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Somatosensory Modulation during Speech Planning

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Previous studies have found that the detection of near-threshold stimuli is decreased immediately before movement and throughout movement production. This has been suggested to occur through the use of the internal forward model processing an efferent copy of the motor

Previous studies have found that the detection of near-threshold stimuli is decreased immediately before movement and throughout movement production. This has been suggested to occur through the use of the internal forward model processing an efferent copy of the motor command and creating a prediction that is used to cancel out the resulting sensory feedback. Currently, there are no published accounts of the perception of tactile signals for motor tasks and contexts related to the lips during both speech planning and production. In this study, we measured the responsiveness of the somatosensory system during speech planning using light electrical stimulation below the lower lip by comparing perception during mixed speaking and silent reading conditions. Participants were asked to judge whether a constant near-threshold electrical stimulation (subject-specific intensity, 85% detected at rest) was present during different time points relative to an initial visual cue. In the speaking condition, participants overtly produced target words shown on a computer monitor. In the reading condition, participants read the same target words silently to themselves without any movement or sound. We found that detection of the stimulus was attenuated during speaking conditions while remaining at a constant level close to the perceptual threshold throughout the silent reading condition. Perceptual modulation was most intense during speech production and showed some attenuation just prior to speech production during the planning period of speech. This demonstrates that there is a significant decrease in the responsiveness of the somatosensory system during speech production as well as milliseconds before speech is even produced which has implications for speech disorders such as stuttering and schizophrenia with pronounced deficits in the somatosensory system.

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2019-05

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Relations Between Gender Typicality and Adjustment in Adolescence

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The degree to which adolescents describe themselves as gender typical, as defined by their interests, activities, personal qualities, and other characteristics, is related to a broad range of adjustment indices. The goal of this thesis was to review studies conducted

The degree to which adolescents describe themselves as gender typical, as defined by their interests, activities, personal qualities, and other characteristics, is related to a broad range of adjustment indices. The goal of this thesis was to review studies conducted between 2000 and 2017 to provide a summary and critique of this research. A total of 18 studies were reviewed. The majority of findings indicate a positive association between gender typicality and beneficial adjustment outcomes, and a negative association between gender typicality and poor adjustment outcomes. Suggestions for future research and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

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2017-05

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The Relationship between Biculturalism and Mental Health Outcomes among College-bound Latino Adolescents

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Cultural beliefs and behaviors can serve as both risk and protective processes for Latino adolescents, with some recent empirical work suggesting the important protective role of bicultural values (e.g., endorsing high levels of both mainstream culture and culture of origin).

Cultural beliefs and behaviors can serve as both risk and protective processes for Latino adolescents, with some recent empirical work suggesting the important protective role of bicultural values (e.g., endorsing high levels of both mainstream culture and culture of origin). We expanded on past research to explore whether bicultural values were associated with internalizing (depressive, anxiety, stress) symptoms and externalizing (alcohol use) symptoms among a sample of Latino adolescents preparing to begin college. We hypothesized biculturalism to protect against all negative outcomes. Our sample consisted of 209 college-bound Latino adolescents (65% female; 85.1% Mexican descent; 10.6% 1st generation, 62% 2nd generation) who were enrolled in university for the coming fall. All multivariate models included sex, ethnicity, parent education, and immigrant generation status as covariates. Correlations and multivariate analyses revealed that higher bicultural values were associated with lower depressive symptoms, lower anxiety symptoms, lower stress, and greater alcohol use. Gender was shown to moderate the relationship between biculturalism and alcohol use. Overall, findings suggested that greater bicultural values were associated with lower endorsement of internalizing symptoms for all participants, but higher endorsement of alcohol use over the last year for the highly bicultural females. Biculturalism may be particularly protective for Latino adolescents who are preparing to attend college given the need for them to transition into an environment with high acculturative demands. However, our results also highlight that these bicultural females may be at greater risk for alcohol use and related problems.

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2017-12

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Adolescent Prosocial Behavior at SES Extremes

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The literature has consistently established levels of adolescent maladjustment well above national norms for both socioeconomic (SES) extremes (Lyman & Luthar 2014). Yet literature on positive adolescent adjustment, and its protective or even corrective factors is lacking (Eisenberg, Zhou, &

The literature has consistently established levels of adolescent maladjustment well above national norms for both socioeconomic (SES) extremes (Lyman & Luthar 2014). Yet literature on positive adolescent adjustment, and its protective or even corrective factors is lacking (Eisenberg, Zhou, & Coller, 2001). This study examined the effects of gender and SES on parent attachment in relation to reports of prosocial behavior. Eleventh grade adolescents (N = 397) were recruited from two public high schools for academically-gifted students who were either high or low-level SES (i.e. the extremes). The students provided passive consent and answered questions on their demographics, perceived relationship with their parents, and tendency to behave in a prosocial manner. Multivariate analyses of variance and follow up analyses of variance were run by gender and SES to determine main effects for gender and SES on parent attachment and prosocial behavior. Regressions following preliminary correlations analyzed whether parental attachment predicted higher levels of adolescent prosocial behavior. Results demonstrated that females communicated with their mothers significantly more and reported higher levels of prosocial behavior than their male counterparts. Findings with regard to SES revealed that high SES adolescents reported increased parent attachment, whereas low SES adolescents reported higher levels of community\u2014based prosocial behaviors. Finally, certain dimensions of parent attachment predicted increases and decreases only in specific prosocial behaviors. Because prosocial behaviors change throughout adolescence, future ventures should consider a longitudinal analysis to obtain a more comprehensive picture of adolescent positive adjustment.

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2017-12

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Benefits of high intelligence: Potential moderating effects of emotion regulation and friendship quality

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Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or actions are on the rise in adolescents (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015; Bridge, Asti, & Horowitz, 2015). Parents, school administrators, and therapists are searching for resiliency factors with in at-risk groups to aid

Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or actions are on the rise in adolescents (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015; Bridge, Asti, & Horowitz, 2015). Parents, school administrators, and therapists are searching for resiliency factors with in at-risk groups to aid students in need. In previous work, Luthar and Zigler (1992) reported that intelligent youth are more resilient than less intelligent youth under low stress conditions but they lose their advantage under high stress conditions. This study examined whether intelligence (reflected in grade point average; GPA) and maladaptive (internalizing and externalizing symptoms) behaviors are negatively related in adolescents, and tested whether level of stress, reflected in emotion regulation and friendship quality, moderated that association. It also probed whether the relationships differ by gender. Sixth-graders (N=506) were recruited with active parental consent from three middle schools. Adolescents completed self-report questionnaires Regarding demo graphics, maladaptive behaviors, emotion regulation, and friendship quality, and GPA data were collected from the school. Regression analyses found that GPA was negatively related to externalizing symptoms. Girls with poor friendship communication report significantly higher maladaptive behaviors. This relation was more pronounced for girls with high GPAs, as predicted. Results support the theory that intelligent female adolescents are more reactive under adverse circumstances. Future efforts should follow students through middle school into high school to evaluate whether friendships remain important to adjustment, hold for boys as well as girls, and have implications for relationship interventions.

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2017-12

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Unearth: Fostering Adolescent Immigrants Toward Belonging Through Self-Awareness, Multicultural Identification, and Journaling

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The thesis project merges interdisciplinary research to develop a self-directed creative intervention for immigrant youth, allowing them to make sense of their social and cultural identities. It takes research on self-awareness, multicultural identification, perceived belonging, and bibliotherapy to create a

The thesis project merges interdisciplinary research to develop a self-directed creative intervention for immigrant youth, allowing them to make sense of their social and cultural identities. It takes research on self-awareness, multicultural identification, perceived belonging, and bibliotherapy to create a guided journal titled "Unearth," filled with art and writing prompts that are age-appropriate for adolescents and that serve as avenues for self-exploration. The project ultimately engages a focus group discussion to understand the usability and accessibility of the intervention.

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2021-05

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Generational Changes in Adolescent Alcohol and Marijuana Use

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Substance use during adolescence is a significant predictor of developing a later substance use disorder. An encouraging trend is that there have been recent declines in rates of adolescent substance use, including alcohol and marijuana. However, these two substances may

Substance use during adolescence is a significant predictor of developing a later substance use disorder. An encouraging trend is that there have been recent declines in rates of adolescent substance use, including alcohol and marijuana. However, these two substances may be decreasing differently from one another as a result of age, period, and cohort effects. Therefore, the overall trend of decreased substance use in more recent generations of adolescents may be greater for one substance than the other. The current study tested declines in adolescent alcohol and marijuana use across two generations measured in 1988-1990 and 2006-2012. Methodological strengths include controls for demographic characteristics and for parental alcohol disorder (as a proxy for genetic risk). Moreover, we tested whether findings would replicate using two methods—first comparing all assessed members of one generational cohort with all assessed members of the other generational cohort, and then comparing only matched parent-child pairs. Testing this second matched sample removes some potential demographic and risk confounds that might occur across cohorts in typical epidemiological studies. Results demonstrated that the younger cohort of adolescents used both substances less than the older cohort, and this effect was stronger for alcohol than for marijuana. These results were replicated in both samples over and above demographic variables. The parent-child sample showed that children used less alcohol and marijuana than did their parent during the same age period, suggesting that these trends cannot simply be due to changes in the demographics of the adolescent population over time. Taken together with epidemiological studies, these findings suggest encouraging declines in adolescent substance use rates but also indicate less decline in marijuana use compared to alcohol use. This prompts further surveillance to determine if marijuana use rates may start increasing among adolescents in the future.

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2020-05

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The Role of Familism and Life Stressors in Latinx Adolescents' Cortisol Response

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Family influences are known predictors of adolescent health and well-being trajectories, yet little research has investigated how adolescents’ orientation to family may be associated with their physiological stress responses. Influenced by the strength-based approach to culture, this study evaluated 418

Family influences are known predictors of adolescent health and well-being trajectories, yet little research has investigated how adolescents’ orientation to family may be associated with their physiological stress responses. Influenced by the strength-based approach to culture, this study evaluated 418 Hispanic adolescents' familism values and perceived life stress in family, school, and peer domains to investigate prospective associations with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis stress responses to the Group Public Speaking Task for Adolescents (GPST-A). Prior growth-mixture modeling on this sample revealed a five-class solution of cortisol responding to the GPST-A that was used here as the dependent variable: one class showed a more pronounced pattern of reactivity, potentially indicative of hyper-responsivity to the stress task; two classes showed evidence of a low to moderate cortisol response, potentially indicative of an adaptive physiological response to the challenge; and two classes showed patterns of non-responsivity, potentially indicative of hypo-responsivity. Results demonstrate that the role of familism is nuanced in the context of stressors, potentially offering both promotive and risk-amplifying effects for the physiological stress response system. This study offered several novel findings in the relation between cultural factors, salient stressors of adolescence, and HPA activity.

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2020-05

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Startle-evoked movement in multi-jointed, two-dimensional reaching tasks

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Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown that SEM enhances single joint movements that are usually performed with difficulty. While the presence of SEM in the stroke survivor population advances scientific understanding of movement capabilities following a stroke, published studies using the SEM phenomenon only examined one joint. The ability of SEM to generate multi-jointed movements is understudied and consequently limits SEM as a potential therapy tool. In order to apply SEM as a therapy tool however, the biomechanics of the arm in multi-jointed movement planning and execution must be better understood. Thus, the objective of our study was to evaluate if SEM could elicit multi-joint reaching movements that were accurate in an unrestrained, two-dimensional workspace. Data was collected from ten subjects with no previous neck, arm, or brain injury. Each subject performed a reaching task to five Targets that were equally spaced in a semi-circle to create a two-dimensional workspace. The subject reached to each Target following a sequence of two non-startling acoustic stimuli cues: "Get Ready" and "Go". A loud acoustic stimuli was randomly substituted for the "Go" cue. We hypothesized that SEM is accessible and accurate for unrestricted multi-jointed reaching tasks in a functional workspace and is therefore independent of movement direction. Our results found that SEM is possible in all five Target directions. The probability of evoking SEM and the movement kinematics (i.e. total movement time, linear deviation, average velocity) to each Target are not statistically different. Thus, we conclude that SEM is possible in a functional workspace and is not dependent on where arm stability is maximized. Moreover, coordinated preparation and storage of a multi-jointed movement is indeed possible.

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2016-12

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Adolescent Predictors of Marijuana Cessation and Motivations for Quitting Marijuana in a Racially Balanced Adult Non-Treatment Sample

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Marijuana is currently the mostly widely used illicit drug in the U.S., and has been for multiple decades (Johnston et. al., 2016). Despite a growing belief that marijuana use is not harmful, over 4 million Americans have met criteria for

Marijuana is currently the mostly widely used illicit drug in the U.S., and has been for multiple decades (Johnston et. al., 2016). Despite a growing belief that marijuana use is not harmful, over 4 million Americans have met criteria for marijuana use disorders in the past year alone (CBHSQ, 2015). According to marijuana trajectory studies, about a third of marijuana users will end up quitting later in life, but some \u2014 such as those who meet criteria for dependence \u2014 have a much greater difficultly quitting. Therefore, by looking at marijuana users who were successful in quitting, and comparing them to ongoing adult marijuana users, factors that may assist in helping an individual quit \u2014 such as certain motivations for quitting \u2014 may be identified. To study these issues, data was collected from 507 participants from the Pittsburgh Youth Study. It was found that adolescents who used marijuana weekly for at least one year were likely to be ongoing marijuana users in adulthood and that adolescents who had a warm relationship with their primary caretaker were likely to have quit marijuana by adulthood. It was also found that Black participants were more likely to have legal, monetary, and religious reasons for quitting than were White participants. Furthermore, participants who used regularly in adolescence were likely to list legal reasons, as well as a concern that marijuana use was needed to feel normal. Finally, it was found that not a single motivation for quitting marijuana was associated with a shorter period of abstinence. The implications of these findings for motivations to quit marijuana are the focus of the discussion.

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2016-12