faculty

Welcoming Assistant Professor Meghan Meyer to PBS

Assistant Professor Meghan Meyer joined the PBS Faculty in July, 2017.  She completed her Ph.D. at UCLA and post-doctoral training at Princeton University.  Professor Meyer’s research focuses on integrating social and cognitive neuroscience to understand what drives our ability and need to think about the social world around us.  Using brain imaging and behavioral methods she aims to answer questions such as: How do we juggle multiple social cognitive demands on the fly? How do we learn and consolidate information about the people and groups with whom we interact?  Why do the negative and positive experiences with people from our past seem to linger with us, either by haunting us with pain or consuming us with nostalgia?  For more about Professor Meyer’s research, visit her lab website.

This year, Professor Meyer will be teaching PSYC 23 – Social Psychology in the Winter 2018 term, and a new culminating seminar PSYC 83.07 - The Problem of Other Minds in Spring 2018.

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.

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.