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Postbac Seminar Series: September 14, 2017

Series: Science Skills; Speaking

Sep 14, 2017

This event is recommended for: Postbacs.

Science isn't complete until the results have been shared with others, and talking about your results is one of the important ways of making them public. The Postbac Seminar Series provides a unique opportunity for two Postbacs each month to present their research to a diverse audience of their peers.  The atmosphere is relatively informal and non-threatening.  The series allows Postbacs who attend to learn about the different types of biomedical research being conducted at the NIH while meeting other postbacs.  Read more about the seminar series.

This month's presenters are:

Elizabeth Hall, NIMH

Title: Quantifying the resolution and capacity of memory during free recall of real-world visual scenes

Summary: Prior research has shown that visual long-term recognition memory has a massive storage capacity for object details, with participants able to maintain detailed representations of thousands of images. However, little work has examined the capacity and resolution of free recall for complex visual images, in spite of evidence that recognition and recall may utilize separate neural mechanisms. The current study investigates recall of real-world scenes, and how this relates to recognition-based metrics of memory (i.e., image memorability). In the current study, we leverage online crowd-sourcing (on Amazon Mechanical Turk), and recruit thousands of blind scorers to assess the memory capacity and detail for drawings. Using these methods, we unveil an impressive capacity and amount of detail in visual long-term recall, and uncover exciting new questions for exploration using objective measures of drawings done from memory.

Bio: Elizabeth graduated from Bennington College in 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology and completed an M.Sc in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Language from the University of the Basque Country in June 2016. Joining NIH in August 2016, she has participated in different collaborative projects under the guidance of Dr. Chris Baker in the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition in the NIMH.


Corinne April I. Conn, NHGRI

Title: Disease Severity Among Sickle Cell Adults: Comparing Patients' Clinical Severity and Quality of Life to Improve Disease Measurement

Summary: Existing severity measures for Sickle Cell Disease(SCD) focus solely on clinical measures. However, non-clinical factors also influence health outcomes and patient quality of life (QoL). Data from the INSIGHTS study, an ongoing study of sickle cell disease leg ulcers, was used to compare a Bayesian network clinical severity (Cln) model with separate composite QoL, psychosocial (PS), and environmental measures (EV). Cln was not highly correlated with QoL, QoL was most closely related to EV measures, followed by PS. Hierarchical clustering based on PS, EV, Cln, and Qol measurements divided our study population into different groups with different scores. From this, we concluded SCD patient disease severity is not captured by the existing clinical severity measures.

Bio: Corinne Conn is in her second year working as part of the Health Disparities Unit (HDU) in the NHGRI's Social and Behavioral Research Branch (SBRB). She studied Global Development and completed her Master's in Public Health at the University of Virginia. Her work surrounds issues of psychological resilience within adults living with SCD, and the convergent descriptive validity of current measurements of disease severity and quality of life within this condition. She is a deferred medical student at the University of California, San Francisco.


Austin Boroshok, NIMH

Title: Sex Differences in Working Memory Across the Pubertal Transition in Typically Developing Children

Summary: Sex differences in working memory [WM]-related neural recruitment are well-documented in adults, but less studied in children. While some developmental investigations on the neurocircuitry of WM have been published, pubertal stage per se is often not defined, hampering insights into how endocrine events shape brain development. To understand the role of pubertal events on WM neurodevelopment, we are conducting a large-scale, longitudinal study on healthy children from pre-pubertal stages through the end of the pubertal transition. Here, we show sex differences in WM that appear in clinician-rated pre-pubertal children, indicating that these differences exist prior to the onset of gonadal sex-steroid hormones. Furthermore, our pubertal group and sex interaction findings indicate that boys increase dlPFC activation throughout puberty and adulthood, while girls decrease during puberty but increase in adulthood. High variability in endocrine events such as estradiol exposure and similar hormonal and metabolic events cite the need for further longitudinal analyses.

Bio: Austin graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2016 with a B.S. in Psychology as a research assistant in Dr. Jack J. Blanchard's Laboratory of Emotion & Psychopathology. At NIMH, he works on projects ranging from pubertal neurodevelopment to functional connectivity and dopamine dysregulation in schizophrenia patients.