Professor Kirshenbaum and four students present psychology research at EPA conference

By: Buff Lindau

ari kirshenbaum and students
Professor Kirshenbaum, Tessa Roy '14,
Samantha Giglio '13, Mallory Hyland '13

Saint Michael's psychology professor Ari Kirshenbaum and four of his students presented research designed to help uncover new treatments for tobacco-dependence at the Eastern Psychological Association annual meetings March 1-4 at the Marquis Marriott in New York City.

"Going to a conference exposes our psychology students to the great diversity of behavioral research in the social sciences," Professor Kirshenbaum said. "They can see the importance of their research in the wider world of scientific understanding, and they develop ease and competence with the subject matter that helps them present their research to others outside of the college."

"Many students have been introduced to their future graduate-school mentors at these conferences," Professor Kirshenbaum said.

The students and their scientific presentations

Michael Fay '13, a psychology major from Yorktown Heights, NY:  "Nicotine-Induced amotivation: A result of conditioned inhibition?"

Samantha Giglio '13, a psychology major from Albany, NY:  "Social hierarchy and PR performance in rats: Effects of psychomotor stimulants on motivated behavior"

Mallory Hyland '13, a psychology major from North Kingston, RI: "Evidence of cholinergic memory enhancement from tickle-induce conditioned place preference"

Tessa Roy '14, a psychology major from Ft. Belvoir, VA: "Nicotine induced amotivation is related to nicotinic-acetylcholine receptor activation"

Professor Kirshenbaum described their research this way:

Our lab has discovered that after only very limited experience with nicotine, rats become unmotivated by food rewards that normally serve as powerful incentives. During tobacco withdrawal, the emotional symptoms such as depression and anxiety are powerful precipitators of tobacco-use relapse in human smokers, and we believe that our rat model is analogous to these emotional symptoms of withdrawal. Our laboratory research is focused on the neurobiological and psychological mechanisms that contribute to nicotine-induced motivational impairments in an attempt to uncover new opportunities for tobacco-dependence treatment.

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