April 24, 2014

NIH Meet the Experts in Peer Review Webinar

We've been invited by the NIH to participate in a webinar on the peer review process. This webinar will take place on Friday, May 2nd from 3-5 p.m. in the Schwartz Digital Viewing Room on the first floor of Bracken Library. 

The NIH will be streaming a live, two hour seminar with the following presentations:

The Review of Your NIH Grant Application Begins Here
Dr. Richard Nakamura, Director, NIH Center for Scientific Review

What You Need to Know about Application Receipt and Referral

Dr. Cathie Cooper, Director, CSR Division or Receipt and Referral

How Your Application Is Reviewed
Dr. Lisa Steele, Scientific Review Officer, CSR

Jumpstart Your Career with CSR's Early Career Reviewer Program

Dr. Monica Basco, Coordinator, Early Career Reviewer Program

Participants can email questions for the speakers to AskExperts@csr.nih.gov during the presentations. As many questions as possible will be answered during the last 30 minutes of the webinar.

To RSVP for this webinar please follow this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1rRzaaqjsQo1TP4pIMEnOuBOEunTpiXHFEaVgpkGyd7U/viewform


Contributed by Brenda Mackey
Graduate Assistant, Research Publications
Sponsored Programs Office, Ball State University

What do zombies and Stephanie Simon-Dack, assistant professor of psychological science, have in common?

“Neuroscientists almost always tend to be obsessed with zombies. And it’s because zombies love brains, we love brains,” she explained. “There’s an affinity.”

Simon-Dack can now explore her (and the zombies’) favorite thing more thoroughly thanks to an MRI grant from the National ScienceFoundation.

The grant allowed her to purchase Electroencephalography (EEG) equipment to record event-related potentials, which show highly accurate timing of brain response – exactly when the brain is doing what.

As displayed in the photo below, the EEG looks like something from a science fiction movie consisting of a cap with a series of electrodes that are attached to an amplifier. “When you append those electrodes to somebody’s scalp, on the top of the surface of their head, they record the electrical activity being generated from the surface of the cortex, from the brain,” Simon-Dack explained. “EEG uses these amplified recording mechanisms to pick up the synchronized power of all these cortical neurons firing together – if they’re all firing together, then that’s going to be a powerful enough signal that you’re going to be able to get it up outside of the scalp.”

Professor Stephanie Simon-Dack performs test using EEG equipment.
The researcher sets participants’ neurons to firing by giving them a task. One simple test shows pictures of frogs, asking participants to push a button when a blue frog appears. The EEG is programmed to put a 1 in the data readout every time a green frog is displayed and a 2 for each blue frog. “That becomes super powerful. So I’m not just getting a general processing idea. I can look at the recordings we were making of their brain activity and I can look across all of those green frog trials – what did their brain do that was the same every time they saw the green frog, and did that vary when they saw the blue frog?”” Simon-Dack said. “Now I’m getting what parts of the brain are processing that information. And not so much what parts, but when are they processing it?”

A big part of Simon-Dack’s research involves how individuals process time. To do this, she is examining how fast the two hemispheres of the brain communicate with each other. “Does that efficiency or inefficiency of transfer coordinate with how well or poorly we process time?” she pondered. “There’s some evidence it may be related to our ability to put together events in a linear fashion in time. Now I’m looking very small, within hundreds of milliseconds, but that eventually might lead to different types of time subjectivity.”

To test this, participants will perform a simple response time task that lets Simon-Dack probe how fast the brain is sending information back and forth based on where the target is and which hand they respond with.

When it comes to transmitting information between the right and left hemispheres, “how efficiently or inefficiently individuals transfer information influences a whole variety of spatial and intentional processing,” Simon-Dack explained. “It’s an unconscious activity. I’m not looking at anything at an upper level, like decision-making or anything crazy. I’m very interested before all that, before we hit the conscious brain – what are these very basic, automatic underlying processes doing to influence how we later consciously interact with the world?”

Simon-Dack hopes that her research will someday inform education and treatment for individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “There’s some evidence that individuals with ADHD have trouble with processing time, with how information entering into their brains gets sorted into the correct timing of when it happened,” she explained. “So if we can figure out what exactly is the disconnect, and how is it related to ADHD, that would become interesting for maybe giving people with ADHD some compensation techniques.”

Obviously, having an EEG is great for those who study brains. But is it useful for other researchers?

“I think it expands the context in which people can perform their research,” Simon-Dack said. “Most people aren’t into neuroscience like me. But it allows somebody like Mike Tagler [associate professor of psychological science], who’s on this grant, who looks at how context and how past information exposure influences decision making to actually add this element where they can look online at what the brain is doing while somebody is performing that decision, based on the context they’ve been given.

“It gives them a new tool, not just to examine behavior, but even if they’re not a neuro person they can actually now look at the underlying neuro mechanisms involved with a behavior and that might give them better information for informing their theories about it. And I think that anyone in the department could actually do a study with this equipment and learn something new about their area without it involving this huge shift from what they’re doing.”

Simon-Dack is excited to have this equipment at Ball State. “The idea of an MRI grant is you’re bringing equipment that a university otherwise wouldn’t have access to,” she said. “It’s going to benefit the whole university and potentially even outside the university, individuals who otherwise would not be able to perform this kind of research.”

Assistant Professor Stephanie Simon-Dack poses with EEG analysis equipment.

April 23, 2014

GA Position Availible in SPO

The Sponsored Programs Office is hiring a Proposal Development and Intellectual Property graduate assistant for Summer 2014 with continuation into the 2014-15 Academic Year. There is also potential to continue into Summer 2015.

Click Here for the complete job description and application instructions.

April 11, 2014

2013-14 Researcher of the Year and Creative Endeavor Awardee Lectures

Researcher of the Year and Creative Endeavor Awardee Lecture
Monday, April 14, 2014
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Art & Journalism Building, Room 225

The Sponsored Programs Office is pleased to invite you to attend the annual Researcher of the Year and Creative Endeavor Awardee Lecture! Each year following the announcement of the Outstanding Researcher of the Year and Outstanding Creative Endeavor of the Year,  the Sponsored Programs Office (SPO) hosts a presentation event for each recipient to lecture and discuss their work for the campus community. This year's event will by held on Monday, April 14th at the Arts & Journalism Building (Room 225) from 2 pm to 3:30 pm. 

For additional information regarding previous Researchers of the Year and Creative Endeavor Awardees, please visit the SPO website at www.bsu.edu/spo. 

Tom Holtgraves
Department of Psychological Science
2013-14 Researcher of the Year

Researching Language to Span Academic Boundaries

Matt Mullins
Department of English
2013-14 Creative Endeavor Awardee

Interactive Literature and Digital Media

April 07, 2014

The 2014 Student Symposium at Ball State University

The 19th Annual Student Symposium at Ball State University was held Tuesday, April 1, 2014. The event was held on the second floor of the L.A. Pittenget Student Center. Poster and multi-media displays were set up in the ballroom and moderated paper presentations, a new addition this year, took place in various locations on the second floor.

 The Keys/Litten/Smith awards were presented at the completion of the Symposium in Cardinal hall. These awards were established on behalf of Linda Keys, Jeffrey Litten, and Sandra Smith, who served in the Sponsored Programs Office for a combined total of thirty years. The awards recognize students for their outstanding research or creative endeavors presented at the Student Symposium. Six awards are given every year; two for outstanding displays and four for excellence in project content. Listed below are the 2014 award winners.

Display Award Winners:

Heather Daly 
Psychological Science
Psychophysiological Responses to Isolated Musical Chord Progressions 
Faculty Mentor: Don Ester
Music Education

Yi-Hsin Liu 
Natural Resources and Environmental Management
Nitroglycerin Decomposition in Soil as Affected by Presence of Co-Contaminants 
Faculty Mentor: John Pichtel
Natural Resources and Environmental Management

Content Award Winners:

Kayla Kmiecik 
Physical Education, Sport,and Exercise Science
Biomechanical Analysis of a Backward Somersault Landing and Drop Landing in Female Gymnasts Faculty Mentor: Henry Wang
Physical Education, Sport,and Exercise Science

Nolan Pachciarz 
The Effects of Dilantin on Male Fertility and Sperm Indices in Mice 
Faculty Mentor: Clare Chatot

Emily Johann 
Physical Education, Sport, and Exercise
Science Influence of Drop Height and Fatigue on Landing Mechanics in Recreationally Active Females 
Faculty Mentor: Clark Dickin
 Physical Education, Sport, and Exercise Science

Jamie Lau 
Comparing Five Macroinvertebrate Indices of Integrity: Are We Meeting National Water Quality Monitoring Intent?
Faculty Mentor: Thomas Lauer