News

New Hire Staff Spotlight P&N welcomes new staff member Sarah Broz as its Research Administration Specialist, a new position within the department. Broz was hired during the time of COVID-19 and she shares a bit about her first weeks at Duke along with a bit about her personal interests. Can you describe your first weeks at Duke? “I started during COVID-19 when the majority of Duke employees worked from home, so it was an unusual start. I immediately video-conferenced with… read more about Sarah Broz joins staff as Research Administration Specialist »

In the summer of 2020, the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience issued a charge to form the P&N Task Force on Diversity, Inclusion, and Climate. As its first act, The Task Force created the Stella Powell-Williams Award, using internal support to supplement selected grants submitted as part of a special call for graduate and postdoctoral research projects related to identity, diversity, inclusion, equity, and thriving. The Task Force created this award… read more about Task Force announces recipients of the 2020 Stella Powell-Williams Award »

With generous support from The Charles Lafitte Foundation, the recently-formed P&N Task Force on Diversity, Inclusion, and Climate is assisting the department with redirecting funds previously designated for (now-prohibited) travel toward support for small and large graduate and postdoctoral research projects related to identity, diversity, inclusion, equity, and thriving. The Task Force crafted a special call to highlight the wide range of research topics that would… read more about P&N graduate students awarded funding for psychological research related to identity, diversity, inclusion, equity, and thriving »

Felipe De Brigard, the Fuchsberg-Levine Family Associate Professor of philosophy and psychology and neuroscience, explains that nostalgia doesn’t need real memories because an imagined will suffice. Read the article at Aeon. read more about Nostalgia Reimagined »

Congratulations to the undergraduate student participants of the 2020 Vertical Integration Program (VIP) — an annual summer research program for Duke University Psychology majors. The 2020 program was a unique experience due to the research restrictions set in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All research efforts, as well as the concluding poster session, were held virtually. Beginning in May, VIP students conducted research with P&N graduate students and faculty mentors, and the program concluded… read more about 2020 Vertical Integration Program (VIP) concludes with virtually presented poster session »

Different use of brain circuits may help explain the tenacity of post-traumatic stress Published: June 29, 2020 in Duke Today by Karl Leif Bates DURHAM, N.C. – Your brain handles a perceived threat differently depending on how close it is to you. If it’s far away, you engage more problem-solving areas of the brain. But up close, your animal instincts jump into action and there isn’t as much reasoning, like when the guy at the haunted house jumps up right next to you. And that, according to a new… read more about New Study from the Lab of Professor Kevin LaBar Reveals that Closer Threats Inspire a More Primitive Kind of Fear »

Writing with May Ling Halim, Sarah Gaither, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, explains psychological research that shows discussions about race are essential in reducing bias in both children and parents. Read the article at NBC News. read more about How to Raise Anti-racist Babies, According to Psychology »

It's Okay to Rest Your Brain -- Even in a Pandemic by Jonathan Black, published June 22, 2020  A small square of gray paint in Sofia Rydin-Gray’s home symbolizes her realization that being productive had taken on a whole new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sofia Rydin-Gray, right, and her 11-year-old daughter Nelly take a walk around their neighborhood. She painted the mark in March when she planned to switch her 11-year-old daughter Nelly’s room from beige to a dark gray. By June, the only… read more about Disrupted Focus and Lower Energy are the Brain’s Response to the Pandemic »

DURHAM, N.C. – The neighborhood a child grows up in may influence their health for years to come in previously invisible ways. A long-term study of 2,000 children born in England and Wales and followed to age 18 found that young adults raised in communities marked by more economic deprivation, physical dilapidation, social disconnection and danger display differences in the epigenome -- the proteins and chemical compounds that regulate the activity of their genes. The researchers say the study lends support to the… read more about Adolescents From Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Show Gene Regulation Differences »

On June 15, 2020, the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience announced the official creation of a faculty-led task force for planning and actions around diversity, inclusion, and climate. In a message to the community, department Chair Scott Huettel stated, "We are calling this a task force rather than a committee for two reasons: (a) we want to emphasize the need for action, and (b) we want these topics to not just be the province of one committee, but embedded in all department activities." The task… read more about Psychology & Neuroscience Department Creates Anti-Racist Task Force »

Professor Michael Tomasello has been selected as the 2021 recipient of the Eleanor Maccoby Award in Developmental Psychology for his book, Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny.    The Maccoby Award is presented to the author of a book in the field of psychology that has had or promises to have a profound effect on one or more of the areas represented by Division 7, including promoting research in the field of developmental psychology; fostering the development of researchers through providing… read more about Michael Tomasello Receives Eleanor Maccoby Award in Developmental Psychology  »

Everyone Is Talking About Race Right Now. But How And For How Long? By Stacia Brown & Anta Rao, June 11, 2020, Embodied Series, WUNC, The State of Things Sarah Gaither, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke, discusses interracial conversations about race and racism with NPR host Anita Rao. Listen here (35:27) Nationwide protests against the police killing of George Floyd are still underway, and they have reignited discourse around race and racism… read more about Navigating Cross-Racial Conversations in a Time of Civil Unrest  »

Sarah Gaither, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, studies race, gender, identity development, stereotyping and social perceptions. In collaboration with May Ling Halim at California State University, Long Beach, as well as Kristina Olson at Princeton, Yarrow Dunham at Yale, and Kristin Pauker at the University of Hawaii, Gaither is embarking on a National Science Foundation-funded study, looking at the racial and gender biases in children of many racial groups across five geographical… read more about Finding Comfort in Discomfort: How Children form Racist Attitudes and What Parents Can do to Prevent Racism »

Sarah Gaither, Assistant Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience, explains the science behind how dogs help us cope. Read more at Psychology Today. read more about I Got a Pandemic Dog That Also Helps Me Process Racism  »

Studies of Brain Activity Aren't as Useful as Scientists Thought, By Karl Leif Bates, Published June 3, 2020  Hundreds of published studies over the last decade have claimed it's possible to predict an individual’s patterns of thoughts and feelings by scanning their brain in an MRI machine as they perform some mental tasks. But a new analysis by some of the researchers who have done the most work in this area finds that those measurements are highly suspect when it comes to drawing conclusions about any… read more about Professor Ahmad Hariri Reanalyzes Years of Functional MRI Data »

In response to the changed research climate in the era of COVID-19, the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience put out a special call for Graduate/Postdoctoral Research Awards: Psychological Research related to COVID-19.  With generous support from The Charles Lafitte Foundation, funds that were  was previously designated for now prohibited conference attendance and travel were redirected to support small research projects related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has raised… read more about P&N Graduates Awarded Funding for Psychological Research Related to COVID-19 »

Hundreds of published studies over the last decade have claimed it's possible to predict an individual’s patterns of thoughts and feelings by scanning their brain in an MRI machine as they perform some mental tasks. But a new analysis by some of the researchers who have done the most work in this area finds that those measurements are highly suspect when it comes to drawing conclusions about any individual person’s brain. Watching the brain through a functional MRI machine (fMRI) is still great for finding the general brain… read more about Studies of Brain Activity Aren’t as Useful as Scientists Thought »

COVID-19 is bringing new scientific, behavioral and cultural challenges every day. The DIBS Faculty Network consists of 200 interdisciplinary neuroscience researchers from across Duke’s Schools of Medicine, Nursing,  and Law; Pratt School of  Engineering, Fuqua School of Business, and Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. Their research can help us understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is influencing people’s decision-making, behavior, choices, and physical and mental health. The following faculty interviews offer an… read more about COVID-19: A Neuroscience Perspective »

Members of the Yin Lab including Ryan Hughes, Konstantin Bakhurin, Elijah Petter, Glenn Watson, Namsoo Kim, Alexander Friedman, and Henry Yin have published a new paper on the functional significance of dopamine in the journal Current Biology.  Despite decades of research, the exact function of dopamine remains controversial.  While many believe that it encodes a reward prediction error (RPE), the Yin Lab's reseach demonstrates in the paper that it actually reflects the impulse vector: the force… read more about Yin Lab Publishes Paper in Current Biology: Ventral Tegmental Dopamine Neurons Control the Impulse Vector during Motivated Behavior »

Each year, Duke recognizes one graduating senior and one member of the faculty, staff or graduate student body for their outstanding commitment to service to others by awarding them the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. This year's Sullivan Award winners are Dorothy Grace Smith, a senior studying neuroscience at Trinity College, and Dr. Christopher Ryan Kelsey, a radiation oncology specialist and faculty member of Duke’s School of Medicine. Both honorees received a framed certificate and medallion from Duke University Provost… read more about 2020 Sullivan Award Winners Embody Selflessness and Service »

The award gives Katherine Becker the opportunity to study global security and borders at Queen’s University Belfast beginning in fall 2020. By Carla Burkhard / Office of Scholars and Fellows, Duke University, Published May 19, 2020 Duke alumna Katherine Becker, Trinity ’17, has been awarded the Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Peace and Reconciliation. The award provides a full tuition-fee waiver to an exceptional female student from the United States who wishes to pursue study in a… read more about Psychology Alum Katherine Becker Receives Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Peace and Reconciliation »

Duke alumna Katherine Becker, Trinity ’17, has been awarded the Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Peace and Reconciliation. The award provides a full tuition-fee waiver to an exceptional female student from the United States who wishes to pursue study in a field related to politics, conflict transformation or human rights at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. This is the second year the award has been offered. Becker is the sole recipient of the award for 2020-2021. She will use her award to complete a master of… read more about Duke Alum Wins Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Peace and Reconciliation »

The Psychology & Neuroscience department honors the accomplishments of the Costanzo Teaching Fellows (TFs), a group of outstanding undergraduate students who were selected to gain teaching and mentorship experience in Introductory Psychology (PSY 101), one of Duke’s largest undergraduate courses. The Costanzo TFs plan and lead sections for the PSY 101 class, as well as provide one-on-one mentorship to students on a semester-long research and writing project. Although all of the Costanzo TFs are deeply… read more about Costanzo Teaching Fellow Program Honors Outstanding Undergraduate Teachers »

Congratulations to Ceren Ebrem, winner of the 2020 Karl E. Zener Award. This award is given annually to an undergraduate psychology major at Duke University who has shown outstanding performance and scholarship, as determined on the basis of both the honors thesis (evaluated by a committee of faculty members) and the total academic record. As part of her study, Mindsets Through Language: Implications of Inferred Mindsets for Student Experience, Ceren was hoping to find if students’ intelligence mindsets could be… read more about Ceren Ebrem wins 2020 Zener Award »

Published by Duke Graduate School; written by Julian Daly, Communications Intern Intelligent. Clever. Bright. Smart. Odds are many Duke students have heard those words applied to them. Yet, what happens when you take thousands of smart people and throw them onto one campus where social comparison and feelings of imposter syndrome run rampant? “I think I am intelligent, however, I often question if I am smart enough to be at Duke.” “I believe myself to be intelligent, but only in certain disciplines…”read more about Ph.D. Students Explore Duke Undergrads’ Mindsets about Intelligence »

“I've had so many people tell me over the last few weeks that they feel like they’re losing their identity,” said Sherilynn Black, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement. “The work that they do—their teaching, research, scholarship—is so much of what makes them who they are.” Responding to the needs of faculty during the coronavirus pandemic, Black and her colleagues in Duke’s Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement are adjusting their programming with topics ranging from virtual student engagement and… read more about Duke Faculty Reexamine Their Roles as Scholars and Mentors in an Uncertain Time »

Fifteen Duke Ph.D. students have received prestigious awards from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) for 2020. Launched in 1952, the GRFP is the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind. It supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing Ph.D. or research-based master’s degrees. Fellows receive a three-year stipend, coverage of tuition and fees, and opportunities for international research and… read more about 15 Ph.D. Students Receive Prestigious NSF Fellowships »

After an unprecedented semester caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Duke University delayed its formal commencement ceremony while Marking the Moment virtually campus-wide. This year, more than 1,800 undergraduate students received their bachelor’s degrees, and more than 4,000 completed master’s and doctoral work. In a message to Psychology and Neuroscience graduating seniors, Scott Huettel, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, stated: "… read more about Class of 2020 Celebrates by "Marking the Moment"  »

Bruny Kenou '20 graduated with honors in neuroscience and minors in both psychology and chemistry.  Kenou – a Rubenstein scholar, former research assistant for Edward Levin and Nancy Zucker, and advisee of Minna Ng – now heads to a two-year research fellowship with the National Institutes of Mental Health. Kenou's full feature story below written by Susan Kauffman was published May 8, 2020 in Duke Today. Bruny Kenou: Rubenstein Scholar Speaks Honestly About Student… read more about Honors Neuroscience Student, Bruny Kenou '20, Featured in Duke Today »