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Cognitive Enhancement With Stimulants: Effects And Correlates, Irena Ilieva Jan 2014

Cognitive Enhancement With Stimulants: Effects And Correlates, Irena Ilieva

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Does non-medical use of prescription stimulants improve healthy cognition? What distinguishes healthy users of ADHD medication from their peers? The present project examined stimulants’ cognitive enhancement effects and the psychological profile of non-medical stimulant users. Study 1, a double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment, found no enhancing effect of mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall) on healthy participants’ inhibitory control, working memory, episodic memory, convergent creativity, perceptual intelligence, and a standardized achievement test. No moderating effects of baseline performance or COMT genotype were detected. Despite the lack of enhancement observed for most measures and most participants, participants nevertheless believed their performance was more enhanced by ...


Social Context And The Pathways To Happiness, Christopher D. Reece Jan 2014

Social Context And The Pathways To Happiness, Christopher D. Reece

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Quantitative studies of human happiness often assume that the determinants of happiness are universal across time and place, reflecting inherent psychological needs. This dissertation challenges this assumption, exploring the idea that the determinants of happiness vary across social contexts. Chapter one tests the hypothesis that relationship between religiosity and happiness depends upon economic conditions; chapter two examines the impact of unemployment on happiness across four countries; chapter three explores the impact of private sector employment on happiness against the backdrop of the Chinese market reforms. Taken together, the findings suggest that researchers seeking to better understand the determinants of happiness ...


Biological Correlates Of Conduct Disorder And Callous-Unemotional Traits, Anna Rudo-Hutt Jan 2014

Biological Correlates Of Conduct Disorder And Callous-Unemotional Traits, Anna Rudo-Hutt

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Callous-unemotional (CU) traits have been proposed to identify a unique subgroup of children with conduct disorder (CD). Little is known, however, about the biological correlates of these traits. In addition, research into the biological correlates of CD has been mixed. This dissertation tested the hypothesis that CU traits moderate the relationship between CD and biological indicators of activity in the central nervous system, the autonomic nervous system, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Specifically, CU traits were expected to be associated with decreased arousal at rest and in response to stress, whereas it was predicted that symptoms of CD would be ...


Trial-By-Trial Coding Of Instructive Signals In The Cerebellum: Insights From Eyeblink Conditioning In Mice, Farzaneh Najafi Jan 2014

Trial-By-Trial Coding Of Instructive Signals In The Cerebellum: Insights From Eyeblink Conditioning In Mice, Farzaneh Najafi

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

The cerebellum is an area of the brain that plays a crucial role in the learning of motor skills. This process involves climbing fibers, which provide teaching signals to Purkinje cells in the cerebellar cortex when perturbations occur during a movement. However, controversy has arisen over climbing fibers contribution to cerebellar learning. This is because climbing-fiber signals are described as "all-or-nothing": they fire a single burst of action potentials in response to all supra-threshold stimuli, regardless of their strength. On the contrary, motor learning is not all-or-nothing: the amount of learning is driven by the strength of perturbations. In this ...


Systemic Incongruity: Bringing Down The Risks Of Conformity And Deviation Biases, Shefali V. Patil Jan 2014

Systemic Incongruity: Bringing Down The Risks Of Conformity And Deviation Biases, Shefali V. Patil

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Employees often have to decide whether to conform to or deviate from the status quo. Exhibiting consistent preferences for either preserving or maintaining the status quo (i.e., conformity biases) or for challenging or rejecting the status quo (i.e., deviation biases) can be costly. Conformity biases prevent employees from adapting to changing task demands and deviation biases hamper the predictability and reliability of decisions. It is therefore important for scholars and practitioners to understand how to engineer work environments that, to the degree possible, enable employees to bring down both types of risks. However, our understanding of this issue ...


The Perception And Evaluation Of Visual Beauty, Teresa K. Pegors Jan 2014

The Perception And Evaluation Of Visual Beauty, Teresa K. Pegors

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

What are the perceptual and cognitive processes that underlie our experiences of beauty? In this dissertation, I describe a series of experiments where we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioral methods to explore the mechanisms of perception, reward representation, and decision-making during evaluations of face and place beauty. In our first study, we used fMRI to ask whether evaluative signals in frontal cortex contain category-specific information or whether these signals are encoded as a "common currency" across reward types. By comparing neural activity correlated with subjective ratings of face and place beauty, we showed overlapping activity in dorsal ...


Melody As Prosody: Toward A Usage-Based Theory Of Music, Thomas Mathew Pooley Jan 2014

Melody As Prosody: Toward A Usage-Based Theory Of Music, Thomas Mathew Pooley

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

MELODY AS PROSODY: TOWARD A USAGE-BASED THEORY OF MUSIC

Thomas M. Pooley

Gary A. Tomlinson

Rationalist modes of inquiry have dominated the cognitive science of music over the past several decades. This dissertation contests many rationalist assumptions, including its core tenets of nativism, modularity, and computationism, by drawing on a wide range of evidence from psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, and cognitive music theory, as well as original data from a case study of Zulu song prosody. An alternative biocultural approach to the study of music and mind is outlined that takes account of musical diversity by attending to shared cognitive mechanisms ...


Socially Connecting And Socially Distancing Consumer Choices, Cindy Chan Jan 2014

Socially Connecting And Socially Distancing Consumer Choices, Cindy Chan

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Can people use consumption to manage their social relationships? Across three essays, this dissertation explores why and how people make consumer choices that socially connect or distance themselves from others. Essay 1 examines how motives to signal social identity and uniqueness can lead people to make choices that both connect and distance them from other members of their social group. People are often conflicted between wanting to fit in and be different. This research demonstrates how consumers simultaneously satisfy competing motives for group identification and individual uniqueness along different dimensions of choice, thus allowing them to be similar and different ...


Clinical Correlates And Cognitive Underpinnings Of Uncontrollable Worry, Lauren S. Hallion Jan 2014

Clinical Correlates And Cognitive Underpinnings Of Uncontrollable Worry, Lauren S. Hallion

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Uncontrollable anxious thought characterizes a number of emotional disorders and has been linked to impaired emotional and physical health. The present research aimed to clarify the nature of uncontrollable worry as a clinical and cognitive construct. Chapter 1 evaluated uncontrollability of worry as a diagnostic criterion for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This study was conducted in response to the proposed removal of the "uncontrollability of worry" requirement from the diagnostic criteria for GAD in DSM-5. Uncontrollability of worry incrementally predicted an array of clinical severity indicators--including GAD severity, co-occurrence of other mood and anxiety disorders, and treatment utilization--over and above ...


Children's Understanding Of Internal Conflicting Desires: Developmental Changes, Cultural Influences And Links With Socioemotional Development, Fan Yang Jan 2014

Children's Understanding Of Internal Conflicting Desires: Developmental Changes, Cultural Influences And Links With Socioemotional Development, Fan Yang

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Having internal conflicting desires is a frequent life experience. Despite the abundant literature on children's understanding of simple mental states, little is known about their reasoning about conflicting desires. Across six studies, from developmental, social-cognitive and cross-cultural perspectives, the present dissertation investigates the development of understanding internal conflicts, sociocultural influences in its development, as well as its links with children's socioemotional development. In Part 1, to examine the development of understanding conflicting desires, 4- to 7-year-old U.S. children were told stories in which the character had an overall goal (e.g., lose weight) and a conflicting immediate ...


The New Normal: Families, Caretakers, And Adults With Autism, Benjamin Dicicco-Bloom Jan 2014

The New Normal: Families, Caretakers, And Adults With Autism, Benjamin Dicicco-Bloom

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Over the last several decades, the clinical prevalence of autism has increased considerably, as has the amount of popular and scientific attention directed towards the condition. However, discussions of autism tend to focus on children and finding a cause and a cure, while the growing numbers of adults diagnosed with autism have received relatively little attention. This dissertation begins with the argument that popular representations of autism are shaped by the idealism of modern medicine, and its overriding search to discover etiologies and treatments for all forms of biological difference that fall within its purview. And yet, for those responsible ...


The Role Of Non-Cognitive Skills In Students' Academic Performance And Life Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Study Of Resilience, Rui Yang Jan 2014

The Role Of Non-Cognitive Skills In Students' Academic Performance And Life Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Study Of Resilience, Rui Yang

Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations

Research has shown the importance of resilience by demonstrating its significant relationship with students' academic achievement, future workplace performance, and subjective well-being. However, few studies distinguish among different definitions of resilience or distinct approaches of measuring resilience. Also there is little evidence obtained from longitudinal studies involving multiple methods in assessing resilience skills. The current study is able to overcome those limitations and make substantial progress toward the use of resilience scales and the understanding of the predictive power of resilience.

Placing resilience into a broader context of non-cognitive skills, the author identifies four groups of definitions of resilience and ...