phillips-Silver pictured with Acting Dean of Graduate
(posted Mar 11 2005)
March 11, 2005: Foreign species, such as zebra mussles and carp, are invading
the Great Lakes and changing the ecology of this vital ecosystem. A study from Psychology
Assistant Professor Sigal Balshine, published in the March issue of
the Journal of Great Lakes Research, suggests that for the round goby, a recently
introduced fish species, their ability to wrest territory from native fish
plays a key role in their dominance of the Great Lakes. Scientists believe
that gobies have contributed to or caused the extinction of some native species
in Lake Erie, the first lake to be invaded. "Obviously people are concerned
about the effects on native species in the other lakes that gobies have now
spread to," says Balshine.
See the full story in the Daily News: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/story.cfm?id=3207
Clinical Psychology Information
(Posted Mar 10 2005)
Date: March 29, 2005
Time: 9:00 to 10:00 pm
Location: MDCL 1305
Speakers: Dr. Alison Niccols (child clinical psychology)
Katherine Owens (Ph.D. candidate; adult clinical psychology) and Dr. Tracy
Vaillancourt (child/school psychology)
Description: Drs. Niccols Owens and Vaillancourt will describe
what clinical psychologists do and provide helpful hints for students applying
to graduate school in clinical/applied/school psychology.
(Posted Mar 04 2005)
at today's announcement, from left are, Tony Valeri, liberal MP for
Stoney Creek; Byron Spencer, economics professor; Tracy Vaillancourt,
assistant professor of psychology; David Emerson, federal Minister
of Industry; Janet Halliwell, executive vice-president of Social Sciences
and Humanities Research Council; and Peter George, McMaster President.
Photo credit: Chantall Van Raay
March 3, 2005: Tracy Vaillancourt,
assistant professor in Psychology, will receive $1 million
to find solutions to the bullying epidemic. The funding announcement was made today at McMaster University by
David Emerson, ministry of industry, and Tony Valeri, leader of the government
in the House of Commons. Hamilton Mayor Larry Dianni and SSHRC Executive Vice
President Janet Halliwell were also in attendance.
Prof. Vaillancourt heads team
of university-based researchers and community partners who
will focus on bringing the city of Hamilton together as a
community to combat bullying. Prof. Vaillancourt estimates
that 10% of children are regularly victimized by their peers—many
to the point where they suffer severe psychological and social
problems, including depression and poor academic performance.
Funding for the project comes from SSHRC's Community-University
Research Alliance program.
“Professor Vaillancourt’s research will ultimately
help us to protect our children and build stronger communities, both of which
are essential for achieving a higher quality of life and economic prosperity,” said
Minister Valeri. “I am proud to see a community-based approach being applied
here in Hamilton.”
Funding for another project headed by McMaster Economist Byron Spencer
investigating the effects of aging on the nation's economy also was announced
at the ceremony. "These projects define who we are – a community-based
research university with a national reputation for excellence," said Mamdouh
Shoukri, McMaster's Vice President of Research and International Affairs.
McMaster's Daily News (http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/story.cfm?id=3191)
Mother's diaries yields
clues for early detection of autism.
(Posted Feb 11 2005)
The origins of autism are a mystery. But new research by Psychology's Assistant
Professor Melissa Rutherford may be a critical step in solving that mystery.
Prof. Rutherford analyzed the detailed diaries kept by a mother with twins,
only one of which was later diagnosed with autism. As is commonly the case,
the twin with autism was not diagnosed until age three and a half. "There's
not a reliable diagnosis before age two," Prof. Rutherford says. "But I believe
autism is there earlier." She reports, in the journal Neurocase, that behavioural
markers of autism could be seen as early as one year of age. The possibility
of detecting autism at such an early age is remarkable. Children with autism
need early treatment, she says, or they risk drifting further and further from
Prof. Rutherford's research has garnered national media attention. See the
full story in the National Post.
A treasure chest of data, buried in
the sands of bureaucracy.
(Posted Feb 10 2005)
The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth is a national treasure,
holding reams of information relevant to studies of child development. But Tracy
Vaillancourt, Assistant Professor of Psychology at McMaster, says the NLSCY is
more like "the sunken Titanic. It's great that it's there, and we can brag about
it, but we can't pull anything out of it...." Today's Globe & Mail reports
that researchers around Canada, including Prof. Vaillancourt, have been stalled
in their efforts to use the enormous database.
For the complete story see: globeandmailstory.htm
Laughter and Love
(Posted Feb 9 2005)
Is a good sense of humour as important in relationships as people think? Psychology
graduate student Eric Bressler has
been investigating that topic as part of his Ph.D. research, and says the answer
depends on who laughs last. The results were discussed in a recent issue of
the Journal Times:
"The idea," Bressler wrote in an e-mail from Hamilton, "was
that if someone says they value their partner's `sense of humor,' but then
say that it's really only their partner's appreciation of their own humor that
is important, then you have some idea of how that person defines the term `sense
of humor.' "We were interested in looking at whether men and women use
the term `sense of humor' in different ways, at least with respect to relationship
And apparently they do.... Bressler's survey showed that "Even though
being around funny people and having them appreciate your own humor are both
rewarding experiences, women will ultimately prefer humor producers as relationship
partners, while men will prefer appreciators of their own humor." In other
words, while both sexes value a "sense of humor" in their dates,
women tend to define this as a partner's ability to make them laugh, while
men define it as a partner's capacity to laugh at their jokes.
For the full story see: http://www.journaltimes.com/articles/2005/02/07/local/iq_3222940.txt
Good news for aging
(Posted Feb 9 2005)
The long-held belief that older people always perform slower and worse than
younger people has been proven wrong. In a study published in Neuron ,
psychologists from McMaster University discovered that the aging process actually
improves certain abilities: Older people appear to be better and faster at
grasping the big picture than their younger counterparts. The study, conducted
by Psychology Ph.D. students Lisa
Betts and Christopher
Taylor and Profs. Allison
Sekuler and Patrick Bennett, has received worldwide media attention,
including mention in the Daily Telegraph, The Globe & Mail, The National
Post, and CBSNews.com.
"The results are exciting not only because they show an odd case in
which older people have better vision than younger people, but also because
it may tell us something about how aging affects the way signals are processed
in the brain," says Patrick Bennett, a senior author, and Canada Research
Chair at McMaster.
For the full story, see: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/story.cfm?id=3136
Dr. Jeff Galef
(Posted Jan 24, 2005)
Saturday, January 22, 2005: The Globe & Mail Focus section focused squarely
on the life and work of Bennett (Jeff) Galef, emeritus Professor of Psychology
at McMaster University. The piece explored Prof. Galef's work in the
area of evolutionary psychology and animal behaviour, and highlighted
his role as a founder of the field of animal social-learning science." Professor
Kevin Laland, a psychologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland
says of Prof. Galef, "Jeff is kind of like the father figure to the field.
He made people think of this as an important topic, and he introduced
experimental rigour into a field which ahd previously been quite wishy-washy." Although
Prof. Galef is officially retired, he remains as active in research as
ever, aiming to inspire others to continue the work in animal social-learning,
and constantly challenging other researchers to go the next step. "I
want us to know things, the way we know hydrogen and oxygen make water.
If this is ever going to be a real science, what we mean by knowing things
has to be much more solid than it is today....
If the intellectual pressue is there, then the means for answering these
questions may be found," he says.
Dr. Daphne Maurer
(Posted Dec 16, 2004)
December 15, 2004: WHAT COLOUR IS THAT SOUND?? Psychology Professor Daphne
Maurer has been incredibly busy with the media recently as she received world-wide
attention for her groundbreaking research on synesthesia.
"Imagine being able to see or taste sounds, as well as hearing them. Sound
like science fiction? For some people. it's reality. This blending of the senses
occurs in a rare condition called 'synesthesia.' In this condition, a stimulus,
such as sound, creates a reaction in another sense, as well as the expected sense.
Now, professor Daphne Maurer of McMaster University's department of psychology
has found that at one time we all lived in a world in which sights had sounds
and feelings had taste."
The story was featured in print, radio and television around the world (including
the Science Daily news, CH TV, the Australian Broadcasting Company, and CBC International).
Look for additional stories related to the work to appear in the Chinese Daily
Herald and in Today's Parent.
For the fully story, see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123153855.htm
Radio Canada International: http://www.rcinet.ca/rci/en/emissions/1441.shtml
Dr. Laurel Trainor
(Posted Dec 16, 2004)
Dec. 12, 2004: Psychology Prof. Laurel Trainor was featured
in a story on inter-species differences in music perception in the New
Kerela News (India).
"If you want to look at the evolution of music it's important to do these
types of studies," said Laurel Trainor, a neuroscientist at McMaster. She
added that this research supports the idea that humans have a special preference
for consonance, one of the most basic structural elements of music. This could
account for the fact that as far as we know, only humans produce songs simply
For full story, see: http://athens-olympics-2004.newkerala.com/?action=fullnews&id=47375
Dr. Allison Sekuler
(Posted Nov 15, 2004)
McMaster's Allison Sekuler was named one of Canada's scientific "Leaders
of Tomorrow." Professor Sekuler was one of 15 young scientists from around
Canada honoured at a symposium in Ottawa on November 2, sponsored jointly by
the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering (PAGSE) and NSERC. The "Young
Leaders" met with representatives of major granting agencies and the media,
as well as with the National Science Advisor and Members of Parliament to share
their views on the future of science in Canada.
Prof. Sekuler is a Professor of Psychology and Canada Research
Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience. She was selected for her research showing
how the human brain processes visual information, and how that processing changes
as a function of aging. She also has been active in the promotion of science
for the general public.
Dr. Daphne Maurer
of the Department of Psychology
(Posted Nov 15, 2004)
Psychology Professor Daphne Maurer gave the invited keynote address at the
annual meeting of the American Synesthesia Association last week. The meeting,
which took place November 5-7 at the University of California, Berkeley,
featured a range of talks about a rare condition called "synesthesia." In
this condition, a stimulus induces a percept in another modality as well
as the expected percept -- so, for example, people can actually see or
taste sounds, as well as hearing them. Although synesthesia is thought
to occur in only 1% of all adults, Prof. Maurer discussed evidence that
all infants are synesthetic. She suggests that with development, the connections
underlying synesthesia are pruned or inhibited in most individuals, although
remnants of the early synesthesia can be demonstrated in the lab even in non-synesthetic
For more information see:
Prof. Maurer's Visual Development Lab: http://psych.mcmaster.ca/maurerlab/
American Synesthesia Association: http://www.synesthesia.info/
Dr. Jeff Galef
of the Department of Psychology
(Posted Oct 14, 2004)
Anyone who has visited the Psychology Building knows it is filled not just
with beautiful minds, but with beautiful art as well. That art was the brainchild
of our own Professor Bennett (Jeff) Galef, who is as serious and knowledgeable
about art as he is about science. Dr. Galef supports art outside the Psychology
department as well, serving on the Board of Directors of the McMaster Museum
of Art . He was recently interviewed at the Museum by Cable 14 while viewing
a new exhibit by Yechel Gagnon, and he spoke passionately and vividly about
Mr. Gagnon's work. The "monumental mindscapes" of Yechel Gagnon will
be on display at the Museum until November 28.
For more details, see http://www.mcmaster.ca/museum/
BY MENTORING A NEW GENERATION OF RESEARCHERS
(Posted Oct 12, 2004)
Daphne Maurer still remembers the exhilaration
she experienced while studying child development in the honours
program at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Students were
expected to pursue their questions, do as much research as
possible, write up papers and lead class discussions. “It
allowed you to focus on learning,”says the McMaster
University professor,who has developed an expertise in visual
development. Today, Maurer takes a similar approach with
her graduate students, helping them to develop their knowledge
about the healthy and optimal growth of children. [more]
“She has a nice balance between
giving critical feedback and letting me try out my ideas”
(Posted: Sept. 24, 2004)
We know music has power over us, but how much? Does it really offer an academic
edge? Is it a language -- like math -- which helps us solve tricky equations?
Music can change your mood -- but what about our brains? This is one of the
central questions a McMaster University research team has been working away
at inside the confines of the Human Neural Plasticity Lab. Larry Roberts alongside
colleagues Antoine Shahin, Laurel Trainor, Daniel Bosnyak and several graduate
students are trying to determine how the brain changes as a result of real-world
experiences like music lessons. [more]
Far from opposites attracting,
people tend to choose friends who look like them, research
(Posted: Sept. 13, 2004)
However, psychologist Dr Lisa DeBruine found a
facial resemblance is not a turn-on when we are looking for a
partner. She believes we may have evolved to prefer the company
of people who remind us of family - but have a biological block
to prevent incest. The study is published in the Journal of the
Royal Society. The researchers showed volunteers male and female
faces that had been computer-manipulated to produce a 'family
resemblance'. Men liked other men's faces that resembled their
own and women liked other women's faces that resembled their
own. However, a facial resemblance did not influence attraction
to opposite-sex faces.
Dr DeBruine, of McMaster University, Canada, said
previous research had shown that people were more likely to trust
Psychology PhD Wins Brain Star Award
(Posted: May 20, 2004)
LeGrand, a recent graduate of McMaster Psychology’s PhD program,
received the prestigious Brain Star Award for his work on the development
of face processing. The research, which was published in Nature
Neuroscience, suggests that visual input to the right hemisphere
of a baby’s brain during the first few weeks of life is critical
for the development of normal face processing skills. "The
two halves of the brain are not created equal as only the right
hemisphere appears able to develop expertise in processing faces,"
said Dr. LeGrand’s PhD supervisor, McMaster Professor Daphne
Maurer. "We know from this study that early visual input to
the right hemisphere is required for this skill to develop correctly."
The work received extensive media coverage earlier this year within
Canada and internationally.
The Brain Star Award recognizes the contributions of graduate students
and other trainees to neuroscience research within Canada. This
is McMaster Psychology’s third Brain Star Award; the previous
awards went to Dave Ellemberg, another former PhD student from Professor
Maurer’s lab, for his work on the effect of early visual deprivation
from cataracts on spatial and temporal vision; and to Assistant
Professor David Shore for his work on learning in virtual mazes.
The Brain Star Award is sponsored by the Institute for Neuroscience,
Mental Health and Addiction of the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research. The award signifies the high quality and potential impact
of the research, and includes a $1,000 honorarium and a profile
of the recipient’s research on the CIHR website.
For more information about Dr. LeGrand’s
research and other work in Prof. Maurer’s lab: http://sciencenews.org/20031122/bob9.asp
For more information about the Brain Star Award:
Graduate Student Service Award Winner
(Posted: May 19,2004)
Congratulations to Jenny Campos, who has won:
GSA Honour Society (A Distinguished Service Award)
for her outstanding service at McMaster.
The award recognizes the involvement of graduate students who have
contributed significantly to the broader community while excelling
in their graduate program. Awards were presented at the 9th Annual
Graduate Students Recognition Day Dinner and Awards Program on May
See this website for a list of winners:
Congratulations Jenny, you are a credit to our department.
McMaster University Faculty Association
recognizes outstanding service
(Posted: May 17, 2004)
Dr. Lorraine Allan
Allan has served for multiple terms on the Senate and Board of Governors
and was chair of the Senate Committee on Appointments, as well as
a member of numerous selection committees for deans, provosts and
presidents. The two-time president of MUFA is an expert on the tenure
and promotion document, having contributed to its continual revision
since its inception.
Allan is an editor of a national journal in psychology
and past president of the Canadian Society for Brain Behaviour and
Cognitive Science. Allan, who has been chair of the NSERC Psychology
Grants Committee, has been continually funded by NSERC since its
inception. Recently she was appointed McMaster’s official
NSERC representative ... read more from the link below
Most people think that
newborn babies are essentially blind, seeing nothing more than
vague shadows of objects. Are they correct? Professor Terri Lewis
will talk about what babies can see and how we figure that out,
in her upcoming public lecture, "First Sight: What Babies
See." Prof. Lewis will discuss the latest work from McMaster
Psychology's Infant Vision Lab as part of the Science in the City
lecture series (co-sponsored by McMaster University and the Hamilton
Tuesday, April 13, 2004 in the Hamilton Spectator Auditorium.
Doors open @ 6:30 pm;
Lecture begins at 7:00 pm.
To reserve your seat e-mail email@example.com
This is a FREE PUBLIC LECTURE. Everyone is welcome to attend!
McMaster Psychologists were front and centre
in the kick-off to the Globe & Mail's multi-part series on
Development, Saturday, March 27. One story focused on research
from Prof. Laurel Trainor's Auditory Development Lab using behavioural
and EEG techniques to understand how children learn language.
Another story, highlighted the work of Prof. Daphne Maurer and
her colleagues from the Infant Vision Lab, examining how attractiveness
judgements change across the lifespan.
For the complete stories, see the Globe & Mail web site:
"A computer-like brain" (How kids learn language):
"Ooh, baby! Who kids find cute" (Development of attractiveness
Siegel's research was featured in the latest issue of the
APA Monitor in a story titled, "Pavlovian psychopharmacology."
The article discusses the surprising findings and implications
of an article he recently co-authored in the journal Experimental
and Clinical Psychopharmacology. This research suggests that,
in response to internal cues, our bodies can learn to anticipate
and even counteract some of the physiological effects of drugs.
See "PDF" for the full story.
Facing the facts about recognizing faces
Notice anything different about these two pictures? It’s
the same person, with one small difference. One
image has been altered, but most people won’t see how until
they’re viewed upright.
This is one example of the so-called the “inversion effect”
– it’s harder for the brain to process upside-down
objects than upright objects, and the inversion effect is especially
strong for the perception of faces.
“For most people, it’s easy to recognize a range
of faces, even under various lighting conditions and from different
views. But when those faces are turned upside-down, we experience
problems,” says Allison Sekuler, professor of psychology
and Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at McMaster
Sekuler says human faces consist of two eyes, a nose, and a mouth,
organized in just about the same way for every face. For decades,
people thought the face inversion effect meant that the brain
uses the information in faces in very different ways to recognize
upright and upside-down faces.
Traditionally, recognition of upright faces was thought to hinge
on the organization of features across the whole face, whereas
recognition of upside-down faces relied much more on identifying
Sekuler and her team set out to test that idea directly. Their
results, which will appear in the journal Current Biology on Tuesday,
provide an entirely new picture of what goes on when our brains
picture faces. To obtain a clear view of how the brain processes
information about faces, the researchers actually added “visual
noise” (resembling snow on a de-tuned television) to face
images. By keeping track of how that “noise” affected
perception, the researchers were able to tell what parts of the
faces were most important for recognition. Surprisingly, all observers
relied mostly on the region around the eyes and eyebrows, regardless
of whether the faces were upright or upside-down.
“The devil is in the details,” says Sekuler. “Although
most of the relevant information for recognizing our faces was
right around the eyes, people seem much more efficient at picking
up that information in just the right way when the face is right
side-up.” These results fly in the face of previous theories
of face recognition. Instead, the researchers suggest that the
face inversion effect may be an example of the old saying, “practice
makes perfect” – people simply have a lot more experience
recognizing upright faces, and that makes them better.
According to this view, the inversion effect is a fascinating
example of how the human brain processes information, and how
our brains can be trained to process difficult tasks more efficiently.
In a related study, to be published in April in the journal Cognitive
Science, Sekuler and her research team applied similar “noise”
obstructions to faces and unfamiliar textures to determine how
people’s recognition skills improved with learning. With
both types of patterns, everyone who was tested improved. For
faces, people became more efficient at picking out the relevant
information around the eyes and eyebrows. For textures, different
individuals adopted different strategies for improvement. Although
everyone became more efficient at picking out the right details,
the locations of those details differed dramatically (some people
relied more on information in a top corner, whereas others relied
on information in the middle or bottom).
“In working with textures, we found that people learned
to recognize them in different ways, even though they all ended
up performing the task equally well,” says Sekuler. “For
the first time, we were able to get a direct view of what strategies
the brain used to improve recognition. Understanding the unconscious
learning strategies people use, and how those strategies vary
across individuals, will help us to establish more effective training
Sekuler hopes that by identifying how the brain normally processes
this kind of information, she and her group will be able to develop
training programs for people who have impaired facial recognition
skills, such as autistic individuals and some stroke victims.
“The first step toward improving performance in impaired
populations is to understand how the typical brain processes information,”
she says. “With this work, we’ve made a big leap toward
Sekuler’s research team includes Patrick Bennett, professor
of psychology and Canada Research Chair in Vision Science, and
Carl Gaspar, graduate student, from McMaster University, and Jason
Gold assistant professor of psychology from Indiana University.
The work was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada and the Canada Research Chairs.
McMaster psychology professor Tracy
will help launch a Community Coalition on Prevention & Intervention
of Bullying Among Children and Youth in Hamilton Feb. 23. Vaillancourt
is a member of the coalition, believed to be one of the largest
community groups of its kind. The coalition is focused on raising
awareness and in working collaboratively on a community-wide initiative
to address the issue of bullying in the City of Hamilton. The launch
will take place at the Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club at 10 a.m.
Psychology hosted McMaster
University's first annual Brain Bee
on February 17, 2004. Nine students from high schools in Hamilton,
Burlington and Oakville faced off in a show of knowledge about
neuroscience and the brain. Da Liu, a grade 12 student from Westmount
Secondary School, won first place in the contest, and will represent
Hamilton at the International Brain Bee held in Baltimore, Maryland
in March. Second place went to Daniel Matan, of Cardinal Newman
Catholic Secondary School, and third place to Laura Rupar of Lord
Elgin High School. The event was featured in the Hamilton Spectator
and CHML Radio.
Judy Shedden, Associate Professor of Psychology, spearheaded
McMaster's entry into the event, which is modelled after a spelling-bee
(except that students' knowledge of neuroscience is tested, rather
than their knowledge of spelling). Our thanks to Professor Shedden,
the Brain Bee Volunteers, and all the teachers and students who
made the event a success. The Brain Bee will be an annual event,
and interested participants should visit the Brain Bee website for
R elated Links:
Calling all high school students!
The First Annual McMaster Brain Bee
1:00 PM, February 17, 2004
Hosted by the Department of Psychology
Brain Bee web page:
The Brain Bee is a fun competition fashioned after a spelling bee.
In a question/answer elimination round format, students answer questions
about the brain (all questions come from a Brain Facts primer).
Our afternoon will begin with the first few rounds of questions.
A refreshment break will follow, during which psychology graduate
and undergraduate students will talk with the high school students
about their research. Then we will return to the competition with
more rounds of questions, leading to the final elimination rounds
that will leave one person standing.
The first place winner will receive an all-expense paid trip to
Baltimore to compete in the International Brain Bee competition
at the University of Maryland on March 19 and 20, 2004, and a traveling
trophy plaque engraved with their name and the name of their school,
to be displayed in their school's trophy case for a year. Our graduate
students will help the winner prepare for the international competition.
There will also be prizes for the 2nd and 3rd place winners, and
every contestant will receive a certificate of participation. It
is a great event to put on their resume.
At the University of Maryland in Baltimore, about 40 top high school
winners of local Brain Bee competitions across the US and Canada
will compete in the International Brain Bee. The winner will receive
an all-expense paid trip for two people to the Annual Society for
Neurosciences conference (in San Diego), a US$3,000 scholarship,
and a summer internship to work in the laboratory of a famous neuroscientist!
Canada will be sending only two representatives because McMaster
and Toronto are the only universities in Canada hosting local Brain
Bees. The McMaster winner and the U of Toronto winner will travel
together as 'Team Canada'. Two of Toronto's local winners have actually
gone on to WIN the International competition, so Canada has already
demonstrated what our high school students can do. Let's get our
high school students excited about this wonderful opportunity!
Registration is still open and there is still lots of time for
students to study the Brain Facts primer, a 50 page book from which
all questions and answers will be drawn. This book is free to download
from the web site in PDF format.
Open to ALL high school students in the Hamilton and surrounding
area (including all secondary public, separate, and private schools).
Please contact Judith Shedden for more information or to register
a student (x24345, firstname.lastname@example.org), or check our Brain Bee
web site for more details: http://brain.mcmaster.ca/BrainBee.
receive $1 Million for studies of development and neural plasticity.
The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) granted 3 Psychology
research teams over a million dollars for the study of development
and neural plasticity across the lifespan. The funds, to be awarded
over the next 3-5 years, will enable researchers and their students
to explore how the infant brain processes sound, how visual deprivation
affects the development of the visual pathways, and how aging influences
visual perception. The research projects all combine behavioural measures
with modern neuroimaging techniques. Details of the grants are below
and on the CIHR web site. (www.cihr.ca)
Bennett & Allison Sekuler
, with Cheryl Grady, Rotman Research
“Pattern recognition and scene analysis
in older adults. $92,680 / year (2004-2007)
Daphne Maurer, with
Jane Dywan and Sidney Segalowitz (Brock University), and Cheryl
Grady and Kathleen O’Craven (RRI). “The influence
of visual deprivation on the development of human visual
pathways: Neuroimaging of patients treated for congenital cataract
$101,871 / year (2004-2007); $7,341 for the purchase of equipment
“Development of auditory event-related potentials in infancy”
$89,488 / year (2004-2009); $8,450 for the purchase of equipment
January 26-29, 2004 (Monday to Thursday)
Mental Health Awareness Week
Presented by the Psych Society in collaboration with Faculty of
Social Sciences Experiential Education
Schedule of Events:
- Monday to Thursday, Jan. 26 to 29
Information Booth in Student Centre
Fundraisers – Raffle Tickets for Psych Clothing
Selling Stuffed Animals, Ribbons
- Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 7:00 p.m., Psych Bldg., PC 204
Dr. Randi McCabe, Aniety Treatment & Research Centre
Dr. Ellen Lipman, Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences,
Offord Centre for Child Studies
- Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 7:00 p.m., Psych Bldg., PC204
Alethea Ouzas, Family Mental Health Support Network
Rick Casey, Miles for Mental Health Cross-Canada Biker
Gwen Davidson, Psychiatric Patient Advocate
Dr. Voruganti, Head Psychiatric Services Centre
- Thursday, Jan. 29 at 7:00 p.m., Psych Bldg., PC237
Wine & Cheese Movie Night
“Walter” a documentary about Schizophrenia by Dr.
BiopsychSociety and PsychSociety - MEET
THE PROF NIGHT
Professors from both Biology and Psychology
Departments will be attending.
When: Thursday, Jan. 22, 2004
Time: 7:00 PM
Where: Psychology Second Floor Lounge (205A/B)
NSERC is celebrating its
25th Anniversary of funding innovative research in the basic sciences.
As part of the celebrations, McMaster held an awards ceremony to honor
researchers who have been continuously funded by NSERC for the past
25 years. Psychology had a major presence at the celebration, with
faculty from our department alone accounting for 8 of the 72 honorees.
Congratulations to NSERC, and to our members of the 25 year club:
Professors Lorraine Allan, Lee Brooks, Jeff Galef, Betty Ann Levy,
Daphne Maurer, Ron Racine, Larry Roberts, and Shep Siegel. Here's
to many more years of outstanding research and discovery!
Clockwise from bottom left: Psychology Professor and McMaster
NSERC Representative Lorraine Allan along with McMaster President
Peter George, NSERC's VP of Research Partnerships Janet Walden, McMaster's
VP Research & International Affairs Mamdouh Shoukri, and Henry
Schwarcz, professor emeritus geography and geology.
for more see: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/story.cfm?id=2439
other links: NSERC -- www.nserc.ca
BioPsychology & Psychology Career Night 2004
When: Thursday, January 15,
2004 - 6:00 pm
Where: Council Chambers (Room
111 Gilmour Hall)
Brought to you by the Undergraduate BioPsych Society, the Undergraduate
Psychology Society, the Department of Psychology, the Department of
Biology and Science Career Services.
- Meet a representative from the Ministry of Community Safety
and Correction Services!
- Meet the President of Innovus Research!
- Talk to a Speech Language Pathologist!
- Speak to a Lawyer!
(Monday, December 1, 2003) McMaster's Tracy
, Assistant Professor in Psychology,
is one of four exceptional leaders in the Hamilton community who
will receive a Lifetime Honourary Child Abuse Council Memberships
this evening. The recipients organized the world¹s largest classroom
for youth at Copp¹s Coliseum on October 30, 2003. Over 11,000
youth, teachers, community professionals and parents attended the
"Bullying versus Basketball-One on One" daylong event. Professor
Vaillancourt will also be featured on Global TV's "Body and Health" program,
at 9 am on December 3. The segment includes discussion of girls'
agression, and a new initiative to make Hamilton Canada's first
bully-free community. To view the story click below
Research by McMaster Psychologists Rick
Legrand, Cathy Mondloch and Daphne
Maurer was featured in a recent article in the weekly
science newsmagazine, Science News:
"At least some data
on the subject come from studies of Canadians directed by psychologist
Daphne Maurer of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. Children subjected
to cataract-induced blindness in only the left eye for the first 2 to 6 months
of life lose an element crucial for discerning facial configurations, Maurer's
team reports in the October Nature Neuroscience. As teenagers and young adults,
these individuals find it difficult to detect differences in the spacing of
eyes and other facial
features from one person to another."
The work was originally published in the October edition of Nature
Neuroscience. To read more about this fascinating research, see
the full story, "Giving eyesight to the blind raises questions about
how people see," by Bruce Bower, at the Science News website:
Or visit the Maurer lab site:
Larry Roberts and graduate
student Antoine Shahin were
featured in a story "The Dallas Morning News" for their
work on music and the brain.
From the story: "Connections amplified: Music and the brain work
in concert, research shows" by Alexandra Witze:
One question that has plagued neuroscientists for years is whether
musical training alters the brain's activity or whether the brains
of musicians are different from the beginning than the brains of nonmusicians.
"Do musicians simply come with brains that are predisposed to
respond with more neurons when musical tones are heard?" asks Larry Roberts of McMaster
In trying to answer this question, Dr. Roberts and Antoine Shahin
have been studying seven children, ages 4 and 5, who are receiving
the Suzuki method of musical training. The researchers measured electrical
activity in the students' brains while musical tones were played to
a year of training, the children's brains had increased activity
in a region called the secondary auditory cortex but only
for the instrument they were training on. Piano students showed
a greater response to piano tones, while the lone violinist responded
only to a violin, Dr. Roberts reported at the neuroscience meeting.
Exposure to music at home, long before the students took lessons,
could have triggered that brain response, he said. As a next step,
the team plans to play different sounds for the children not
musical tones, but some unfamiliar acoustic trigger that may produce
other effects in the brain.
For the full story, see:
huge hit against bullying
McMaster University, in partnership with the Hamilton Police Service,
hosted the world's largest anti-bullying seminar Thursday with more
than 10,000 Grade 6, 7 and 8 students from Hamilton and Halton region
seminar included the educational theatre production, The Diary,
which addresses the physical, emotional and relational effects of
bullying and victimization that are relevant to adolescents. McMaster
psychology professor and international bullying expert Tracy
Vaillancourt and her 200 trained student volunteers
facilitated group discussion with the classes attending.
event sends a clear message to our youth about how their community
does not expect them to deal with bullying on their own," said
Vaillancourt. "Rather, bullying is a community problem that
is best dealt with using a community-wide approach that promotes
awareness and understanding. This event also highlights how the
community and the University can join forces to make a positive
change in the lives of children."
presentation was followed by the McMaster University men's basketball
home opener versus the University of New Brunswick. Community ticket
sales pushed the attendance for the game to over 11,853, setting
a new Canadian university basketball attendance record. McMaster
won the game by a score of 72-63.
event was supported by McMaster University, Hamilton Police Service,
the Hamilton Community Foundation, Hamilton Entertainment and Convention
Facilities Incorporated (HECFI), the McMaster Student Union, the
McMaster psychology department and Nike Canada.
the complete story, see http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/story.cfm?id=2338
and the October 31st edition of the Hamilton Spectator. The event
was also covered extensively on radio and television.
Alum wins CRC in Behavioural Neuroscience
Cheryl McCormick (PhD 1990)
is one of the newest recipients of a Canada Research Chair. Dr.
McCormick will be taking her Chair in Behavioural Neuroscience at
Brock University, where she plans to continue her research in behavioural
neuroscience and developmental neuroendocrinology. The Chairs Program
seeks to strengthen Canada's research excellence and research capacity
by attracting and retaining world-class researchers in Canadian
work investigates the effects of early life experiences (e.g., exposure
to social stressors, malnutrition, hormones) on cognitive and emotional
behaviour and sensitivity to psychostimulants in adulthood in rats.
She also investigates the physiological and neurochemical bases
for these effects. A related research interest is how sex hormones
influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal response to stress.
to Cheryl and welcome back to Canada!
will also appear tonight on CHCH News at 6:20 PM and 11:40 PM and
tomorrow either at 6:15 or 7:15 PM.
will also appear on the Discovery Channel, tomorrow at 7:00 PM and
11:00 PM and on Friday at 9:00 AM and 12 NOON.
McMaster researchers use virtual reality technology to study how
cyclists 'see' a race
ON When elite cyclists are racing down Hamilton¹s mountain
this week, you might think they know how fast they¹re going
from information they get from their eyes.
behavioural neuroscientist Hong-Jin
Sun and a team of researchers have found that feedback
from cyclists¹ legs to their brains is more important than
vision in determining speed.
a psychology professor, and his team use virtual reality technology
combined with a modified stationary mountain bike to evaluate how
the brain integrates different sources of information.
the first of its kind, will be published in an upcoming issue of
the journal CyberPsychology & Behaviour.
virtual reality technology allows researchers to create realistic
and natural testing scenarios while maintaining the ability to systematically
manipulate visual and kinesthetic stimuli while monitoring the corresponding
allows us to study the moment-to-moment coordination of visual information
with body movements,' said Sun.
'The real-time manipulation of the relation between different sources
of information can't be achieved in a real world experimental task;
however, this can now be accomplished using virtual reality. Further,
the sense of 'presence' the subjective experience of being
within an environment, is also much greater in a multisensory, immersive,
human-computer interface than in a simple computer desktop display.'
study, the researchers found that when visual cues and body movement
cues were provided separately or in combination, either cue can
provide sufficient information to the brain to determine speed.
When researchers made the two cues inconsistent, they found that
the body cues played a more dominant role.
said this research could help elite cyclists fine tune their body
performance as they understand the integrated relationship between
the visual and body cues at work when they race.
study recently published in the journal of Experimental Brain Research
by the same group, examines how humans estimate distance travelled,
another important source of information for cyclists.
is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
of Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
For more information contact:
Professor Hong-Jin Sun
Department of Psychology
T: 905-525-9140 ext. 24367 or 27565
vision scientists discover the right brain’ connected to the
left eye’s view of the world
September 10, 2003
ON - Three vision scientists from McMaster University’s Visual
Development Lab have discovered that the right hemisphere of a baby’s
brain must receive visual input during the first few weeks of life
to allow the brain to develop normal face processing skills.
findings are detailed in the article, Expert face processing requires
visual input to the right hemisphere during infancy, published this
week in the online edition of the journal Nature Neuroscience.
can recognize hundreds of faces at a glance. One reason we are so
good is that we recognize small differences between people in how
their features are spaced (e.g., how far apart their eyes are).
This allows us to recognize someone’s face from a novel point
of view (e.g., to recognize someone sitting across the aisle at
a movie theater with whom we previously had only face-to-face interactions).
This skill continues to develop through adolescence and seems to
depend on the right hemisphere.
two halves of the brain are not created equal as only the right
hemisphere appears able to develop expertise in processing faces,”
said psychology professor Daphne Maurer. “We know from this
study that early visual input to the right hemisphere is required
for this skill to develop correctly.”
student Richard Le Grand, research associate Cathy Mondloch and
professor Maurer studied children whose right brains missed early
visual experience when they were infants because they had cataracts
in their left eyes. During early infancy, each eye sends most of
its signals to the opposite side of the brain and the fibres that
connect the two hemispheres are not yet transmitting visual information.
These babies were able to look at faces from birth, but only their
normal right eye sent information to their developing brain prior
to treatment. This means that during early infancy, their left hemisphere
received signals from their normal right eye but, because of the
cataract, their right hemisphere did not receive signals from their
left eye. By six months of age, the cataracts had been removed and
the eye had been fitted with a compensatory contact lens by ophthalmologist
Henry Brent of the Hospital for Sick Children.
tested at least eight years later—after many years of viewing
faces—the patients performed very poorly when asked to distinguish
faces that differed only in the spacing among features. They performed
poorly despite being able to use their right eye — the eye
that had seen faces since birth — during the test. Another
group of patients who had a cataract in the right eye at birth performed
normally, even though their left hemisphere did not receive signals
from their right eye during the first few months of life.
are dependent on the intricate interactions between the intrinsic
structure of the brain and our early experiences to accurately distinguish
the myriad of faces we see everyday,” said Maurer.
www.nature.com/neuro and click on Advance Online Publication to
read the study.
and brightest academics in Canada, and the research they're doing...
Ottawa - Today, universities are
known for their star power -- and they aggressively recruit top
researchers to bring prestige and research dollars to the institution.
Dr. Patrick Bennett,
internationally recognized vision scientist, came from U of T to
As Canada Research Chairs, the pair (Dr.
Allison Sekuler, his wife, fellow psychologist)
secured an additional $1 million in infrastructure support from
the provincial and federal governments, a magnet for top graduate
students and post-doctoral fellows in vision science and cognitive
On June 30, we'll say "au revoir" to three great friends
who are retiring: Elmsley "Mitch"
Mitchell (centre, left picture), Erie
Long and John Platt (both in the bottom picture).
Although we hate to see them leave, at least it was a good excuse
for a party! They were sent off in style with a great retirement
bash on June 3 at the University Club.
Mitch, Erie and John: Thanks for all your hard work
and years of devotion to Psychology. The Department just won't be
the same without you!
For more photos of the fun, see brain.mcmaster.ca/Mitch.Erie.John/
Shes having my baby? Who does the baby look like?
Its often the first question asked of new parents. But Dr.
Martin Daly has another question: Do men and
women look for resemblance in different ways? The McMaster University
psychologists experiments are testing the hypothesis that fathers
greater uncertainty in confirming parenthood may result in differences
in how mom and dad look for telltale signs that junior is indeed
will be inducted into the McMaster
Alumni Gallery on Saturday, June 7. Since receiving her Ph.D. at McMaster
in 1968, Prof. Allan has made her mark at McMaster as a teacher, administrator
and scholar of international reputation. While conducting groundbreaking
research on the role of learning in perception and cognition, Prof.
Allan has continually offered her skillful and dedicated teaching
skills to countless graduate and undergraduate students.
The Alumni Gallery is a photographic and biographical display of some
of these alumni who lead interesting lives and make outstanding contributions
to society. (see: http://www.mcmaster.ca/ua/alumni/ag.htm
for more details about the Alumni Gallery and the Induction Ceremony).
Ecology and Ethology Colloquium - May 3-4, 2003
Psychology and Biology Departments hosted this year's Ontario Ecology
and Ethology Colloquium, May 3-4. The conference is a venue for
researchers to present their work in the fields of ecology, animal
behaviour, evolution and environmental science. The meeting featured
two plenary speakers, 90 regular talks and over 20 posters. The
event was a great success, thanks in large part to the efforts of
our own Sigal Balshine (Assistant Professor
in Psychology, and OEEC organizer), as well as a
number of other faculty and graduate students in Psychology and
of Science Accelerated Student Workshop
Psychology building was filled to the brim with grade 11 students
for this workshop, held on Saturday, May 3. Terri Lewis gave an
excellent introductory lecture, and a team of graduate students
(Jessica Phillips-Silver, Nikki Woods, Fil Cortese, Ale Freire,
Vicki Armstrong, George Chan, Jenny Campos, Graeme Moffat, and Mayu
Nishamura), showed off their latest computer demos. The response
from grade 11 students was overwhelmingly positive, and we'll look
forward to seeing many of them in the department as Psychology majors
in a few years! Thanks to Judy Shedden and her team (Ann Hollingshead,
Gary Weatherill, Milica Pavlica, and Mitch Mitchell) for putting
together such a terrific event.
you missed this event, never fear! May@Mac is just around the corner
(Saturday, May 24), with another opportunity to meet the friendly
faces of Psychology. For more information, visit: http://registrar.mcmaster.ca/external/tours/may24.htm
to Alex G. Ophir, from McMaster
University for best student oral presentation, and to J.A.
Strother, from UC-Berkeley, for best student poster at the 2003
meeting of The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.
Losers win in the end: Female Japanese quail that eavesdrop on fighting
males prefer the losers. Paper presentation at the Society for Integrative
and Comparative Biology (SCIB) International Conference, Toronto,
Ontario, January 2003. ...more
Tracy Vaillancourt ....receives two teaching awards
in her first year here at Mac...
cloaked in shadows - Psychologist Margo Wilson
of McMaster University in Canada said a sexual murderer has traits
that are at the far end of the behavioral bell curve. Most men,
she said, are "slightly deaf" to a woman's refusals because
evolution has programmed them to think that with persistence, she
might say yes. Similarly, most men are capable of violence but
only when necessary. Yet, "We know from lots of work that's been done on sexual-assault
offenders that they're not bothered by someone saying no. They
are just totally deaf," Wilson said. "These guys who
do this, for whatever reason, have the parameters all set wrong."
March 16, 2003) ...more
Bats Aren't Fussy Easters - Dr. Bennett Galef, one
of the study's co-authors, who studies animal behavior at McMaster
USES AVIAN 'PORN' TO EXPAND BIRD SCIENCE .....To
find out whether a bird is paying attention these days, it seems
you have to get a little risqué. Alex Ophir, 28, a PhD student
in the department of psychology ..... more
THE BRAIN -
Dr. Daphne Maurer
of McMaster University, has discovered that the ability to recognize
someone from different points of view -- when they lok down at a try
of food or turn their head to the side as a friend arrives -- is dependent
upon seeing things during the first few weeks of life. Their study's
findings were published in the November issue of the journal of Developmental
Comes to the City -
This exciting new series is the result of collaborations between
Sekuler and Nick
Markettos, senior advisor to the Office of the Vice-President, Research
& International Affairs - our very own researcher Dr.
will be talking on February
11: Competition, inequity and homicide
- What do social policies, income inequality and unsuccessful young
men have to do with murder? Join Martin Daly, professor of psychology,
to hear about the factors that can be used to predict the homicide
rate. Dr. Daly was also featured in the Hamilton Spectator on Saturday,
February 8, 2003 ....more
Sekuler and Professor Patrick Bennett are a husband
and wife team...more
your hands confuses your mind until you can see them
your left knee with your right hand appears to be an effortless
act. Not so for your brain.
research team including David Shore,
an assistant professor of psychology at McMaster University and
Donna Lloyd, Charles Spence and Gemma Calvert of the University
of Oxford used ...more
of McMaster University's psychology department, said female bullying
is primarily based on ostracizing another female. It comes in forms
that are less confrontational than males use, like gossip, name-calling
Male bullying cases are based largely on physical abuse, she said.
(The Toronto Star, Oct. 25, 2002)
Bullying by girls more subtle, panel says
McMaster psychologists were featured recently on the Daily Planet
(Discovery Channel), discussing the science of everyday life. Prof.
John Platt's segment focussed on how we use our binaural
abilities in a multi-media art installation at the Power Plant Art
Gallery in Toronto. (http://www.exn.ca/video/?Video=exn20021016-soundfx.asx).
segment explored how perceptual and attentional limits will minimize
the distracting effects of new protective netting at NHL arenas. (http://www.exn.ca/video/?video=exn20021014-hockeynet.asx)
University Professor in the Department of Psychology, recently
delivered the Donald W. Taylor Memorial Lecture at Yale University,
and was awarded the W. Horsley Gantt Medal from the Pavlovian
Society of North America"
("In Honor of the Nobel Pursuit of Truth."). The Gantt
Medal, established by the Society following the death of W. Horsley
Gantt in 1980, is awarded to individuals who have made distinguished
contributions to the fields of psychology, physiology, behavioral
neuroscience, psychophysiology, mental health or medicine within
the confines of Pavlovian conceptual models or who have contributed
significantly to the functioning of the Society.
Tracy Vaillancourt will
be one of 5 invited panelists at a televised Town Hall forum
on Bullying. Prof. Vaillancourt joined McMaster Psychology this
past July, and her recent research on aggression has received
international attention. For more information on attending the
forum, see "Reservations," below.
What: Town Hall Tonight - Bullying
When: Thursday, September 26 - 7:15 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Where: The Hamilton Spectator, Auditorium 44 Frid St. Hamilton, ON
Why: With the school year upon us, there is no better time to tackle
this important issue. Whether it be physical, mental or emotional,
bullying has affected all of us at some time. The Hamilton Spectator
and Cable 14 invite you to come to a Town Hall forum, where you can
ask questions of the experts and participate in a discussion on the
subject of bullying.
Panelists: Diana Furry, a teacher and principal with the Hamilton-Wentworth
District School Board
Tracy Vaillancourt, faculty member at McMaster University,
and expert on child-peer relations
Agnes Bongers, The Hamilton Spectator' family-issues writer, who has
reported extensively on bullying
social worker with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
Tracy Lamb, chair
of the Brookville Public School Parent/Community Council, and part
of the special Behavioural Task Force that was created to address
the issue of student behaviour in Halton public schools
Elliott, Executive Editor, The Hamilton Spectator
session is free of charge, but we ask that you RSVP to our SpecTel
lines at 905-521-5600 and press code 8696.
Other Details: This
is a televised event by Cable 14. Doors close at 7:30 p.m. sharp.
Access will not be permitted afterwards.
TOLERANCE, CENTRAL TO ADDICTION, RESPONDS TO LEARNED CUES - A FINDING
THAT MAY LEAD TO MORE EFFECTIVE TREATMENT
WASHINGTON - New studies reveal that a learned compensatory response
can trigger "drug tolerance," a physiological process central
to addiction. Drug tolerance makes people need more and more drug
to get the same effect, whether pain relief or a "high."
Its newly discovered psychological aspect -- in which a drug-predictive
cue primes the body to react "as if" the drug effect
is imminent -- might be used to treat addiction more effectively.
In short, if drug tolerance can be learned, there is a chance it
can be unlearned, reducing or eliminating the tolerance-related
cravings and other withdrawal symptoms that can lead addicts to
The findings appear in the July issue of the Journal of Experimental
Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, which is published by the
American Psychological Association (APA). This study used rats,
but addiction researchers frequently generalize from rats to humans
like humans, can become dependent on addictive drugs, and display
drug tolerance and drug withdrawal symptoms," says co-author
Shepard Siegel, Ph.D., of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Researchers had already shown that the drug tolerance of rats getting
morphine infusions depended on the presence of environmental cues
(sights or sounds paired with drugs). These external cues typically
have been used because they are easily controlled by the experimenter.
The new findings demonstrate there also are internal cues not controlled
by the researchers -- the early bodily sensations that the drug itself
In their July article, Siegel, with Marta Sokolowska, a graduate student
at McMaster University, and Joseph A. Kim, Ph.D., of the University
of California, San Francisco, explain how they built on these earlier
findings to add a psychological layer to drug tolerance's already
known physiological layer.
(for more information, see http://www.apa.org/releases/drug_tolerance.html)
recently did a talk on this paper at the Human Behavior and Evolution
Society conference at Rutgers University and won the "New Investigator
The press seems
fascinated with the topic and several news articles have appeared.
The London Times also did a story on Monday, June 17. Here are two
URL's with similar articles.
She was also interviewed
with the BBC World Service on a program called Outlook. You can
hear the interview from their website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/outlook_peo.shtml
is what the National Post had to say about it.
Nature, Science and the Discover Channel are going to run a story
on her work. These are just a few of the quotes that were emailed
work for the Nature Publishing Group, and we are running a web-only
story about your research paper "Facial resemblance enhances
trust" on our daily science news site - Nature Science Update."
interested in interviewing you about your recently published research
in the Proceedings of the Royal Society about facial resemblance
enhancing trust. The story would appear on the daily online news
section of Science magazine (Science NOW) and later in the Random
Samples section of the print magazine (likely the July 12 issue)."
am from the Discover Channel. We are hoping to put together a short
scripted news item about your face study. Do you have any graphics
we might use (ie: the composite faces). We will credit you or the
University on screen."
work on visual development and synesthesia was featured on a recent
(June 27) edition of the popular Dutch television program, Noorderlicht.
A webcast will be available at http://noorderlicht.vpro.nl/6506792
programme featured the research of Dr.Daphne Maurer and Dr.
Mondloch on the mixing of the senses in early development. It features
interview with Dr. Maurer explaining the evidence that initially
fail to distinguish between seeing, hearing, smelling, and tasting,
rather experience an intermingled confusion. Only when the sensory
cortices become differentiated do babies start to separate the
become aware of seeing the mother's face versus hearing her voice.
programme also features demonstrations that remnants of the intermingling
are evident in toddlers and even adults: Arial, 2 1/2-year-old
of faculty member, Dr. Balshine, tells Cathy Mondloch that a bright
ball is the one making a high-pitched sound and Dr. Maurer demonstrates
that adults perceive coloured odors as stronger than colourless
The Psy Jung team is the psychology departments contribution
to the GSA three-pitch Softball League. Our team is primarily
composed of Graduate students from the Psychology Department,
but also consist of Faculty, Undergraduates, Support Staff,
and Friends & Significant Others as well. Come by one
of our games and cheer us on to victory, or join us at the
Phoenix afterwards to revel in our wins (or losses). Also,
please feel free to visit our Team Web Site at:
February 28, 2002
out the pictures and information from this very successful evening.
FOUNDATION FOR INNOVATION (CFI) AWARD
received a major award from the Canada Foundation for Innovation
(CFI) to fund lab facilities and state-of-the-art equipment for
the study of development. The team of researchers, headed by Ron
Racine, was awarded over $2.2 million for their proposal: Optimizing
human development: Experiential influences on brain/behaviour maturation.
McMaster psychologists have been exceptionally successful in previous
CFI competitions as well, receiving funds from the New Opportunities
and Canada Research Chair Infrastructure programs totaling almost
$700,000. CFI contributions represent 40% of total project value,
enabling Psychology to access to about $7.5 million.
CFI awards are based on the recommendations of multidisciplinary
assessment committees made up of world-class experts from a wide
range of fields and disciplines. To receive funding, applicants
must show the excellence and innovative nature of their projects
and how they will benefit Canada. "This CFI investment confirms
the talent of our researchers and the research expertise that resides
at McMaster.," said Mamdouh Shoukri, vice-president research
& international affairs.
Career Night 2002
the night of events brought forth.
Shore was granted a CIHR Brain Star award from the
Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. The relevant
Stanford, MacInnes, Brown & Klein, 2001) compared humans and
mice traversing a set of Hebb-Williams mazes. The key innovation was
the use of Virtual Reality to test the human participants. See the
web site for further details about the award.