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Service-Related Conditions and Decision-Making in Military Veterans

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An increasing number of veterans are transitioning from military service to college. Critical to academic success is the process of decision-making, which previous research has found to be influenced by a variety of factors including anxiety and working memory (WM).

An increasing number of veterans are transitioning from military service to college. Critical to academic success is the process of decision-making, which previous research has found to be influenced by a variety of factors including anxiety and working memory (WM). Many service-related conditions often influence anxiety and WM, and given the high prevalence of these conditions among veterans, the present study aimed to analyze the effects of working memory and anxiety on decision-making behavior in U.S. Military Veterans. Participants completed a large test battery including tasks assessing WM skills (Symmetry Span Task), anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory), and decision-making (Iowa Gambling Task). The study results indicated that WM and anxiety both play roles in decision-making performance in young military veterans. High anxiety is related to increased avoidance of adverse outcomes in decision-making for U.S. Military Veterans, while lower working memory span is associated with greater risk-taking behavior. This study provides both functional and clinical implications into areas of possible intervention that need to be assessed in military veterans, as well as modifications to these assessments that need to be made in order to appropriately measure decision-making behavior. Future work will be done in order to more effectively analyze the adverse impacts of service-related conditions and the ways in which intervention can be implemented in order to minimize these effects.

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2018-05

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A Case Study: Speech recognition ability in noise for a U.S. military veteran with traumatic brain injury (TBI)

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The increase of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) cases in recent war history has increased the urgency of research regarding how veterans are affected by TBIs. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of TBI on speech recognition

The increase of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) cases in recent war history has increased the urgency of research regarding how veterans are affected by TBIs. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of TBI on speech recognition in noise. The AzBio Sentence Test was completed for signal-to-noise ratios (S/N) from -10 dB to +15 dB for a control group of ten participants and one US military veteran with history of service-connected TBI. All participants had normal hearing sensitivity defined as thresholds of 20 dB or better at frequencies from 250-8000 Hz in addition to having tympanograms within normal limits. Comparison of the data collected on the control group versus the veteran suggested that the veteran performed worse than the majority of the control group on the AzBio Sentence Test. Further research with more participants would be beneficial to our understanding of how veterans with TBI perform on speech recognition tests in the presence of background noise.

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2015-05

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Investigating the Relationship Between Visual Confirmation Bias and the Low-Prevalence Effect in Visual Search

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Previous research from Rajsic et al. (2015, 2017) suggests that a visual form of confirmation bias arises during visual search for simple stimuli, under certain conditions, wherein people are biased to seek stimuli matching an initial cue color even when

Previous research from Rajsic et al. (2015, 2017) suggests that a visual form of confirmation bias arises during visual search for simple stimuli, under certain conditions, wherein people are biased to seek stimuli matching an initial cue color even when this strategy is not optimal. Furthermore, recent research from our lab suggests that varying the prevalence of cue-colored targets does not attenuate the visual confirmation bias, although people still fail to detect rare targets regardless of whether they match the initial cue (Walenchok et al. under review). The present investigation examines the boundary conditions of the visual confirmation bias under conditions of equal, low, and high cued-target frequency. Across experiments, I found that: (1) People are strongly susceptible to the low-prevalence effect, often failing to detect rare targets regardless of whether they match the cue (Wolfe et al., 2005). (2) However, they are still biased to seek cue-colored stimuli, even when such targets are rare. (3) Regardless of target prevalence, people employ strategies when search is made sufficiently burdensome with distributed items and large search sets. These results further support previous findings that the low-prevalence effect arises from a failure to perceive rare items (Hout et al., 2015), while visual confirmation bias is a bias of attentional guidance (Rajsic et al., 2015, 2017).

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2018