Theses (Psychology)

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    A Mixed-Method Approach to Study Friendship Quality and Well-Being
    (2023-12-21) Stepanyan, Maria; Grouzet, Frederick M.E.
    This convergent mixed-methods study investigated a three-facet conceptualization of the quality of friendship, through the lens of self-determination theory, and how this conceptualization interacted with the type of friendship and thus predicted well-being. Previous research has examined the independent relationship between psychological need support, need satisfaction, and motivation on well-being. However, this study proposes that high-quality friendships support an individual’s psychological needs, satisfy an individual’s psychological needs, and are engaged for autonomous reasons. Survey (n = 306) and interview data (n = 19) were collected simultaneously. Quantitative results indicated that the conceptualization of the quality of friendship is valid and associated with well-being. However, the quality of friendship is not associated with the type of friendship and there is no interaction between the two concepts and well-being. Qualitative findings revealed close friendships were of higher quality than casual friendships. This study expands the friendship literature and offers an alternative measure of the quality of friendship.
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    Contextualizing Shame: The Importance of Culture and Discrimination in the Study of Self-Conscious Emotions
    (2023-12-21) Collardeau, Fanie; Woodin, Erica M.
    Within Western psychology, shame is often seen as a maladaptive and hard to regulate selfconscious emotion. Yet, there is some emerging evidence that our knowledge of shame, and the emotion itself, are deeply influenced by cultural assumptions. I first start by providing a critical review of the literature on shame, highlighting differing, culturally-informed conceptualizations of shame in the West and in China and Taiwan. This review also highlights the potential role of social threats and discrimination in the social construction of shame for individuals. Study One then qualitatively explores the beliefs about shame and coping strategies used by Pakistani immigrants to Canada, without imposing a Western lens. Study Two tests two common assumptions about shame (i.e., shame and guilt are two distinct, separate emotions; past experiences of discrimination do not need to be systematically included) present in Western psychology in a Canadian (i.e., Western) sample. While shame is an innate emotional experience, findings suggest that shame and guilt may not be two fully distinct and separate emotions, and that past experiences of discrimination are positively associated with feelings of inferiority present in state shame.
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    Why Does Nature Immersion Positively Impact Well-Being? The Role of Organismic Valuing Process Activation
    (2023-12-21) Francescangeli, Sabrina; Grouzet, Frederick M. E.
    Past research has overwhelmingly noted that nature immersion is related to a multitude of positive outcomes, including well-being. Yet, why nature is positively associated with well-being is less well-known. We hypothesized one explanation for this relationship could be that nature immersion activates the organismic valuing process (OVP), which, in turn, leads to greater well-being; specifically, we predicted that individuals in the most nature-immersive condition would report both the highest OVP activation and well-being. Participants were randomly assigned to walk a route at the University of Victoria (UVic) for five consecutive days in one of four possible conditions of nature immersion: inside a building, outside on campus, in a display garden, or on a nature trail. Participants took a post-walk survey at the end of each walk, measuring OVP activation, and a post-navigation survey at the end of the week measuring well-being. We found that nature immersion was significantly associated with eudaimonic well-being, but only when OVP activation mediated this relationship. Otherwise, the relationship between nature immersion and well-being was not significant. This study contributes to the sparse literature operationalizing OVP activation and nature as a continuum.
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    A pilot and feasibility study evaluating the mechanisms and outcomes of neurofeedback-assisted mindfulness meditation training
    (2023-11-16) Viczko, Jeremy; Smart, Colette
    BACKGROUND: Neurofeedback (NF) has been used for cognitive optimization in non-clinical populations and for therapeutic and rehabilitative purposes in clinical populations, as have mindfulness meditation (MM) training programs. Recent commercial and clinical applications include using NF to help support novice mindfulness meditators in their meditative training. The premise is that NF may help novices learn to meditate more quickly and effectively by providing objective feedback on their brain state during practice. The untested assumption is that novice meditators will therefore also gain desirable cognitive, emotional, and health benefits associated with MM training more quickly, effectively, or perhaps even more robustly. Both NF and MM techniques centrally involve training attention and self-regulation abilities, suggesting some neural mechanistic overlap that could be capitalized on in their combination. However, which aspects of training benefit from, or otherwise interact with the addition of NF with MM practice, and through what psychological (e.g., motivation, expectancy, training experiences) or neurocognitive (e.g., attention, meta-awareness, executive functions) mechanisms, are important questions yet to be investigated by well-controlled studies. OBJECTIVES: Broadly, the aims of this dissertation project were to: (1) create a feasible MM+NF training protocol to evaluate against MM alone, (2) evaluate which neurocognitive domains of function involved in MM training are enhanced (or interfered with) by adjunctive NF, and (3) understand the psychological or neural mechanisms driving any additional improvements in skill or well-being resulting from MM+NF training compared to MM alone. METHODS: A sample of emerging adults (n = 28) with no prior meditation experience were randomly assigned to either a MM-Only, MM+NF, or MM+Sham NF in-lab training condition. The meditation training was for 8 consecutive days, alternating in days between in-lab experimentally assigned meditation condition and at-home practice of a 20-minute breath-focused concentrative mindfulness meditation. A multimethod approach was employed for evaluating participant experiences and outcomes that involved electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings, neurocognitive tests, and self-report measures. RESULTS: Training conditions were highly comparable across all key efficacy, mechanism, and experiential outcome measures. All groups similarly improved in self-reported psychological wellness and cognitive outcomes across training, with effects largely sustained at a 10-day follow-up. For neurocognitive testing, groups were also comparable in performance. All training conditions showed increased speed and accuracy, concomitant with higher intraindividual variability of reaction times post-training. No EEG changes were found in pre/post resting state recordings or for in-lab meditations recorded across training. CONCLUSIONS: Results support feasibility of the study design and acceptability of the training procedures. MM training was not significantly improved or worsened with the integration of real and sham NF. However, the final sample size was underpowered to adequately delineate medium-to-small effect sizes for primary efficacy and mechanistic measures. The strengths and limitations of this study offer guidance and recommendations for future work aimed at studying or developing NF-assisted meditation training procedures and protocols.
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    Exploring Psychedelic Usage in Athletes and Attitudes Towards Psilocybin Use in Concussion Recovery
    (2023-10-13) VanderZwaag, Baeleigh; Garcia-Barrera, Mauricio
    Introduction: Given the prevalence of sports-related concussions in athletes across Canada and the United States of America and the debilitating nature of persisting post-concussion symptoms, novel rehabilitation and symptom management approaches are necessary research endeavours. I include a scoping review that I co-authored on the literature pertaining to psilocybin’s effects on cognition and creativity as a precursor to the empirical study of my thesis. This study aims to examine the willingness of the sports community to engage with psilocybin-assisted therapy (PAT) for concussion recovery and the management of persisting post-concussion symptoms (PPCS), while also providing current psychedelic use rates among a sample of athletes and examining the motivations for using psychedelics in this population. Methods: Athletes and sports team staff completed an online survey through Qualtrics with three sections: demographics, substance use history, and attitudes and willingness to use/support PAT for concussion recovery. Path analysis was used to assess direct effects and mediations of age, education, past psychedelic use, personality openness (assessed using the Ten-Item Personality Inventory) knowledge, attitudes, and concussion history (athlete model only). Results: This sample consisted of 175 respondents (n = 85 athletes; n = 90 staff) from Canada and the US. The most common substances used in the past year among athletes were alcohol (90.6%) cannabis (43.6%), and psychedelics (35.8%). However, regular psychedelic use (use > 2 times per week) was quite low in athletes (7.5%). Just over half of our athletes had sustained a concussion at some point in their life with 64.6% of those athletes sustaining two or more concussions. The path analysis for the athlete model revealed significant paths from age to willingness (β = .19, SE = .01, p < .01), knowledge to willingness (β = .37, SE = .14, p < .01), attitudes to willingness (β = .33, SE = .11, p < .01), attitudes to knowledge (β = .34, SE = .12, p < .01), attitudes to psychedelic experience (β = .52, SE = .38, p < .001), and knowledge to psychedelic experience (β = .46, SE = .33, p < .001). There were also significant indirect effects between past psychedelic experience and willingness (β = .17, p < .01), and past psychedelic experience and attitudes (β = .16, p < .01), where knowledge was a mediator between both interactions. The staff path model revealed significant paths from knowledge to willingness (β = .32, SE = .12, p < .01), attitudes to willingness (β = .32, SE = .11, p < .01), attitudes to knowledge (β = .51, SE = .09, p < .001), attitudes to past psychedelic experience (β = .27, SE = .38, p < .01), and knowledge to psychedelic experience (β = .27, SE = .38, p < .01). There was a significant indirect effect between past psychedelic experience and attitudes (β = .14 p < .05) with knowledge as a mediator. Conclusions: The results of the survey found that many athlete respondents used psychedelics in the past year, but few athletes use them regularly. Of psychedelics used, psilocybin is the most commonly used and athletes reported using psychedelics primarily for personal improvement and mood enhancement. The results of the path analysis suggest that knowledge of psilocybin and attitudes towards psilocybin are predictive of both athlete and staff willingness to use or support PAT. These findings suggest that it may be feasible for researchers to begin clinical studies to examine if psilocybin has any effect on concussion recovery and PPCS.
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    The Influence of Parent Child Attachment and Parenting on Children's Emotion Regulation and Psychosocial Adjustment
    (2023-08-31) Quistberg, Kirsten; Mueller, Ulrich
    Emotion dysregulation is a transdiagnostic factor in the development of psychopathology (see, Aldao et al., 2010). Given that the caregiving environment is the primary context for children’s emotional development (Cooke, Kochendorfer, Stuart-Parrigon, & Koehn, 2019), parenting behaviours have the unique potential to improve children’s emotion regulation and prevent the development of psychopathology in their children. Previous research has demonstrated the importance of parent-child attachment security (see, (Cooke, Kochendorfer, Stuart-Parrigon, & Koehn, 2019) and parent emotion socialization behaviours (see, Mirabile et al., 2018) for children’s emotional development. Extant research purports that securely attached children have improved emotion regulation skills and fewer symptoms of psychosocial maladjustment (Bowlby, 1969; Fearon et al., 2010; Groh et al., 2012). Similarly, parent emotion socialization behaviours, particularly parental responses to children’s negative emotions, has been linked to children’s emotion regulation capacity (Breaux et al., 2018a) and internalizing and externalizing symptoms (e.g., Bendezú et al., 2018; Suveg et al., 2008). Despite the clear connections between these aspects of parenting and child outcomes, these variables have not been integrated into a comprehensive model. In addition, a specific response to children’s negative emotions, namely emotional invalidation, has been associated with emotion dysregulation and mental illness in adulthood (Linehan, 2018); yet, the role of emotional invalidation on children’s concurrent emotional well-being remains unknown. Furthermore, it is unclear if there are different parenting profiles, based on dimensions of parent emotion socialization behaviours, including supportive versus unsupportive and validating versus invalidating responses to children’s negative emotions, that bolster or hinder children’s emotional development. The current dissertation addresses these gaps in the literature, proposing and empirically evaluating an original Emotion-Focused Parenting Model, and clarifying how specific aspects of attachment and parenting behaviours influence children’s concurrent emotional development. One hundred and eighteen mother-child (6-10 years) dyads (completed this two-part study. Part 1 involved a series of parent completed online questionnaires about parent and child emotion regulation capacity and general parent and child mental health. Part 2 involved parent-child interaction tasks (i.e., Snakes and Ladders game) played online to measure emotional validation, as well as a brief child attachment interview. Ten Bayesian Structural Equation Models (SEM) were run to evaluate various aspects of the Emotion Focused Parenting Model. Across all Bayes path models, parent-child attachment security was found to be a non-significant factor. Based on the results of Bayes Path Models, using default priors( N(0,10)), there was evidence for an original Emotion-Focused Parenting Model which supports the role of parenting behaviours (e.g., supportiveness and emotion validation) on children’s emotion regulation (or emotional lability and negativity) and subsequent psychosocial adjustment There were significant indirect associations between mothers’ emotion socialization behaviours (supportiveness and unsupportiveness) on children’s psychosocial adjustment (total behaviour problems, internalizing and externalizing symptoms) via children’s emotion regulation capacity. The role of emotion validation on children’s emotion regulation and psychosocial adjustment remains unclear, given the inconsistency in direct associations between these variables across models. Latent profile analysis revealed a four-profile solution, including: “bear” parent (high supportiveness/low validation; 24.37%), “orca” parent (high supportiveness/moderate validation; 26.89%), “eagle” parent (low supportiveness/high validation; 36.97%) and “wolf” parent (low supportiveness/low validation; 10.08%). Overall, parent emotion socialization behaviours, specifically supportive and validating responses to children’s negative emotions, were found to be critical to children’s concurrent emotion regulation and psychosocial adjustment. Of note, mother’s anxiety and depressive symptoms are key factors to consider in their emotion regulation capacity (and thus parent ability to model and respond to children’s emotions). Future research should investigate the prospective relations between these parenting behaviours and child emotion-related outcomes over the course of early development.
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    Understanding Mentoring Relationships during and after COVID-19 Restrictions from the Perspective of Mentors: A Community-Engaged Participatory Approach
    (2023-08-30) Elgharbawy, Heba; Ames, Megan
    Amidst the unprecedented challenges and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, youth and young adults have experienced a great deal of stress and challenges. Youth mentorship has been an important resource for many youths and has been shown to be a protective factor against such troubling times. However, mentors’ experiences during the pandemic and its impact on their ability to support youth remains unclear. By fostering resilience and positive outcomes in youth through mentorship, these efforts contribute to the overall well-being and empowerment of youth. This study aimed to understand the impact of COVID-19 on mentorships and mentor experiences, barriers and facilitators of mentorship and virtual mentorship, and the impact of inequity, compatibility, and diversity on mentoring relationships. In partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada, this qualitative study analyzed 20 mentors’ perspectives and experiences within these relationships and how they navigated the pandemic personally and while supporting their young mentee. Five major themes were constructed based on these interviews including; how mentors and mentees maintained their relationships despite the challenges and changing circumstances of the pandemic, personal benefits of mentorship, technological limitations and disparities in access to technology that made virtual mentorship less preferable, how support from those outside of the mentorship including parents and the mentorship program can impact the relationship, and the crucial role of compatibility and cultural discussions in mentorship. These findings have important implications for mentoring organizations including guiding the development of adaptive programs and policies to better support mentors and mentees in navigating challenging circumstances.
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    Examining Patterns of Specificity, Generality, and Interindividual Differences in Preschoolers’ Creativity
    (2023-08-29) Cieslik, Violet; Mueller, Ulrich
    Creativity is a multifaceted construct that develops in a variety of different modalities. Previous research suggested that creativity is a domain-specific skill in school children and adults; however, the structure of creativity in preschoolers and whether it is domain-specific or domain-general is unclear. This study had three main goals, (1) to examine the overall structure of creativity, (2) determine whether preschool creativity is domain-specific or domain-general, and (3) address associations between preschoolers’ leisure time activities (i.e., screen time and play), preschool environment, and creative ability. Eighty-three preschoolers between the ages of four and five years (Mage 4.40 years) participated in this study. Creativity was measured with four performance-based measures: Torrance Test of Creative Thinking – Figural (TTCT-F), the Torrance Thinking Creatively in Action and Movement (TACM), the Alternative Use Task (AUT), and the Ball and Jar Task. Leisure activity was measured with an online parental questionnaire that included the SCREENS-Q (Klakk et al., 2020) and the Time Diary: Daily Activities Questionnaire (DAQ; Lehrer et al., 2014). Preschool environment was measured with the number of structured daily activities in the preschool schedule. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) findings revealed four unique domains of creativity (verbal, non-verbal, motor/explorative, and figural) that were not correlated with each other, suggesting that preschool creativity is a domain-specific skill. Higher amounts of structured daily activities within the preschool environment were associated with lower scores of non-verbal creativity. These results shed light on the structure and validity of behavioural measures of creativity and contribute to the conceptualization and assessment of creativity in early childhood. Findings also reveal the importance of unstructured environments in preschool creativity.
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    Examining Cultural Differences in Recognition Memory Response Bias: An Extension of the MBBE
    (2023-08-11) Hawily, Majd Z; Lindsay, D. Stephen
    According to signal detection theory, people tested on an old/new recognition memory test adopt a liberal, conservative, or neutral response criterion. Several prior studies in our lab demonstrated that subjects showed a clear conservative bias when presented with complex images (e.g., paintings, photographs of scenes) as stimuli. When stimuli were English words, bias tended to be liberal or neutral. The reasons for these materials-based differences in response bias remain ambiguous. Our efforts have focused on understanding response bias variation across materials and individuals. Specifically, we have explored whether Canadian and Japanese participants show differences in response bias for new materials called “diffeomorphs”. We conducted an earlier study with Lebanese participants with a smaller sample and materials size that served as a pilot study for our later studies. The materials-based bias effect cannot be applied to all visual stimuli because, even though both pictures and diffeomorphs are visual stimuli, the response bias for each is different. For example, we found that while Japanese elicit a conservative bias for diffeomorphs, Canadians have a neutral response bias. Besides the observed cross-cultural difference in response bias, this work refuted the hypothesis that novelty, colorfulness, and richness are behind the MBBE. It seemed that neither the semantics (line drawings) nor the colorfulness (diffeomorphs) of the stimuli appear to generate a bias towards conservatism. The MBBE and its cross-cultural generalization have been better understood because of the fresh insights offered by this thesis.
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    Within-Person Dynamics between Lifestyle Factors and Cognitive Functioning using Accelerometer-Determined Physical Activity and Mobile Cognitive Assessments
    (2023-08-10) Vendittelli, Rebecca; Hofer, Scott M.
    The Canadian population is fundamentally changing such that the proportion of seniors is expected to be one in four by 2030 (Government of Canada, 2014). This shift will undoubtedly be accompanied by a surge in the prevalence of age-related health issues, including cognitive decline and dementia. Compounded by increased life expectancy, this demographic change is expected to overwhelm the health care system (Wister & Speechley, 2015) and have grave economic impact (Wimo et al., 2013, 2017). As such, researchers have endeavoured to find innovative and efficient solutions that are preventative, rather than reactive. Lifestyle interventions, such as physical activity (PA) and stress reduction, have gained ample support for their role in protecting against cognitive decline. In tandem, digital cognitive assessment tools have also been developed to support the anticipated demand for efficient screening. Also known as mobile assessments, this state-of-the-art technology can simultaneously assess contextual, psychosocial, and lifestyle factors along with cognition. In this way, a nuanced understanding of the temporal association between cognition and lifestyles variables may be explored. To date, however, there is little research examining these relationships. Chapter 1 reviews psychometric evidence for mobile cognitive assessments and their efficacy in measuring cognitive functioning and daily variability, as well as provides results of a psychometric replication study. Both Chapters 2 (focusing on PA) and 3 (focusing on stress) look at between-person and within-person differences regarding how these lifestyle factors influence cognitive performance. More specifically, Chapter 2 presents results on the relationship between daily variation in PA and cognition, and Chapter 3 examines the relationship between momentary and daily stress and cognition. Chapter 4 provides a brief summary of potential clinical implications for advances in mobile and remote cognitive assessments and potential for lifestyle interventions.
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    Sex Differences in White Matter Microstructure and Cognition in Healthy Aging
    (2023-08-02) Ohlhauser, Lisa; Gawryluk, Jodie R.
    As the global population of older adults increases, it is crucial to study the healthy aging brain. Sex and gender are important determinants of health that may impact the aging trajectory, especially since women outlive men in most populations worldwide. To date, most studies examining sex and gender differences in aging have been cross-sectional and have focused on grey matter. In contrast, studies investigating age-related changes in white matter (WM) with longitudinal designs have been limited. The following three studies used available data from the healthy control group of the Parkinson Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) to investigate biological sex differences in WM and cognition, as well as changes in these variables over time. In Study 1, sex differences in WM as measured by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) were examined in a sample of 40 healthy older adults using tract-based spatial statistics. Results showed no significant differences in the most used DTI metrics of fractional anisotropy (FA) or mean diffusivity (MD) when controlling for total brain volume. In Study 2, longitudinal changes in WM were examined in the same healthy older adult sample over a one-year time frame. Stability in both FA and MD were found when examining changes in WM for males and females separately. Findings from Study 2 demonstrate that healthy older adult males and females showed similar stability in WM over a one-year period. In Study 3, longitudinal changes in cognition were examined in 193 healthy control participants from the PPMI. Linear mixed modeling was used to examine within-person change over time and between-person differences in cognition for up to six annual time points. Findings from Study 3 demonstrated that although males and females may have baseline differences in some cognitive domains, both sexes had similar stability in cognition over the five-year study period. Overall, these studies contribute to a growing body of literature examining sex similarities and differences in brain structure and function throughout the normal aging process. This research ultimately aids in the long-term goals of aging research to prevent disease and promote health and well-being into the latter decades of life.
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    Exclusionary Structures: A Multi-Method Analysis of Structural Barriers Against University Students with Mental Health Challenges
    (2023-05-31) Duerksen, Kari; Woodin, Erica M.
    In dominant Canadian culture presently, it is taken for granted that “psy” professionals (e.g., counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists) play a central role in the lives of individuals with mental health challenges. Indeed, much of the knowledge about mental illness is created by such professionals, and focuses on treatment and recovery. This focus has been costly, as it situates suffering within the individual, and ignores structural determinants of well-being. This results in structures that are exclusionary and discriminatory towards individuals with mental health challenges, which in turn makes it challenging for such individuals to achieve positions of power to influence knowledge production and systems. Although many forms of stigma exist, structural stigma refers to the policies of institutions and cultural norms within a society that intentionally or unintentionally limit individuals with mental health challenges’ access to various rights, resources and opportunities. In this dissertation, I examined the presence of structural stigma towards individuals with mental health challenges at the University of Victoria in two studies. I used participatory practices, by having current and former University of Victoria students with mental health challenges as members of the research team throughout. In Study 1, current and former University of Victoria students (n = 275) completed a survey of structural barriers they had encountered, and reported on solutions and supports that were helpful. Seven dimensions of barriers were identified: 1) barriers in mental health care, 2) stigma and negative interpersonal interactions, 3) navigation of services barriers, 4) practical support knowledge barriers, 5) financial barriers, 6) learning barriers, and 7) inappropriate mental health services. Four dimensions of barriers specific to University of Victoria’s Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) were also identified: 1) helpfulness of CAL services, 2) misfit of CAL services, 3) disclosure-related barriers, and 4) CAL administrative barriers. Upon follow-up analyses, these barriers were inequitably distributed, disproportionately impacting marginalized students in various ways. Study 2 consisted of a multi-part World Café focused on barriers related to self-advocacy. Current and former University of Victoria students (n = 21) discussed experiences of self-advocacy and solutions that could improve these barriers in rotating groups. I analyzed the data using thematic analysis, and identified three themes: 1) the structural context of self-advocacy, 2) the relational context of self-advocacy, and 3) rejecting self-advocacy. An additional discussion of short-term recommendations from participants is provided. To close, I reflect on the execution of participatory practices within this dissertation. I also discuss the implications of these results for broader anti-stigma agendas, and argue for community-centered approaches to supporting students with mental health challenges at university. Finally, I discuss the complexities and possibilities of taking action to better support students with mental health challenges at university.
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    The Viability of Web-based Eye Tracking
    (2023-05-26) vanWell, Amy; Tanaka, James William
    The recent COVID-19 pandemic has forced vision scientists to develop innovative, online solutions to their research questions. After the introduction of new open-source software and improvements in personal laptop hardware, researchers have been able to recreate increasingly sophisticated measures online historically only measured in-person. In this paper, we explore the boundaries of online research to describe the development and testing of a new web-based eye tracking system, “Gazer”. Gazer is an accessible eye tracking system for vision scientists that harnesses the open-source Webgazer to record screen-based gaze locations, using the cameras present in participant’s personal laptops. We directly compare Gazer to the established Eyelink 1000 in two separate experiments, and determine it has comparable temporal and spatial precision for recording fast exogenous eye movements, and endogenous movements. In a final experiment, we record the development of gaze strategies in a repeated remote visual search task to indicate Gazer’s potential to address sophisticated attentional research questions. Overall, we present Gazer as a viable method for researchers to conduct gaze-based research online.
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    Reconceptualizing Executive Functions: A Taxometric and Network Approach
    (2023-04-26) Wong, Ryan; Garcia-Barrera, Mauricio A.
    Executive function is a neuropsychological construct that describe a collection of cognitive processes that aid in complex, goal-directed behaviours. In two manuscripts, the underlying assumption of dimensionality in latent variable methods is examined and an alternative conceptual model is discussed. The first manuscript uses two large demographically matched samples to assess the latent structure of two commonly studied executive functions, inhibition and set shifting, using taxometric methods. This study demonstrated latent dimensionality for inhibition and set shifting in both performance-based and behavioural rating measures, providing empirical support for the widespread usage of latent variable methods in typically developing populations across the lifespan. The second manuscript uses the same samples as the first to provide an alternative to latent variable methods when modelling executive functions. Network models were produced using the same data and results are discussed in the context of improvements in theory and clinical utility. Taken together, these manuscripts provide additional impetus for the importance of having strong theoretical reasons for performing specific analyses in executive function research.
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    Friends-first romantic relationship initiation
    (2022-12-23) Lowey, Erin; Stinson, Danu
    Most romantic relationships begin as friendships, a process called friends-first initiation, yet very little research has been devoted to understanding how such relationships form. Instead, research has focused on dating initiation, whereby strangers meet, experience passion, go on dates, and eventually form an emotional and romantic bond. This narrow focus on dating initiation disproportionally emphasizes passionate intimacy as the necessary precursor to pursuing a romantic partner and ignores the bi-directional association between passionate and emotional intimacy. I conducted two studies using qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate how the transition from friendship to romance occurs, with the goal of understanding the relation between passionate and emotional intimacy in this pathway to romance. In Study 1 (N = 24), I used thematic analysis to examine narrative accounts of friends-first initiation, and the resulting themes reflected a progression of increasing emotional intimacy, emerging passionate intimacy (i.e., romantic/sexual feelings), a transition phase (e.g., turning points, uncertainty), and a decision to change the social identity of the relationship from “friends” to “romantic partners.” In Study 2 (N = 476), I compared and contrasted the timeline and feelings of emotional intimacy, passion, and romantic interest for dating initiators and friends-first initiators across 28 relationship milestones. Results revealed important group differences in the pace of romance, the role of friends and family, and sexual experiences. For example, friends-first initiators knew their future partner much longer than dating initiators before romantic courtship began (about two years compared to around two months), and reported a much longer length of courtship than dating initiators (more than two years compared to just under nine months). Friends-first initiators also introduced their partner to their other friends and family much sooner while emotional intimacy, passion, and romantic interest were still developing, whereas dating initiators did not make such introduction until much later when high levels of intimacy were established. Furthermore, although friends-first initiators experienced lower passion and romantic interest than dating initiators when they first met their future partner, friends-first initiators experienced higher passion, emotional intimacy, and romantic interest compared to dating initiators on their first date, and higher emotional intimacy during physical intimacy (e.g., kissing, cuddling, sex). Taken together, my research revealed that dating initiation and friends-first initiation differ in substantive ways that could have implications for longer-term relationship satisfaction, stability, and longevity.
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    Investigating the Neural Correlates of Social and Individual Singing in Persons with Dementia Using Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy
    (2022-12-21) Tamburri, Nicholas; Tanaka, Jim; MacDonald, Stuart Warren Swain
    Introduction: While music interventions for persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD) are increasingly utilized due to their documented cognitive and behavioral benefits, the neurological correlates underlying these advantages are largely unknown and under-researched. Using the advantages of functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), this study provided a preliminary investigation of the neural correlates and functional connectivity (FC) patterns associated with musical performance in both choral and individual contexts for persons with ADRD. Objectives: The objectives were to i) identify within-person patterns of cortical oxygenation in choral and individual singing, ii) explore how singing context (i.e., choral and individual) modulates patterns of functional connectivity (FC) within and across frontal and parietal cortices, and iii) leverage these neurological data as individual differences predictors of cognitive function in a series of discriminant function analyses (DFA). Methods: Participants included 13 persons with ADRD who volunteered from a larger, ongoing social-cognitive choir intervention. fNIRS data was collected via the TechEn Cw6 system, using a sampling frequency of 50 Hz, during both choral and individual singing. Paired sample t-tests were used to evaluate changes in neurological patterns observed across conditions and DFA were used to determine whether these neurological data, when used in conjunction with other gold-standard individual differences predictors, were predictive of between-person differences in cognitive impairment (proxied by performance on the Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE]). Results: Significant differences in cerebral oxygenation were identified in the right anterior PFC (BA10), corresponding to one channel of the fNIRS frontal array; specifically, individual singing was associated with significantly greater oxygenation relative to social singing. Moreover, though not significant, individual singing was associated with broad bilateral increases in cortical oxygenation across the majority of fNIRS channels, and increased FC, relative to choral singing. Planned DFA were not significantly predictive of cognitive impairment status. Conclusion: These findings yield tentative support for the notion that individual singing necessitates greater neocortical recruitment for persons with ADRD, and potentially increased FC, which is consistent with a body of literature detailing how increased stress and executive processing – likely enhanced in individual singing – facilitates greater neocortical recruitment. This is the first study to investigate differences in music cognition correlates across environmental contexts for persons with ADRD and may provide preliminary neurological evidence behind the advantages of group music interventions for persons with ADRD. That is, choral singing environments may alleviate the extraneous recruitment of neocortical systems found in individual performance systems which become increasingly impaired with dementia. This study motivates increasing utilization of fNIRS in music neuroscience research, especially in persons with ADRD, aimed at exploring the neurological mechanisms underlying the well-noted benefits of music interventions.
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    Getting a Handle on Meaning: Planned Hand Actions' Influence on the Identification of Handled Objects
    (2022-10-03) Moise, Noah; Bub, Daniel; Masson, Michael
    We confirm that under certain conditions, constituents of motor actions afforded by handled objects play a role in their identification. Subjects held in working memory action plans specifying both the laterality of the hand to be used (left or right) and a wrist orientation (vertical or horizontal). Speeded object identification was impaired when a pictured object matched the action on only one of these two categorical dimensions (e.g., a frying pan with its handle facing left, an action plan involving the right hand and horizontal wrist orientation), relative to when the object matched the action on both dimensions or neither dimension. This phenomenon only occurred for a semantic task (i.e., naming) and significantly weakened when the handled object was named following the naming of a non-handled object. These results imply that, when maintaining the features of planned actions in working memory, identification of the object leads to conflict between components of the action plan and features of the grasp action afforded by the depicted object. When bound to a matching feature, the discrepant features cannot be easily disregarded, and conflict with the features of the target object resulted in delayed identification. Naming a non-handled object first weakens the pragmatic processing generated by attending to the features of the action plans, resulting in less conflict when only one feature matched between the action plan and action afforded by the handled object.
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    Olfaction and Associations with Long-Term Cognitive Transitions and Short-Term Cognitive Variability
    (2022-10-03) Knight, Jamie; Piccinin, Andrea Marie
    Olfactory function plays an important role in health and well-being. Deficits have been associated with a greater risk of cognitive decline, dementia, and death, indicating that olfactory ability may be an early marker of cognitive impairment and indicator of brain integrity. In the progression of cognitive impairment related to dementia, intraindividual variability in cognition may precede cognitive decline as an early risk factor, indicating that individuals with more variability in their cognitive performance may have an increased risk of cognitive impairment. Despite a significant amount of literature examining the relationship between olfaction and cognitive decline, to the best of our knowledge, no study has yet examined whether olfaction is associated with the earlier marker of cognitive decline, intraindividual variability in cognition. Project 1. In data drawn from the Rush Memory and Aging Project (N=1501), multistate models were used to estimate the association of olfactory identification with transition patterns through cognitive states including non-impaired cognitive functioning, clinically diagnosed mild cognitive impairment and dementia, and death. Additionally, multinomial regression models were fit to estimate life expectancies for overall and cognitively unimpaired years of life, relative to olfactory identification scores. This dissertation aims to contribute to the current body of literature suggesting potential for the use of olfactory identification as a clinically administered marker for the early detection of cognitive decline and risk of dementia. Project 2. In data collected by our lab (N=65), multilevel models were used to examine whether olfactory identification scores were associated with the magnitude and rate of change of intraindividual variability (IIV) in cognitive functioning. This dissertation aims to address whether olfactory identification is associated with IIV in cognition using self-administered mobile cognitive testing in a 14-day micro-longitudinal study.
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    Neural mechanisms underlying fast face category and identity processing
    (2022-09-28) Campbell, Alison; Tanaka, James William
    Given the ecological importance of face recognition, it is not surprising that the visual system is capable of processing faces with remarkable efficiency. When presented with a face, information is rapidly extracted to detect and categorize it as a face, followed by face-specific information such as age, gender, and identity. According to cognitive and neural models, the processes underlying face recognition encompass a sequence of steps that begin with a perceptual or visual analysis followed by more image-invariant and identity-selective representations. Importantly, it is only familiar faces for which we have acquired long-term face memories that reach the final stages of identity processing to permit robust, image-invariant behavioural recognition. A key aspect of face processing is that it is fast and automatic. This can be said for both high-level categorization (i.e., detecting that a stimulus is a face) and for encoding at the identity-level. The purpose of these experiments was to use novel electrophysiological and psychophysical techniques to characterize these fast and automatic categorization processes. Experiment 1 and 2 used an implicit visual discrimination paradigm (fast periodic visual stimulation; FPVS) combined with electroencephalography (EEG) to isolate identity-specific neural responses to a personally familiar face, the own-face, and an unfamiliar stranger face. Experiment 1 showed that identity-specific responses recorded over the occipito-temporal region were stronger for a personally familiar face compared to the unfamiliar control identity, while the response to the own-face was even greater than to a personally familiar friend. In Experiment 2, identity-specific responses for a given identity were measured in participants both before and after real-world familiarization. As expected, the results showed a significant increase in the identity-specific response once participants became personally familiar with the test identities. In Experiment 3, we used saccadic eye movements to estimate the lower bounds of the speed of face categorization, and in particular to investigate the question of whether this categorization occurs during early feedforward processing. The results support the view that information needed to detect and selectively respond to face stimuli happens during the earliest visual processing. Collectively, these studies provide additional insight on the mechanisms underlying rapid and automatic face detection and face identity recognition.
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    A Person-Centred Analysis of Triadic Acculturation Gaps in Chinese Canadian Immigrant Families
    (2022-09-22) Li, Jie; Costigan, Catherine
    Past research on the impacts of acculturation gaps among immigrant family members has yielded inconclusive results potentially due to inconsistent analytical methods, lack of consideration of family processes, and discrepant conceptualizations of acculturation. With a sample of 161 Chinese Canadian immigrant families, the current study adopted a person-centred approach with a family lens to examine the nature of acculturation gaps and how these gaps were associated with family functioning and individual psychological adjustment. Latent profile analyses were utilized to generate mother-father-child acculturation profiles based on individual reports of acculturation (in the domains of cultural identity and value, separately) from mothers, fathers, and children in the same family. The results identified five family acculturation profiles in the identity domain and four family acculturation profiles in the value domain. Parents’ cultural disengagement was linked to the most positive psychological wellbeing and family relationships for all family members. The expected acculturation gaps in the Canadian host dimension were not found to be associated with the most depressive symptoms or family conflicts, suggesting that acculturation gaps where adolescents were more acculturated to the host culture than their parents may be normative in immigrant families and thus not linked to youth maladjustment. In contrast, the reversed acculturation gaps in the host dimension and the expected acculturation gaps in the heritage dimension were consistently found to be associated with family conflicts and individual psychological distress. The results also revealed an undifferentiated acculturation style that was not outlined in Berry’s model. An undifferentiated style was characterized by average acculturation levels on both the heritage and host dimensions, and it was the most prevalent individual acculturation style in the identity domain and the second most prevalent style in the value domain. Directions for future research and the benefits of using a person-centered approach in the research of acculturation gaps are discussed.