Theses/Dissertations - Psychology and Neuroscience

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    Profile membership of self-worth contingencies predicts well-being, virtues, and values.
    (May 2023) Bounds, Elizabeth M., 1995-; Schnitker, Sarah A.
    Historically, researchers have conceptualized self-esteem as global self-evaluation; recently, others have suggested that people are selective about what affects their self-worth. Two studies (N = 1,032) used a person-centered approach to examine how six domains of self-worth contingency associate with well-being, virtue, and value outcomes. Latent profile analyses indicated five distinct profiles. Non-contingents (lowest contingency in all domains) reported good well-being outcomes, low self-transcendence and self-enhancement values, and gave the least in a behavioral measure of generosity. Moral Contingents (high contingency in a moral domain; low contingency in other domains) reported the greatest well-being, purpose/meaning, performance virtues, and prosocial virtues, and high self-transcendence and low self-enhancement values. High Contingents (highest contingency in all domains) reported the worst well-being, second-highest others-focused compassion, and high self-transcendence and self-enhancement values. Medium Contingents (moderate contingency) reported the second-worst ill-being, second-highest purpose, second-highest performance and prosocial virtues, and high self-transcendent and self-enhancement values. Low Contingents reported the lowest purpose and basic needs satisfaction, and high self-enhancement and low self-transcendent values. Implications for optimal self-esteem and values are discussed.
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    A second hit approach using early life seizures in Fmr1 knockout mice induces autism-like behavioral deficits.
    (May 2023) Blandin, Katherine J., 1996-; Lugo, Joaquin N.
    Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the leading monogenetic cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and expresses a high rate of seizures. Individuals with epilepsy also have a high rate of ASD. To disentangle the effects of FXS and early-life seizures on later behavioral deficits, we examined the impact of repeated seizures on the behavior and molecular changes in Fmr1 knockout (KO) male mice and wild-type (WT) male mice, serving as a model of FXS. A high seizure load was accomplished through three flurothyl-induced tonic-clonic seizures per day across postnatal days (PD) 7-11. In adulthood, mice were assessed in a battery of behavioral tasks to assess long-term behavioral deficits. A high seizure load decreased exploratory behavior and activity in both KO and control mice. Genotypic differences were observed with KO mice expressing significantly more repetitive and anxiety-like behavior. Early-life seizures in KO mice significantly decreased locomotor activity and increased associative learning, The double hit of FMR1 knockout and seizures resulted in a potentiation of repetitive behavior in the nose poke test. Following western blot analysis, we found no significant effects of genotype or treatment on mTOR signaling proteins, neuroinflammatory markers, or ion channel proteins. A high seizure load shows to have detrimental effects singularly and did exacerbate behavioral deficits in the mice with Fmr1 deletion. These findings further illuminate the long-term effects of early-life seizures, the impact of the FMR1 deletion, and the impact of two hits on the developing brain.
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    Examining the feasibility of a telehealth hypnosis intervention for stress reduction.
    (May 2023) Stevens, Audrey Hunt, 1990-; Elkins, Gary Ray, 1952-
    Hypnosis interventions have shown promise in reducing chronic psychological stress. However, the few studies that have examined hypnosis as a treatment for stress have shown consistent problems, particularly related to feasibility of delivering the hypnosis intervention. Supported by evidence of positive outcomes from virtually delivered psychological treatments, it was hypothesized that a hypnosis intervention delivered via telehealth may overcome problems demonstrated in previous studies. No studies to date have examined the feasibility of live delivery of a hypnosis intervention via telehealth to treat chronic psychological stress in a population especially vulnerable to stress. The primary aim of the present study was to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a telehealth hypnosis intervention for chronic psychological stress. A secondary aim was to examine possible mechanisms through which a hypnosis intervention may reduce psychological stress. The third aim was to determine the feasibility of data collection via telehealth and identify effects of a hypnosis intervention on psychological symptoms. Fifteen middle-aged adults (45 to 65 years old) with elevated psychological stress levels were enrolled in the single-arm study. Participants engaged in five sessions of a live telehealth hypnosis intervention and received five corresponding hypnosis audio recordings for independent self-hypnosis practice. The feasibility and acceptability of the telehealth hypnosis intervention was supported by results showing a high rate of participant retention, high rate of adherence to self-hypnosis practice, high satisfaction ratings, and positive qualitative feedback. Results of the second aim contribute to the growing body of evidence clarifying the mechanisms through which hypnosis may reduce stress. Mixed findings were observed related to the third aim, but participants reported significant reductions in psychological stress and anxiety at posttreatment and gains were maintained at follow-up. Despite limitations of the present feasibility study, quantitative and qualitative findings support the feasibility and acceptability of delivering a hypnosis intervention via telehealth to reduce chronic psychological stress in a middle-aged population.
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    Targeting the knowledge-behavior gap in sleep : the impact of augmenting sleep education with implementation intentions on sleep behaviors.
    (May 2023) Barley, Blake K., 1994-; Scullin, Michael K.
    Sleep education programs are increasingly used in colleges to improve sleep behaviors in students. These programs are successful at improving sleep knowledge, but rarely change sleep behaviors. One method of bridging this knowledge-behavior gap in sleep is to augment sleep education with implementation intention formation (Education+II). We tested this intervention in a challenging environment: organic chemistry classes. 101 undergraduate students completed baseline questionnaires and actigraphy monitoring before undergoing a standardized sleep education program. Students were then randomly assigned to an Education Only condition or an Education+II condition. Education+II individuals formed specific plans to go to bed earlier for the next five school nights and received nightly reminders to implement their plans. There were significant time-dependent improvements in sleep duration, and participants in the Education+II condition demonstrated earlier bedtimes than the Education Only condition, suggesting that sleep education augmented with implementation intentions is effective at facilitating improvements in sleep behaviors.
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    Developing a tailored mHealth app for legal guardians/caregivers of youth in aftercare for substance use : a theory-driven and user-centered approach.
    (August 2022) Magnuson, Katherine Ivy, 1995-; Ryan-Pettes, Stacy R.
    Adolescent substance use occurs at alarming rates. Despite these high rates of use, few teenagers obtain treatment. Those who do, return to use at significant rates posttreatment, suggesting that there are gaps in current treatments for adolescents who use substances. Behavioral parent training has positive effects on substance use treatment outcomes for adolescents. However, parents have difficulty participating in treatment because of barriers to access, initiation, and engagement. The use of mHealth apps to disseminate behavioral parent training for adolescent substance use is a possible solution to overcome barriers. However, there are no current behavioral-focused mHealth apps for parents of adolescents who use substances. mHealth apps are best developed through a participant-centered design that incorporates the lived experiences and perceptions of the end-user. Therefore, the present study sought to provide formative work for the development of an mHealth app for parents of adolescents engaged in substance use. This study used a participant-centered, mixed-methods design to recruit parents into a two-part study. Part One included a sample of 36 parents who were surveyed on their use of specific monitoring and supervision practices. Analyses were conducted to determine the frequency of use, and whether the use of specific practices is associated with adolescent age, gender, and substance use treatment history. Part Two included a follow-up interview (N=12) to examine parental lived experiences of using monitoring and supervision methods. Interviews were coded for perceived effectiveness, experience (positive or negative), and barriers to engaging in monitoring and supervision practices. Results indicated minimal differences in monitoring and supervision practices across adolescent age, gender, and substance use histories. Parents provided eleven different methods of monitoring and supervising their teenagers and provided effectiveness, lived experiences, and barriers associated with each method. Active methods of parental monitoring and supervision were determined as being the most effective methods of monitoring and supervising adolescents with substance use histories. Monitoring and supervision practices as well as methods to develop content for an mHealth app for parents of youth with substance use histories are discussed.
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    Developing a goals-based approach to virtue.
    (August 2022) Ratchford, Juliette L., 1995-; Schnitker, Sarah A.
    Recent literature (e.g., Ng & Tay, 2020) calls for a shift in virtue assessment away from decontextualized, global assessments toward contextualized measures. Throughout this dissertation, I seek to present a model of virtue informed by Cybernetic Big Five that situates virtues as characteristic adaptation strategies engaged in pursuit of goals. I seek to develop a theory-aligned measure of virtue by taking a goals-based approach to virtue. In chapter one, I present the extant literature regarding virtues and propose the goals-based measurement paradigm as a potential solution to issues of virtue measurement. In chapter two, I present data from three studies validating a goals-based measure of the virtue patience and provide empirical evidence regarding virtue’s place within the personality system. Across three studies, my new measure of patience in the pursuit of goals was reliable, structurally valid, and provided insight into contextual effects of patience. Building upon the findings in chapter two in chapter three, I extend the Aristotelian model of virtue by proposing the virtue counterbalancing circumplex model. Under this model, each virtue is paired with a complementary, counterbalancing virtue, where the vice of excess for one virtue is the vice of deficiency for the other. I test this extended model with a longitudinal goals-based approach study on the virtues of patience and courage positioned between the vices of passivity and reactivity. Findings suggested empirical support for the virtue counterbalancing circumplex model. Additionally, there were interesting distinctions at the within level (e.g., specific goal level) and between level (e.g., characteristic person level) of analysis, which provide further insight into how these virtues and vices relate. Finally, in chapter four I present overall conclusions and takeaways from the present research, situating the findings from chapter two and three within both virtue and personality literature.
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    Exploring the effects of maternal immune activation on cisplatin-induced toxicities.
    (August 2022) Rodgers, Hailey N., 1999-; Vichaya, Elisabeth G.
    With cancer survivorship on the rise, there needs to be more research on the long-lasting side effects that can arise from cancer treatment. Cancer treatment is associated with many side effects including fatigue, depression, and anxiety, and for some these side effects can last for years after treatment cessation. Currently, there is a lack of data predicting which patients will display severe symptoms; however, some have suggested that early-life stressors, like maternal immune activation (MIA) may contribute to these differences in susceptibility. As MIA has been associated with alterations in stress responsivity, inflammation, and metabolism, we wanted to determine if MIA would exacerbate cisplatin-induced fatigue and affective problems in adulthood. On gestational. Day 12.5, dams were injected with 20 mg/kg Poly(I:C) or vehicle. At six weeks old, offspring were single housed with running wheels and 14 days later were injected with saline or cisplatin (2.3 mg//kg/day for 5 days). After cisplatin treatment, mice underwent a battery of affective tests. MIA females showed increased voluntary wheel running compared to controls, while males did not. Following cisplatin treatment, MIA females did not show the expected decrease in running that the controls and males did. Both male and female mice showed no differences in affective tests. Our data indicate that MIA females may have been buffered from severe acute fatigue in response to cisplatin, while the males showed no effects. The increased basal activity and lack of fatigue displayed by females, may be indicative of metabolic alterations by MIA; more research needs to be done to explore this effect. MIA did not increase the susceptibility of fatigue or affective dysregulation in mice following cisplatin treatment.
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    Kainic acid-induced status epilepticus results in anterograde amnesia for contextual learning.
    (August 2022) Sullens, D. Gregory, 1989-; Lugo, Joaquin N.
    Individuals with epilepsy suffer a decrease in quality-of-life, and a major factor in this decrease is memory deficits. One of the most common memory deficits those with epilepsy report is a brief period of amnesia surrounding a seizure event. Recent evidence indicates a single acute seizure disrupts learning which occurs within one-hour but not six-hours post-seizure. In this study, we examined if a kainic acid (KA) induced episode of status epilepticus (SE) will disrupt memory for an associative memory task occurring one (1hr) or six hours (6hrs) post-SE recovery. Recall tests for contextual and cued fear memory were run 24hrs and 1wk after SE induction using Delay Fear Conditioning (DFC). We also collected hippocampal tissue from a separate cohort of mice at 24hrs and 1wk to examine histological alterations which may be associated with memory recall deficits. We observed contextual, but not cued, fear memory deficits at both 24hrs and 1wk recall for males and females trained 1hr after SE. When trained 6hrs after SE contextual memory recall was impaired at 24hrs but not 1wk later in males and females. We conducted western blot analysis for factors associated with decreased memory recall such as increased immune response (IBA1), astrocyte reactivity (GFAP), and mTOR hyperactivity (AKT/pAKT and S6/pS6). We observed an increase in IBA1 levels at 24hrs and 1wk, increases in AKT and pAKT at 24hrs, and pS6 at 24hrs for KA mice. This study suggests a single SE episode can disrupt contextual memory for up to six hours after SE cessation and altered PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling and inflammation may play a role in post-seizure memory disruption.
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    Causes, consequences, and changes in sociopolitical ideologies in the U.S.
    (August 2022) Al-Kire, Rosemary L., 1993-; Rowatt, Wade Clinton, 1969-
    In this dissertation, I examine two related but distinct sociopolitical ideologies: Christian nationalism and social dominance orientation. In paper one, I leverage data across four studies to examine the association between Christian nationalism and immigrant related attitudes and political policy in the U.S. Across these studies, Christian nationalism emerged as a robust predictor of negative attitudes toward immigrants and related policies. Importantly, intergroup threat explained these associations, suggesting threat is an important mechanism through which Christian nationalism relates to immigrant attitudes. In paper two, I examine how perceived threat to religion might fuel greater endorsement of Christian nationalism. Across two original experimental studies, I found that reminding Christian Americans that the number of Christians was declining in the U.S. elicited greater perceptions of threat to religion, which led to an increase in endorsement of Christian nationalist ideology and greater support for conservative politicians. Finally, in paper three, I examine changes in social dominance orientation among American college students, and test whether theoretically linked societal phenomena correlate with these changes. To do so, I conducted a cross-temporal meta-analysis. I found support for a non-linear trend over time, suggesting social dominance orientation increased between the years 1992 and 2007, but did not change between 2008 and 2018. Additionally, changes in social dominance orientation over time were most strongly associated with indices of competition and economic inequality.
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    Body focused gratitude for adolescents.
    (August 2022) Shea, Catherine E., 1989-; Limbers, Christine A.
    Body image concerns are a prevalent and significant concern among adolescent populations. Negative perception of one’s body is associated with a number of maladaptive outcomes that can negatively impact quality of life. As such, there is a critical need for efficacious interventions that address body image concerns in adolescents. When exploring body image interventions utilized in other populations, gratitude interventions have offered a promising approach to targeting an individual’s perception of his or her physical being. One such gratitude intervention utilized within a young adult population is body-focused gratitude. The present study is the first randomized control trial that utilized a body focused gratitude intervention to target body image concerns among adolescents ages 15 to 18 years. High school students ages 15 to 18 years completed baseline measures of body image and feelings of positive emotions and were then randomly assigned to either the control group or body-focused gratitude intervention group. Data were gathered post-intervention and at a one-week follow up to explore the effect of the intervention on adolescent body image. The results indicated that there were significant baseline mean differences on body esteem or body satisfaction between the control group and the experimental group. There were no significant mean differences in body esteem between the groups. While the intervention did not result in increased feelings of body esteem, future research is needed to elucidate the impact of body focused gratitude on an adolescent population.
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    The role of shame and guilt in the etiology of not just right experiences : an experimental evaluation.
    (August 2022) Shivaji, Sindhuja, 1992-; Fergus, Thomas A.
    Not just right experiences (NJREs) are a form of maladaptive perfection-seeking in which sensations of tension signal a perceived discrepancy between one’s current state and a desired, ideal one. Affect-laden processing, primarily involving self-conscious emotions such as shame and guilt, may be a critical element in the elicitation of NJREs. The link between NJREs and guilt has been empirically investigated in a prior study, in which a guilt induction produced significantly greater NJREs than a control induction. Though shame and guilt are closely related, distinctions in phenomenological experiences, common correlates, and links to neutralization urges and other behavioral drives suggest that shame, more than guilt, may promote NJREs. The present study is the first to investigate the role of both shame and guilt states in the etiology of NJREs. An experimental induction of shame was predicted to cause greater NJRE intensity, as well as related concerns (i.e., neutralization urges), when compared to a guilt or control induction.
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    White privilege in the face of COVID-19 threat.
    (2022-04-01) Weedman, Monica V., 1997-; Tsang, Jo-Ann C.
    Recent work on the psychology of privilege posits that evidence of White Privilege poses a threat to White individuals’ self- regard, motivating defensive responding. However, existing literature explores this phenomenon as a unitary source of threat, without consideration of external conditions that might affect how White individuals interact with their privileged status. The current study (N = 283) experimentally manipulated exposure to the external threat of COVID-19 to investigate perceptions of White Privilege when the domains in which privilege affords advantage are threatened. Consistent with previous findings, we hypothesized that participants exposed to COVID-19 threat would demonstrate defensive responding in the form of White Privilege denial and increased claims of life hardship to maintain resources threatened and restore positive self- regard. Instead, we found that experiencing negative affect following exposure to COVID-19 threat increased egalitarian attitudes toward White Privilege, and this effect is influenced by person- level ideology. These findings hold important implications for the understanding of inequity and implementation of inequity- reduction interventions.
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    Transcendent moral motives and virtue : a meditation-based experiment exploring the roles of self-transcending and self-enhancing motives in virtue development.
    (2021-10-27) Williams, Emily G., 1996-; Schnitker, Sarah A.
    Current virtue theories emphasize the role of self-transcendent morality in virtue development, but there is limited empirical work that explores this. A three-week meditation-based intervention (N = 877) experimentally manipulated self-transcending (vs. self-enhancing) motives in the development of patience, generosity, social responsibility, gratitude, and honesty. We hypothesized that participants in the transcendent condition would report higher post-intervention virtue, self-transcendent positive emotions, and values of universalism and benevolence, and these patterns were hypothesized to persist for virtue after controlling for baseline levels. We further predicted self-transcendent emotions and self-enhancement would mediate this relation. Results indicated post-intervention differences between the two meditation conditions and an inactive control, but not each other. The meditative conditions reported higher self-transcendence and self-enhancement, and self-transcendence and self-enhancement mediated the pathway between baseline and post-intervention virtue. These findings hold important implications for research on meditation, the role of self-transcendence in virtue development, and implementing virtue-building interventions.
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    Rapamycin improves social and stereotypic behavior abnormalities induced by neural subset specific Pten deletion.
    (2021-11-17) Narvaiz, David A., 1985-; Lugo, Joaquin N.
    In both patients and rodent models, mutations to the phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome ten (PTEN) gene result in hyperactivation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway – a signaling system integral to neural growth – followed by seizures, intellectual disabilities, and autistic behaviors. Rapamycin, an inhibitor of mTOR, can reverse the epileptic phenotype of neural subset specific Pten knockout (NS-Pten KO) mice, but its impact on behavior is not known. To determine the behavioral effects of rapamycin, male and female NS-Pten KO and wildtype (WT) mice were assigned as controls or administered 10 mg/kg of rapamycin for 2 weeks followed by behavioral testing. Rapamycin improved social behavior in both genotypes, p < .05, and stereotypic behaviors in NS-Pten KO mice, p < .05. These data demonstrate the potential clinical use of mTOR inhibitors by showing its administration can reduce the production of autistic-like behaviors in NS-Pten KO mice.
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    Social cognitive processing theory of romantic relationship dissolution.
    (2021-07-28) Schneider, Kiley Anne, 1993-; Sanford, Keith Philip.
    Social cognitive processing (SCP) theory has been found to be predictive of significant distress and intrusive thinking following stressful life events and therefore creates a strong theoretical framework to examine how individuals cope following a breakup (Lepore, 2001). Only one study to date (i.e. Harvey & Karpinski, 2016) has examined the role of SCP theory in romantic relationship dissolution, which proposed that the relationship between negative interactions and breakup distress is mediated through avoidant coping behavior following a breakup. The current study served to expand on this research by: (a) replicating the basic model proposed by Harvey & Karpinski (2016), (b) investigating intrusive thoughts as a negative outcome, (c) examining the construct of avoidant coping behaviors within the model, and (d) exploring the distinct roles of negative and positive interactions with social supports. Participants included 319 college-age individuals who experienced a breakup within the past 12 months; they completed a one-time, online survey via the SONA recruitment system. Negative interactions demonstrated a partially mediated relationship with breakup distress through avoidant coping that was commensurate with Harvey & Karpinski’s (2016) results. Intrusive thoughts were also found to be a significant negative outcome within the proposed mediation model. Specific types of avoidant coping behaviors were found to be distinct and to play a role in mediating the relationship between negative interactions and negative outcomes (i.e. breakup distress and intrusive thoughts), while a general type of avoidant coping did not appear to predict unique variance. Positive interactions were not associated with the other variables in the study. Overall, the results suggests that SCP theory is a potential theoretical model in which to examine the effects of negative interactions on coping and negative outcomes following romantic relationship dissolution. Results also raise questions about the importance of positive interactions within SCP theory of romantic relationship dissolution.
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    The role of executive dysfunction and substance use in intimate partner violent offenders.
    (2021-07-27) Humenik, Alexis M., 1994-; Dolan, Sara Lynn.
    Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a worldwide public health problem. Treatment programs for perpetrators of IPV have limited success, suggesting a need to investigate potential predictors of IPV in hopes to develop more effective treatment. Biological and neuropsychological correlates have gained recent attention in explaining IPV perpetration, however, few studies have specifically focused on executive cognitive functioning (ECF). Because deficits in ECF are linked to general aggression and violence, it follows that ECF impairment may also be associated with IPV perpetration. Alcohol and drug use also have been consistently linked to aggression and IPV, as well as deficits in ECF, and substance use has been implicated as a potential causal factor in IPV-related neuropsychological deficits. The present study was the first to comprehensively measure the relationship between substance use, including alcohol use, and ECF in this population. The study compared scores on performance-based and behavior ratings of ECF between groups of IPV offenders classified by their level of substance use (high vs. low). The sample consisted of 35 participants detained in a county jail for family violence offenses, with 21 participants assigned to the high substance use group and 14 participants classified into the low substance use group. ECF scores were analyzed using one-way multiple analyses of covariance (MANCOVAs) with age entered as a covariate. Results indicated no significant differences between groups on performance-based or behavioral ratings of ECF. However, lack of findings was likely due to limited power. A between-group difference on the performance-based measure of decision making trended towards significance (F (1, 32) = 7.17, p = .012, ղ2 = .183), suggesting promising results for future studies with larger samples. Relationships between performance-based and behavior ratings of ECF were also assessed; performance-based and behavior ratings shared moderate relationships, suggesting the utility of both types of assessment for comprehensive ECF measurement. Further, multiple regression analyses indicated that ECF was not associated with physical IPV perpetration independent of substance use. Findings suggest that substance use plays an important role in the relationship between ECF and IPV.
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    Neuropsychological predictors of functional disability in Gulf War Illness.
    (2021-07-30) Jia-Richards, Meilin, 1991-; Dolan, Sara Lynn.
    Functional disability refers to the degree to which a health condition impacts day-to-day physical, social, and emotional functioning. Veterans with Gulf War Illness (GWI) may be particularly at risk for developing high functional disability due to their illness. However, few have examined potential factors associated with functional disability in GWI. Cognitive impairment is potentially one determinant of functional disability. Moreover, cognitive impairment is one of the core symptoms of GWI. Thus, the current study proposed to examine neuropsychological and deployment-related correlates of functional disability in veterans with GWI. Data from N = 28 veterans with GWI were used for the current study. We hypothesized that three neuropsychological domains impaired in GWI—verbal memory, visuospatial ability, and working memory—would significantly predict functional disability over and above deployment trauma (probable PTSD and depressive symptoms). Hierarchical linear regression suggested our hypothesis was only partially supported. The combination of neuropsychological predictors did not account for a significant addition of variance (ΔR2 = .85, F(8, 25) = 1.73, p = .163), with deployment trauma accounting for the majority of variance (b = .43, SE = .05, p < .001). However, immediate visuospatial memory (b = -.02, SE = .01, p = .037) and visuospatial organizational ability (b = .01, SE = .00, p = .040) were both significantly associated with functional disability in the full model (R2 = .90, F(10, 17) = 14.55, p < .001). Our results suggest that veterans with GWI could benefit from treatment targeting both mental and cognitive health in addition to typical treatment targeting physical symptoms. Historically, veterans with GWI have struggled to find appropriate support and treatment for their illness. Identifying factors impacting their day-to-day functioning will help target resources to this underserved population.
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    Parental social support in children and adolescents : validation of the Interpersonal Resilience Inventory—Adolescent Version.
    (2021-08-04) Sherrill, Brittany N., 1992-; Sanford, Keith Philip.
    Objective The current objective is to validate a modified version of the Interpersonal Resilience Inventory (IRI) for use in a population of adolescents and to examine distinctions between constructs of positive and negative parent social support interactions in relation to affective and emotional regulation outcomes. Methods Participants were a total of N = 443 adolescents aged 10-15 that were current 6th through 8th grade students at two middle schools in urban areas in the United States. The sample was 36.8% male and 62.8% female; 61% non-Hispanic White, 36% Hispanic or Latino, 12% Black, 3.4% Asian, and 5% Other. Results Confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated good fit and high item loadings for a two-factor model. Item response theory analyses showed very high individual item discrimination and good test information across scales. Negative interactions were significantly more strongly related to negative affect and emotional regulation outcomes than were positive interactions; the same was true for positive interactions with positive affect. Negative interactions significantly contributed to all outcomes and were important in predicting outcomes over and above existing measures of general and parent-specific perceived support availability. Conclusion The IRI-A is a valid instrument for assessing distinct constructs of parent positive and negative social support. Future research should focus on the sensitivity of the instrument to change. Practice Implications By using the IRI to assess parent positive and negative interactions, it may be possible to detect and prioritize specific support behaviors for family interventions (i.e., negative interactions).
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    Lay beliefs of anxiety etiology as a cause of perceived anxiety controllability : an experimental evaluation.
    (2021-07-23) Kleinsasser, Anne L., 1987-; Fergus, Thomas A.
    Perceived controllability over the symptoms of anxiety is a key determinant of anxiety severity and an important target in the treatment of clinically severe anxiety. Perceived controllability of anxiety symptoms appears to be shaped partially through verbal persuasion; however, little is known about the origins of these beliefs. Extant findings indicate that the perceived controllability of other mental health concerns can be caused by exposure to etiological explanations. Specifically, exposure to biological and genetic explanations causes lower perceived symptom controllability, whereas exposure to psychological and social explanations does not impact perceived mental health controllability in this way. Despite these findings, this causal relationship remains unexamined with regard to anxiety. The present study aimed to provide the first test of the potentially causal relationship between exposure to biogenetic and psychosocial etiological explanations and perceived anxiety controllability. Participants were randomized to view one of two presentations about the etiology of anxiety and completed a self-report measure of anxiety controllability. Any relationship between etiological beliefs and perceived anxiety controllability was impossible to determine due to failure of the experimental manipulation to produce statistically significant differences between groups on a manipulation check. A model of naïve theory formation, perseverance, and change is used to compare methods of the current study with those of studies that effectively manipulated lay beliefs about mental health. Factors negatively impacting motivation for processing naïve theories and biases in processing of novel information are identified as potential causes of the manipulation failure in the present study. Future studies may successfully manipulate participants’ beliefs by motivating naïve theory processing, establishing an environment conducive to naïve theory processing, and presenting content likely to overcome biases in information processing.
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    Validity, reliability, and gender invariance of the Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale (AMAS) in middle school students.
    (2021-07-01) Cohen, Lauren Adelyn, 1990-; Limbers, Christine A.
    Math anxiety is a common form of state anxiety that is associated with poorer math performance and achievement in children, adolescents, and young adults. It is also associated with avoidance of advanced education and career paths in STEM-related fields and is disproportionately higher in females than males across the lifespan. The Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale (AMAS) is a brief self-report measure of math anxiety comprised of two subscales that has been shown to be a reliable and valid measure of math anxiety for elementary, high school, and college-aged students. The AMAS also demonstrates factorial invariance across gender in these populations, indicating that it can be used to compare mean score differences in males and females. Despite the importance of the middle school years on the trajectory of math anxiety, the psychometric properties of the AMAS have not yet been examined in a middle school population. The purpose of the current study was to address gaps in the literature by examining the reliability, validity, and gender invariance of the AMAS in middle school students. A group of 604 students from two middle schools in the Southern United States completed the AMAS in person or online, as well as measures of math anxiety, test anxiety, worry, attitudes towards math, positive affect and career interest in STEM fields. Confirmatory factor analyses and multigroup confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to assess the factor structure of the AMAS and test for factorial invariance across gender. Internal consistency reliability was assessed and correlations between the AMAS and other measures were examined to assess for convergent, and divergent validity. The AMAS demonstrated good internal consistency reliability, convergent and divergent validity, and factorial invariance across boys and girls in the middle school sample. A bifactor model provided a good fit for the data and an improved fit over unidimensional and bidimensional models. Results from the current study suggest that the AMAS is a valid and reliable measures of math anxiety for middle school students and can be used to measure differences in math anxiety between boys and girls in this population.