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Bullying, loneliness, and future responses to stress

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Bully victimization has been associated with blunted cardiovascular responses to stress as well as elevated responses to stress. The difference between these altered physiological responses to stress is largely unknown. This study explored several possible moderators to the relationship between

Bully victimization has been associated with blunted cardiovascular responses to stress as well as elevated responses to stress. The difference between these altered physiological responses to stress is largely unknown. This study explored several possible moderators to the relationship between chronic stress and future cardiac output (an indicator of increased stress) in response to future stressors. These moderators include the difference between social and physical stressors and individual levels of loneliness. Participants were administered measures of loneliness and victimization history, and led to anticipate either a "social" (recorded speech) or "non-social" (pain tolerance test ) stressor, neither of which occurred. EKG and impedance cardiography were measured throughout the session. When anticipating both stressors, loneliness and victimization were associated with increased CO. A regression revealed a three-way interaction, with change in cardiac output depending on victimization history, loneliness, and condition in the physical stressor condition. Loneliness magnified the CO output levels of non-bullied individuals when facing a physical stressor. These results suggest that non- bullied participants high in loneliness are more stressed out when facing stressors, particularly stressors that are physically threatening in nature.

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2013

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Individual differences in taste perception and bitterness masking

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The unpleasant bitter taste found in many nutritious vegetables may deter people from consuming a healthy diet. We investigated individual differences in taste perception and whether these differences influence the effectiveness of bitterness masking. To test whether phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) `supertasters'

The unpleasant bitter taste found in many nutritious vegetables may deter people from consuming a healthy diet. We investigated individual differences in taste perception and whether these differences influence the effectiveness of bitterness masking. To test whether phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) `supertasters' also taste salt and sugar with greater intensity, as suggested by Bartoshuk and colleagues (2004), we infused strips of paper with salt water or sugar water. The bitterness rating of the PTC strip had a significant positive linear relationship with ratings of both the intensity of sweet and salt, but the effect sizes were very low, suggesting that the PTC strip does not give a complete picture of tasting ability. Next we investigated whether various seasonings could mask the bitter taste of vegetables and whether this varied with tasting ability. We found that sugar decreased bitterness and lemon decreased liking for vegetables of varying degrees of bitterness. The results did not differ by ability to taste any of the flavors. Therefore, even though there are remarkable individual differences in taste perception, sugar can be used to improve the initial palatability of vegetables and increase their acceptance and consumption.

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Date Created
2012

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Novel cues reinstate cocaine-seeking behavior and induce Fos Protein as effectively as conditioned cues

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The capability of cocaine-associated stimuli in eliciting craving in human addicts, even after extended periods of abstinence, is modeled in animals using cue reinstatement of extinguished cocaine-seeking behavior. This study aimed to examine brain activation in response to cocaine cues

The capability of cocaine-associated stimuli in eliciting craving in human addicts, even after extended periods of abstinence, is modeled in animals using cue reinstatement of extinguished cocaine-seeking behavior. This study aimed to examine brain activation in response to cocaine cues in this model apart from activation produced by test novelty using a novel cue control. Rats trained to self-administer cocaine paired with either an oscillating light or tone cue underwent daily extinction training and were then tested for reinstatement of extinguished cocaine-seeking behavior elicited by response-contingent presentations of either their assigned cocaine-paired cue or the alternate, novel cue. Additional controls received saline infusions and cue presentations yoked to a cocaine-trained rat. Brains were harvested for Fos immunohistochemistry immediately after the 90-min reinstatement test. Surprisingly, conditioned and novel cues both reinstated responding to a similar degree; however magnitude of reinstatement did vary by cue modality with the greatest reinstatement to the light cues. In most brain regions, Fos expression was enhanced in rats with a history of cocaine training regardless of cue type with the exception of the Cg1 region of the anterior cingulate cortex, which was sensitive to test cue modality. Also Fos expression within the dorsomedial caudate-putamen was correlated with responding in the novel, but not conditioned, cue groups. In subsequent experiments, we observed a similar pattern of reinstatement in rats trained and tested for sucrose-seeking behavior, whereas rats trained and tested with the cues only reinstated to a novel light and tone, but not a familiar cue. The results suggest that novel cues reinstate responding to a similar extent as conditioned cues regardless of whether animals have a history of operant-delivered drug or a natural reinforcer. Furthermore, similar brain circuits as those involved in cocaine-seeking behavior are activated by novel cues, suggesting converging processes exist to drive conditioned and novel reinforcement seeking.

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2012

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Stress and poor physical and mental health among postpartum Mexican American women: a test of heart rate variability in promoting resilience

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Low-income Mexican American women face significant risk for poor health during the postpartum period. Chronic stressors are theorized to negatively impact mental and physical health outcomes. However, physiological factors associated with increased self-regulatory capacity, such as resting heart rate variability,

Low-income Mexican American women face significant risk for poor health during the postpartum period. Chronic stressors are theorized to negatively impact mental and physical health outcomes. However, physiological factors associated with increased self-regulatory capacity, such as resting heart rate variability, may buffer the impact of stress. In a sample of 322 low-income Mexican American women (mother age 18-42; 84% Spanish-speaking; modal family income $10,000-$15,000), the interactive influence of resting heart rate variability and three chronic prenatal stressors (daily hassles, negative life events, economic stress) on maternal cortisol output, depressive symptoms, and self-rated health at 12 weeks postpartum was assessed. The hypothesized interactive effects between resting heart rate variability and the chronic prenatal stressors on the health outcomes were not supported by the data. However, results showed that a higher number of prenatal daily hassles was associated with increased postpartum depressive symptoms, and a higher number of prenatal negative life events was associated with lower postpartum cortisol output. These results suggest that elevated chronic stress during the prenatal period may increase risk for poor health during the postpartum period.

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Date Created
2015

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The use of an internal locus of control scale as a predictor of exercise adherence in children ages 6-12

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The U.S. Surgeon General has recommended that all Americans engage in regular physical activity throughout the lifespan as a way to maintain and improve health and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, or other chronic conditions. The

The U.S. Surgeon General has recommended that all Americans engage in regular physical activity throughout the lifespan as a way to maintain and improve health and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, or other chronic conditions. The recommendation for children is a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate and intense physical activity everyday. As children enter adolescence their level of physical activity often decreases; and active adults were typically active adolescents. More than 50% of adults that begin a physical activity program discontinue the behavior within 9 months. Interventions to increase physical activity have looked at self-esteem and self-efficacy. Locus of control (LOC) is a concept that people either view their own behavior as influencing the events around them (internal) or other events controlling their fate or destiny (external). This study looked at locus of control as a predictor of exercise adherence and future exercise patterns in children ages 6-12 in Mesa, AZ. Locus of control as measured by the Child Nowicki-Strickland Internal External (CNSIE) scale differed by gender and by physical activity group at school at post-intervention. Self-reported physical activity as measured by the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Older Children (PAQ-C) showed differences in physical activity (PA) levels by gender for baseline school PA, by age group for baseline non-school PA, by gender and age group for post-intervention school PA, and by gender only for post-intervention non-school PA. A secondary objective was to assess if the Think Healthy About Nutrition and eXercise (THANX) after school program influenced participants' LOC or PA patterns. This study found that the THANX program had no effect on LOC or PA level at any time point.

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2012

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Social Affect Regulation and Physical Affection Between Married Partners: An Experimental Examination of the Stress-Buffering Effect of Spousal Touch and the Role of Adult Attachment

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Background: When studying how humans regulate their affect, it is important to recognize that affect regulation does not occur in a vacuum. As humans are an inherently social species, affect plays a crucial evolutionary role in social behavior, and social

Background: When studying how humans regulate their affect, it is important to recognize that affect regulation does not occur in a vacuum. As humans are an inherently social species, affect plays a crucial evolutionary role in social behavior, and social behavior likewise assumes an important role in affect and affect regulation. Emotion researchers are increasingly interested the specific ways people help to regulate and dysregulate one another’s affect, though experimental examinations of the extant models and theory are relatively few. This thesis presents a broad theoretical framework for social affect regulation between close others, considering the role of attachment theory and its developmental foundations for social affect regulation in adulthood. Affectionate and responsive touch is considered a major mechanism of regulatory benefit between people, both developmentally and in adulthood, and is the focus of the present investigation. Method: A total sample of 231 heterosexual married couples were recruited from the community. Participants were assigned to engage in affectionate touch or sit quietly, and/or engage in positive conversation prior to a stress task. Physiological data was collected continuously across the experiment. Hypotheses: Phasic respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) was used to index the degree of regulatory engagement during the stressor for those who did and did not touch. It was hypothesized that touch would reduce stress appraisal and thus the need for regulatory engagement. This effect was predicted to be greater for those more anxiously attached while increasing the need for regulatory engagement in those more avoidantly attached. Secondarily, partner effects of attachment on sympathetic activation via pre-ejection period (PEP) change were tested. It was predicted that both attachment dimensions would predict a decrease in partner PEP change in the touch condition, with avoidant attachment having the strongest effect. Results: Hierarchical linear modeling techniques were used to account for nonindependence in dyadic observations. The first set of hypotheses were not supported, while the second set were partially supported. Wives’ avoidance significantly predicted husbands’ PEP change, but in the positive direction. This effect also significantly increased in the touch condition. Theoretical considerations and limitations are discussed.

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Date Created
2017

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Does Touch and Talk Increase Cardiovascular Synchrony in Married Couples?

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Literature was reviewed about how synchrony occurs in infant-parent dyads, in emotion, and physiologically in couple dyads. Social baseline theory suggests that both conversation and interpersonal touch confer benefits by reducing burden on the participants through coregulatory processes. The current

Literature was reviewed about how synchrony occurs in infant-parent dyads, in emotion, and physiologically in couple dyads. Social baseline theory suggests that both conversation and interpersonal touch confer benefits by reducing burden on the participants through coregulatory processes. The current study examined how affectionate touch and positive conversation influenced physiological synchrony, a potential mechanism of physiological coregulation, in couples. Because synchrony is believed to occur within the autonomic nervous system, in the present study, physiological synchrony was measured using cardiac interbeat interval (IBI) as an indicator of autonomic nervous system activation. Couples were assigned to one of four conditions: interpersonal touch with positive conversation, interpersonal touch without conversation, positive conversation with no interpersonal touch, and neither interpersonal touch nor conversation. We hypothesized that 1) IBI synchrony between spouses within the real data would be significantly higher than within a phase-shuffled version of the data; and 2) synchrony would be strongest in the touch-talk condition, followed by the touch-no talk condition, followed by the talk-no touch- condition, and finally by the no touch-no talk condition. We also investigated whether there was a tendency for husbands or wives to serve as leader or follower in the four conditions. Using windowed lagged cross-correlations, we found that synchrony within the real data was stronger than synchrony within the shuffled data, suggesting that it reflects an ongoing interpersonal process. Next, we found that there was significantly greater synchrony in the touch-talk than in the touch-no talk condition, marginally greater synchrony in the touch-no talk condition than in the no touch-talk condition, and significantly greater synchrony in the no touch-talk than in the no touch-no talk conditions, suggesting that talk, rather than touch, was driving these synchrony levels. We also found that the only condition with a significant level of leading-following pattern was the no touch-talk condition. More husbands than wives led the covariation in IBI when couples were conversing but not touching. When touch was included this effect did not occur. Future research should include potential moderators such as marital satisfaction and investigate whether seeing one’s partner influences synchrony.

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Date Created
2018

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Fat as a Basic Taste: CD36 and its Role in Fat Taste

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Epidemiological studies have identified obesity as a risk factor for numerous chronic diseases such as adult onset diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. In both humans and laboratory animals, high-fat diets have been shown to cause obesity. Increases in dietary fat lead

Epidemiological studies have identified obesity as a risk factor for numerous chronic diseases such as adult onset diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. In both humans and laboratory animals, high-fat diets have been shown to cause obesity. Increases in dietary fat lead to increased energy consumption and, consequently, significant increases in body fat content. CD36 has been implicated in fat perception, preference, and increased consumption, but it is yet to be tested using a behavior paradigm. To study the effect of CD36 on fat taste transmission and fat consumption, four CD36 knockout (experimental) mice and four Black 6 wildtype (control) mice underwent 20 days of fat preference and perception testing. Both groups of mice were exposed to foods with progressively increasing fat content (10%, 12.5%, 15% 17.5%, 20%, 45%) in order to assess the effect of CD36 on fat preference. Afterward, the mice were subjected to an aversive conditioning protocol designed to test the effect of CD36 on fat taste perception; development of a conditioned taste aversion was indicative of ability to taste fat. Especially, knockout mice exhibited diminished preference for and reduced consumption of fat during preference testing and were unable to identify fat taste as the conditioned stimulus during aversive conditioning. A repeated measures ANOVA with Bonferroni correction revealed a significant main effect of group on fat consumption, energy intake, and weight. Linear regression revealed CD36 status to account for a majority of observed variance in fat consumption across both phases of the experiment. These results implicate CD36 in fat taste perception and preference and add to the growing body of evidence suggesting fat as a primary taste.

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Date Created
2018

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Synchrony: biometric indication of team cognition

Description

The goal of this experiment is to observe the relation between synchrony and performance in 3-person teams in a simulated Army medic training environment (i.e., Monitoring Extracting and Decoding Indicators of Cognitive workload: MEDIC). The cardiac measure Interbeat-Interval (IBI)

The goal of this experiment is to observe the relation between synchrony and performance in 3-person teams in a simulated Army medic training environment (i.e., Monitoring Extracting and Decoding Indicators of Cognitive workload: MEDIC). The cardiac measure Interbeat-Interval (IBI) was monitored during a physically oriented, and a cognitively oriented task. IBI was measured using NIRS (Near-Infrared Spectrology), and performance was measured using a team task score during a balance board and puzzle task. Synchrony has not previously been monitored across completely different tasks in the same experiment. I hypothesize that teams with high synchrony will show high performance on both tasks. Although no significant results were discovered by the correlational analysis, a trend was revealed that suggests there is a positive relationship between synchrony and performance. This study has contributed to the literature by monitoring physiological measures in a simulated team training environment, making suggestions for future research.

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Date Created
2016

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Stress reactivity as a predictor of emotional eating

Description

Childhood obesity is associated with many well established health risks as well as high annual public health costs. Because of this, the childhood obesity literature has highlighted the need to detect at-risk groups in order to implement targeted preventions. Emotional

Childhood obesity is associated with many well established health risks as well as high annual public health costs. Because of this, the childhood obesity literature has highlighted the need to detect at-risk groups in order to implement targeted preventions. Emotional eating has been identified as an unhealthy behavior and a risk factor for overweight status among children though very little is known about what predisposes children to emotionally eat. Stress has often been found to elicit emotional eating but most studies looking at this relationship have relied on self-reports in adult and clinical samples. Thus, the current study seeks to investigate the relationship between stress reactivity (measured using heart rate variability) and emotional eating in a sample of 247 children between the ages of 4-6. Furthermore, levels of control may moderate the relationship between stress reactivity (HRV) and emotional eating. Linear regression analysis was used to explore these relationships. It was expected that higher levels of reactivity to stress would predict an increased likelihood of emotional eating. This association was expected to be attenuated among children with higher levels of inhibitory control and attentional focusing as well as lower levels of impulsivity. However, the hypothesized findings were not supported by the data. Despite these null findings, and in light of several limitations, it is still hypothesized that emotional eating involves physiological and impulsivity/effortful control processes. Implications of future research are discussed.

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Date Created
2016