Interview with Dr. Proverbio

Alice Mado Proverbio has a degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and a PhD in General Psychology from the University of Padua. She did her Post Doctoral training at the University of California at Davis and at the University of Padua. As a research scientist at the University of Trieste, she guided the Cognitive Electrophysiology Laboratory from 1996 to 2000. Since 2001, she is Associate Professor of Psychobiology and Physiological Psychology at University of Milano-Bicocca. She founded the “Cognitive Electrophysiology” Lab at the same University in 2003. In 2014, she received the Habilitation as full Professor.

What I enjoy most about my job as a researcher …  Without a doubt what I enjoy most about my job as a researcher is the possibility to create and devise new experiments, to test new exciting ideas, to challenge pre-existing models with new hypotheses that I gather from discussions with people, but especially from a lot of reading and listening to insightful talks. It’s not rare that I get, what seems to be, a brilliant idea from reading or listening to scientists working outside my specific research field (cognitive electrophysiology). This can be genetics, evolutionary psychology, cellular biology, primatology or even molecular neuroscience. It can be something on Twitter, or even something that I spotted online. That’s what I like most: the creative process that precedes the actual experimental testing.

I also like that magic moment when, with my young co-workers standing all around my computer, we run the final ANOVA on a particular set of data we judge to be crucial to test our hypothesis. And we are all there, laughing and crossing our fingers, hoping for a high statistical significance, and then it gets p<0.005 and we all scream! I also love when an idea, just an incorporeal dream or a rough sketch at the beginning, but after months of working with my students, and refining details, re-adjusting the methodology, and changing the paradigm and all, finally becomes a consolidated paradigm, a concrete thing, almost a “person”, with a given personality and specific attitudes. We love to coin names for our new studies and paradigms, and stimulus types. Even computers and supplies and ERP components have personalized names in my lab. There are unofficial names (“just for us”) and more official, scientific terms that will be used later in the paper or in the dissertation.

The biggest challenge in my career so far was … there have been several challenging moments in my career, especially when I changed role, by becoming first a PhD student, then a Post-Doc fellow, a Researcher, and finally a Professor. Every passage required great effort in adjusting to the new situation and the many new commitments (not to mention, the new town or country, the new home, the new life, etc..). When I got a PhD student position I had to learn how to speak in public, deliver talks and travel a lot (while I enjoyed running experiments and writing my own papers). When I became a Post-Doc, I had to learn how to manage international relations and cooperate with multiple subjects and research groups. As a researcher, I had to face a lot of new work, mostly coming from student supervision, teaching and writing (books, chapters, papers), not to mention being the only person responsible for the ERP  lab. I often I had to work overnight. Becoming a Professor was very challenging at first, because of the large amount of teaching and lessons that I had to prepare for the first time. I learned how to be a good referee, a wise editor and the best mentor as possible for my students. I learned how to be very efficient with bureaucratic, administrative, and faculty duties, in order to have time for my research and my lab.

One research project I will never forget is…  I will never forget the research project aimed at testing the existence of possible subcortical inter-hemispheric pathways transferring visuomotor information in the brain of callosotomy (split-brain) patients, that I carried out in Ron Mangun’s lab in cooperation with Michel Gazzaniga, at the Center for Neuroscience of University of California at Davis. I had the extraordinary opportunity to test and get to know personally a beautiful person, the famous patient JW. I recall being incredibly excited and proud of my work at that time.

What I look for in a student who wants to work under my supervision … I mainly look for dedication, enthusiasm, patience, competence, rigor and loyalty, not necessarily in that specific order.

Student research could be improved by … I think that student research deserves the right equilibrium between autonomy and supervision. Sometimes I meet bright young researchers presenting poor pieces of evidence or lousy talks because of their inexperience mixed with a lack of supervision from their mentor. Its’ a real pity. Other times, I assist students acting as mere executors of projects they do not fully comprehend and testing hypotheses that they do not even scientifically understand. I think that students should not only perform the practical hands-on work in laboratories, but also do a lot of studying and reading to build a strong specialized knowledge.

Academically, I most admire … woman researchers (especially if independent and not grown under the wings of a powerful male mentor) …  because …. sometimes, they have to work twice as hard as their male colleagues, to prove their qualities. Indeed gender discrimination and inequalities of various types (from the most subtle to the most evident and gross inequalities) are still present at any level along the academic trail.

I wish someone had told me at the beginning of my career … I do not how to answer to this. I think that no advice can teach you better than your own personal experience. But I recall what I was actually being told, which revealed to be very useful in the hard times, and that is: do what you feel is better for you.

The largest changes in psychological science in the next 10 years will be … I am unsure what to predict. But I am pretty sure that the future is linked to a multidisciplinary integration, and that Psychology will grow only in interaction with other scientific disciplines, such as Cognitive Neuroscience, Genetics, Evolutionary Psychology, Cellular Neuroscience, Molecular Biology, Neuroimaging and the new emerging techniques (such as diffusor tensor imaging), and others that are still developing these days such as Brain Computer Interface (BCI), robotics.

Interview with Prof. Csikzentmihalyi

 

Prof. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University and was the former head of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago. He is noted for his research on happiness and creativity, on which he published over 120 scientific articles and book chapters. He is also well known for introducing the concept of flow in his seminal work “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience“. Csikszentmihalyi_Mihaly_WEB

What I enjoy most about my job as a researcher …  two things: the early analysis of data, when you are looking for patterns — exploring the psychological landscape, so to speak. Then the last part, when you start writing and trying to find the best way to express what you have learned.

The biggest challenge in my career so far was … to break out of the two reigning paradigms of my student’s days; the Freudian and the Skinnerian approaches.

One research project I will never forget is… perhaps the few months in 1968 when we started collecting data on the flow experience with a group of students at the college I was teaching at at the  time, Lake Forest College.

What I look for in a student who wants to work under my supervision … besides the obvious ones (academic and intellectual abilities): intrinsic motivation, a sense of humor, lack of excessive egotism.

Student research could be improved by … learning that what matters is engagement in a worth-while project.

Academically, I most admire … my friend Howard Gardner …  because …. he is an unselfish, sophisticated intellectual.

I wish someone had told me at the beginning of my career … how to get financial support for conducting large-scale research — although I probably would have ignored the advice anyway . . .

The largest changes in psychological science in the next 10 years will be … I am not a prophet, alas, so I have no idea. I know that the best-case scenario would be for psychology to focus on human experience, and establish conceptual links with other social sciences like sociology, anthropology, history, economics, and political science . . . The worst-case scenario would be selling out to neurobiology, and becoming a sub-discipline of that field. But I have no clue as to which of these two scenarios will win out in the evolutionary process.


Interview with Dr. Deirdre Barrett

Dr. Deirdre Barret is a researcher and lecturer at Harvard Medical School. She is well known for her research on dreams, hypnosis, and imagery. More recently she has written about evolutionary psychology and technology. She has also written severa successful books for the general public. deirdre barrett outside ucl 3a

What I enjoy most about my job as a researcher …  Any questions I have—in my case about dreams—I can come up with a way to operationalize the question and get an answer. Continue reading

Make the Most of Your Summer: Summer Schools in Europe


11051177_10205216017873360_1194271846_mWhy should you attend Summer Schools?

To put it simply: there is no better way to learn about psychology (and related disciplines), to travel, and to meet new people, all at the same time! Summer schools offer the opportunity to explore areas of psychology that might not be taught at your university, or to really explore a subject, seeing as this scheme allows you to  focus your work on one topic in the company of students who are enthusiastic about the same subject. Last year, I attended a summer school on Law, Criminology and Psychology – coming from Germany, where Criminology is in the Law faculty, that was my opportunity to learn more about eye-witness accounts, lie detection, psychopathy, and how to interrogate children. Aside from classic lectures, summer schools often include seminars and group work. Continue reading

Answering Frequently Asked Questions about JEPS

Is there anything you ever wanted to know about JEPS and the people behind it? Here are answers to our ten most frequently asked questions.

  1.  Who are we?

We are students from all over Europe and, as Editorial Team of the Journal of European Psychology Students (check out our Website here), we run JEPS.  Together with a group of other people (Associate Editors, Reviewers, Copyeditors, and Proofreaders), we see students’ manuscripts through the publication process.

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Most frequent APA mistakes at a glance

APA-guidelines, don’t we all love them? As an example, take one simple black line used to separate words – the hyphen: not only do you have to check whether a term needs a hyphen or a blank space will suffice, you also have to think about the different types of hyphens (Em-dash, En-dash, minus, and hyphen). Yes, it is not that much fun. And at JEPS we often get the question: why do we even have to adhere to those guidelines?

APA_errors

Common APA Errors; Infographic taken from the EndNote Blog http://bit.ly/1uWDqnO

The answer is rather simple: The formatting constraints imposed by journals enable for the emphasis to be placed on the manuscript’s content during the review process. The fact that all manuscripts submitted share the same format allows for the Reviewers to concentrate on the content without being distracted by unfamiliar and irregular formatting and reporting styles.

The Publication Manual counts an impressive 286 pages and causes quite some confusion. In JEPS, we have counted the most frequent mistakes in manuscripts submitted to us – data that the EndNote-blog has translated into this nice little graphic.

Here you can find some suggestions on how to avoid these mistakes in the first place.

 References

American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Vainre, M. (2011). Common mistakes made in APA style. JEPS Bulletin, retrieved from http://blog.efpsa.org/2011/11/20/common-mistakes-made-in-apa-style/

A Psychologist’s Guide to Reading a Neuroimaging Paper

Psychological research is benefiting from advances in neuroimaging techniques. This has been achieved through the validation and falsification of established hypothesis in psychological science (Cacioppo, Berntson, & Nusbaum, 2008). It has also helped nurture links with neuroscience, leading to more comprehensive explanations of established theories. Positron Emission Tomography (PET), functional MRI (fMRI), structural MRI (sMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and numerous other lesser-known neuroimaging techniques can provide information complimentary to behavioural data (Wager, 2006). With these modalities of research becoming more prevalent, ranging from investigating the neural effects of mindfulness training to neuro-degeneration, it is worth taking a moment to highlight some points to help discern what may be good or poor research. Like any other methodology, neuroimaging is a great tool that can be used poorly. As with all areas of science, one must exercise a good degree of caution when reading neuroimaging papers. Continue reading

Interview in Israel: with Prof. Daniel Brom

Prof. Danny Brom is a clinical psychologist, the initiator of the Israel Trauma Coalition, and the Founding Director of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma in Jerusalem. Prof. Brom has published his first controlled outcome study on short-term therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 1989, and has since published continuously on the topic. His main effort goes to bridging the gap between scientific data and service provision in the community.   2014-07-05 15.03.48

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“Set the default to ‘Open'” – Impressions from the OpenCon2014

In November 2014, 150 early-career researchers and students met in Washington D.C. for OpenCon, organized by the Right to Research Coalition, to talk about the movement to open science up – be it through Open Access to published literature, Open Data, or Open Educational Resources. The three day event offered lectures and panels on the state of the open today, but also served as an incubator for the future of the whole debate that spans universities, research funders, and publishers. It was an opportunity for the already experienced advocates and academics to interact with the younger generation of students and researchers interested in these issues. Continue reading

Bayesian Statistics: What is it and Why do we Need it?

prlipohellThere is a revolution in statistics happening: The Bayesian revolution. Psychology students who are interested in research methods (which I hope everyone is!) should know what this revolution is about. Gaining this knowledge now instead of later might spare you lots of misconceptions about statistics as it is usually instructed in psychology, and it might help you gain a deeper understanding of the foundations of statistics. To make sure that you can try out everything you learn immediately, I conducted analysis in the free statistics software R (www.r-project.org; click HERE for a tutorial how to get started with R, and install RStudio for an enhanced R-experience) and I provide the syntax for the analysis directly in the article so you can easily try them out. So let’s jump in: What is “Bayesian Statistics”, and why do we need it? Continue reading