faculty

Study: Teens' View of Fairness Shifts as Brain Develops

September 20, 2017 by Office of Public Affairs

Research links cortical thinning over time to the ability to consider others’ intentions.

When it comes to the concept of fairness, teenagers’ ability to consider the intentions of others appears to be linked to structural changes in the brain, according to a study led by Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences Luke Chang.

The research found that cortical thinning of specific areas of the brain from youth into young adulthood corresponded to the transition from an emphasis on equality in all transitions to a more complex consideration of the intentions of others in exchanges. This developmental change in the social brain continued through late adolescence, the researchers said.

Why ‘Don’t Even Start’ Doesn’t Work With Teenagers

Researcher David Bucci flips the neural switches to replicate an “adolescent brain.”

January 10, 2017 by Bill Platt
Originally published in the Dartmouth News.

As parents of a teenager can tell you, adolescents don’t always think about risks before they act, whether it is venturing onto thin ice on a dare or spending the weekend watching an entire Star Wars marathon before starting a project that’s due Monday.

For many years psychologists and researchers have observed this behavior and linked it to data showing that the part of the brain that regulates impulsivity—the prefrontal cortex—is not yet fully developed in adolescents, while the deeper reward-seeking part of the brain, called the nucleus accumbens, develops more rapidly, leaving teens with less control over impulses.

Now Dartmouth researchers have identified and altered the precise neural circuits that control reward-seeking impulses and risk-assessment controls, effectively flipping the switches to create an “adolescent brain” in adult rats.

Assistant Professor, Systems/Behavioral Neuroscience

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College seeks applications for a tenure-track appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor (entry-level or advanced) effective July 1, 2017.  Exceptional senior candidates may also be considered.  Applications are invited from individuals who have exhibited excellence in research and are able to provide high-quality teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Preferred candidates will be those who combine strong behavioral theory with state-of-the-art neurobiological methods to study the mechanisms underlying cognitive and behavioral function using small animals as an experimental model.  We have a particular interest in candidates whose research focuses on circuits or populations of neurons in relation to behavior.  Specific research areas of interest include, but are not limited to: reward/reinforcement, learning/memory, decision-making, and cognitive/executive function.  The department is housed in an integrated research and teaching environment that provides facilities for cognitive, social, and neurobiological research.  Members of the department interact closely with faculty in biological sciences, c

David Bucci Named to Endowed Chair

Every year Dartmouth names a few of its top faculty to endowed professorships, recognizing their scholarship, teaching, and service to the College community as models of Dartmouth’s liberal arts ideal.  This year, six members of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences have been appointed to endowed chairs, including David Bucci, Chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.  Professor Bucci now holds the Ralph and Richard Lazarus Professorship in Psychological and Brain Sciences and Human Relations.

Come to Think of It—or Not: How Memories Can Be Forgotten

May 25, 2016 by John Cramer

Context plays a big role in our memories, both good and bad. Hearing Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run on the car radio, for example, may remind you of your first love—or your first speeding ticket. Either way, a new Dartmouth- and Princeton-led brain scanning study may be of interest: The study shows that people can intentionally forget their experiences by changing how they think about the context of those memories.

The study, which appears in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, has a range of potential applications centered on enhancing desired memories, such as developing new educational tools, or diminishing harmful memories, including treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Since ancient Greece, memory theorists have known that people use context—or the situation they’re in, including sights, sounds, smells, where they are, who they are with—to organize and retrieve memories. But the team of scientists wanted to know whether—and how—people could intentionally forget certain experiences.