|The goal of this project is two-fold. The first goal is to employ brain
imaging techniques in order to understand the neuroanatomical correlates
of learning and memory performance. The second goal is to find ways to
enhance learning in memory-impaired patients by taking advantage of memory
processes or cognitive systems that might be spared in such patients. We
will evaluate the utility of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
as a tool for mapping the changes in patientsí learning strategies (and,
presumably, brain function) that occur through the course of cognitive
|Spatial Cognition and Hippocampal
| This project is being conducted in collaboration with Professor
Rus Bauer at the University of Florida. We plan to conduct several studies
of patients in the Univerity of Florida Comprehensive Epilepsy Program.
Those patients suffer from various forms of intractable epilepsy, the most
common of which is complex partial epilepsy of the temporal lobe origin.
At present, the program's surgical epilepsy database contains about 150
patients who have undergone, or who are being considered for, anterior
temporal lobectomy. Our first study will involve C-G Arena testing of patients
who have undergone such surgery and who have been post-surgically seizure
free for at least 2 years. Subsequent studies will feature C-G Arena testing
of patients at several times pre- and post-surgery.
|Emergency Room Project: (Holly
|The Emergency Room study was designed to test a model of traumatic
memory that predicts temporary functional amnesia will occur under traumatically
stressful conditions. We were recruiting individuals admitted to the ER
who have experienced a traumatic event. To rule out potential confounds,
we required that the traumatic event occur shortly before data collection.
|The database is a collection of all C-G Arena related data collected
by the Anxiety Research Group since 1995, with 50+ experiments and
a huge number of subjects. You can find all questionnaire and arena data,
along with an information file explaining more than you ever wanted to
know about what we do.
|Stress Study: (Holly
|We examined the effects of exposure to an acute social stressor on
place learning and memory in men and women. Study 1 showed that experience
with the Trier Social Stress Test disrupted both place learning within
a computer-generated space and memory for that space in women. Experience
with the same stressor did not affect either place learning or memory for
the computer-generated space in men. Study 2 found reported increases stress
(whether due to TSST or not) disrupted place-learning and produced time
distortions. Increases in reported stress, however, did not effect implicit
memory, motor skills, or attention/working memory. These data (a) provide
empirical support for theoretical work offered by Jacobs & Nadel
(1985, 1998, 1999a, b) Nadel & Jacobs (1996), and Jacobs et al., (1992),
(b) suggest a novel approach to understanding the robust sex differences
commonly reported for specific anxiety disorders (e.g., Kessler et al,
Study 2 found reported increases stress (whether due to TSST or not)
disrupted place-learning and produced time distortions. Increases in reported
stress, however, did not effect implicit memory, motor skills, or attention/working
memory. These data provide empirical support for theoretical work offered
by Jacobs & Nadel (2000).
|Stress and Performance:
A Pilot Study: (Karen Putnam)
|This study examines spatial navigation learning and performance under
stress in a population of both expert and novice fighter pilots.
Spatial ability is measured by performance in a flight simultor as well
as in the CG Arena. Other behavioral measures will include Spielberger
STAI, critical action procedures (CAPs), and reaction time on the tasks.
Physiological measures will include heart-rate and salivary cortisol.
Several related questionnaires will also be administered.
|This project is designed to study spatial navigation and place learning
abilities of children, between the ages of 3 to 13. The goal of this
study is to chart spatial cognitive abilities of children across age ranges
(using the C-G Arena). We may eventually compare this data to data collected
from children with disorders, such as Attention Deficit Disorder.
|Ritalin, SSRIs, &
Benzodiazepines: (Beth Kirsner, Geneva Vasquez, José
Léon, & Alma Durazo)
|The focus of this study is to develop an understanding of how Ritalin,
a stimulant medication used to treat ADHD, impacts upon human spatial cognition.
We simply asked the 1500 undergraduates that take our intro courses to
tell us if they take (a) benzodiazepines, (b) SSRIs, or (c) one of the
Ritalin-like substances. Those who said they did were recruited, brought
into the lab, given a series of neuropsych tests, and were given the full
C-G Arena procedure (yes, we checked when they last took the drug).
The latter was designed to examine momentary spatial 'intelligence' or
spatial 'cognition' or, more accurately, place learning and memory as well
as spatial (layout) memory. The data look something like this: (a)
No effect of benzo's on any of our measures (N=2), (b) Massive spatial
deficits in the presence of Ritalin and the SSRIs on most of the subjects
tested (N=12). Indeed, there is little evidence of place learning in these
people at all (this matches the ideographic Ritalin stories that keep floating
around the net). The probe trials (memory) are really bizarre. It
is as if these people know nothing about the space, and (c) The three
people on Ritalin *and* an antidepressant showed no detectable spatial
deficits. We will expand this as soon as we get access to more people taking
the medications. The third study will involve testing children's performance
in the C-G Arena while they are on Ritalin and while they are on a Ritalin
holiday. We suspect that Ritalin may impact negatively upon the formation
of cognitive maps in both children and adults.
|Classical Conditioning (Eric Jackson)
|It has been shown that stress enhances aversive learning (fear-conditioning)
in male rats, while it disrupts aversive learning in female rats.
It is believed that this is the result of stress's effects on the amygdala.
We are attempting to replicate this finding in humans with a design that
incorporates subthreshold (non-aware) presentation of fear-triggers.
|Asthma Study (Holly Laurance)
|Investigating the short- and long-term effects of asthma and asthma
medications utilizing a neuropsychological battery to determine cognitive
and behavioral strengths and weaknesses. This study is designed to test
a model that predicts stress will have a major impact on the hippocampal
structure, and to a lesser extent, the pre-frontal cortex. Participants
will range in ages from 7 to 50.