Student dissecting brain

Senior Theses: 2000-2001

Honors Thesis:  
Diet And Pain:  The effects of fat ingestion on the formalin test in adult rats
An Honors Thesis by Phillip MoschellaFaculty Advisor: J. C. Lefebvre, Ph.D. 

The effects of diet and pain are poorly understood.  The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of fat on experimentally induced nociception in adult rats.  In experiment 1, five adult rats were tested to assess the analgesic effects of three treatment conditions consisting of ingestion of tap water, unsweetened goat’s milk, and a control using a repeated measures design on the formalin test, which tests for the level of nociception as well as the behavioral state after the presentation of a noxious stimulus.  In experiment 2, three adult rats were tested to determine if naloxone, a central opioid antagonist could reverse the results of experiment 1.  Analyses indicated that milk produced analgesia, and that the analgesic effect was reversed by naloxone.  These results are discussed in their importance for future directions of study.

Senior Theses:Assessment of Catastrophizing and PainElizabeth Blalock, Lindsey Carlberg, Elizabeth Humphries, Noel JosephFaculty Advisor: J. C. Lefebvre, Ph.D. 

Catastrophizing during painful stimulation may contribute to more intense pain experience and increased emotional distress.  The current study was interested in determining the reliability and validity of a new scale (the CAT scale) to assess the cognitive coping strategy of catastrophizing.  There were 100 participants in the sample, all students at Wofford College.  The results indicated that the CAT scale was reliable and significantly correlated with the existing PCS scale.  However, the CAT scale was not correlated to pain or mood.  Future research should be directed towards increasing the variability of the sample size.

The Short-Form of the Coping Strategies Questionnaire: Psychometric PropertiesKelly Pace, Jenna Sheheen Neil Wheaton, Phillip Moschella
Faculty Advisor: J. C. Lefebvre, Ph.D.

It has often been assumed that the amount of pain a person experiences is directly proportional to the amount of tissue damage.  How people cope or deal with their pain experience has been shown to be an important factor in determining the level of pain and disability.  The most widely used instrument is the Coping Strategies Questionnaire (CSQ).  The CSQ is designed to assess a participant’s normal means of coping with painful situations.  Despite the popularity of the CSQ as a research and clinical instrument, a shorter version would be beneficial for a number of reasons.  The current study assessed the properties of a shorter version of the CSQ that was developed in the lab.  The study included 22 chronic pain patients who were asked to complete a number of measures that assessed pain, activity interference, coping, functional status, and mood.  The results of the study suggest that the internal reliability of the short-form of the CSQ is not comparable to the original version.  However, correlation analyses found a pattern similar to other studies using the full version of the CSQ.  These results are discussed with suggestions for future studies.

Mechanisms of Choice in Concurrent Sequence Schedules
Brooke Huntley, Michaele Mata, Laura O'Tuel, and Kimberly Trahan
Faculty advisor: Alliston K. Reid, Ph.D. 

The delay of reinforcement gradient has often been described as a power function, an exponential, or a hyperbolic function. Each model produces highly similar curves, so experiments have not successfully been able to determine which model is more accurate. By measuring choice proportions in concurrently available response sequences, rather than simple responses, and parametrically manipulated the delays between responding in each sequence, this experiment pitted distinctive predictions of each model against each other. Subjects were five 21 year-old college students, who pressed buttons in two fixed sequences on a touch-sensitive screen to earn points, exchangeable for money. Delay was manipulated parametrically within the two sequences, and choice proportions were measured. Subjects were exposed to five conditions with a 0-4 second range of delay, and five conditions with a 0-8 second range of delay. Obtained choice proportions were more compatible with an exponential delay of reinforcement gradient occurring within response sequences than with a power function or hyperbolic model. 

Impression formation: Effects of popularity and outcome dependencyClaire Essex, Rebekah McLeod, Elizabeth Tyson, and Sara Wise
Faculty advisor: C. B. McAninch, Ph.D.

Children labeled as unpopular tend to be rejected by their peers, even in the presence of socially desirable behaviors. This study investigated a potential intervention for changing the unpopular label by creating dependency on a partner. It was hypothesized that popular partners would be rated more positively, but that dependency on a partner also would increase attention toward an unpopular partner. Thirty-three college students participated in this experiment, which manipulated popularity and independence. Results do not support the hypotheses, but confounding variables may have skewed the data.

Category based processing in impression formationReta Corbett, Joanna Ramsey, William Rhodes, and Sharreka Williams
Faculty advisor: C. B. McAninch, Ph.D.

This study examined whether partner type (popular versus unpopular) and outcome dependency (dependent versus independent) affects the impressions formed of a fictitious partner. Thirty-six undergraduates (16 male and 20 female) participated in the study. Participants read self-description forms, and twelve index cards referring to popular and unpopular adjectives about their fictitious partner. They then rated their partner on Likert type scales and completed a free recall form on the information presented about their partner. The results revealed main effects for partner type and for outcome dependency for the rating data, but no significant differences were found for the recall data. The findings do show an effect of category based processing on impression formation.

Visually Perceived Egocentric Localization and Thresholds For  Perception of Pitched Images
Cathy Franks, and Stacy ParrisFaculty Advisor: Don Scott, Ph.D