I am currently working on five major areas as updated February 2019.
The first area is collecting data for my project: ‘Adolescent Eating Behavior Study’, supported by the Child Study Center Pilot grant. It is my first very own project, so I get the experience of doing a study ‘head to toe’. The project aims to investigate the neural correlates of eating behaviors in hunger and satiety states in adolescent girls. Three major factors drive eating, hunger, reward and inhibitory control. In this project we manipulate hunger, and evaluate the electrophysiological characteristics of reward and inhibitory control during both the hunger and satiety states. We hypothesize that the difference of hunger and satiety states would closely relate to individual differences in eating behavior and BMI. I am also working with colleagues on two heart rate variability and food craving papers. In the first paper we evaluate the prediction quality of different frequencies of heart rate variability with food craving in adolescents, which I will present in SRCD 2019. In the second paper, we will use the identified frequency and add additional relevant variables such as negative life events and stress to create a model to predict food craving.
Secondly, as a member of the Developmental Electrophysiology Laboratory I work closely with Dr. Linda Mayes and Dr. Michael Crowley on various topics relating to adolescents social and emotion development. I recently submitted a paper evaluating the Trier Social Stress Test and a control condition in 88 adolescents during a lab visit involving EEG. We found that the initial arrival of the lab created a significant amount of stress. We also found mid-age adolescents generated the most stress hormone compared to their younger and older peers. I am working on a manuscript depicting heart rate variability in social judgement and rejection tasks. I am working on data analysis on the electrophysiological responses of social rejection in high risk young adults in one project and regular adolescents in a second project.
Thirdly I am a member of the Yale DrivSim Laboratory led by Dr. Federico Vaca. With the help of high fidelity driving simulation and high density EEG, we are interested in studying the neural correlates of safety driving. Within the DrivSim lab, Dr. Deepa Camenga won the YCCI pilot funding to study the relation of cognitive development and driving behavior in high-risk young adults. Dr. Barbara Banz obtained a pilot funding to study inhibitory control and driving safety in adolescents and young adults. We submitted an R01 on adolescents driving and brain development and got a decent score. Finger crossed on the resubmission!
Fourth I am part of the team led by Kathleen Koenig to implement ‘Smart Moves’, an evidence based weight management program developed by Mary Savoye, in the out patient clinic of the Child Study Center. Obesity is a huge concern for children and adolescents, especially in the population with mental health issues. Research has shown that proper weight management can increase self-esteem, decrease anxiety and depression. Thus teaching ‘Smart moves’ can benefit the population that need the help.
Fifth I am starting a project measuring EEG and olfactory. The project is only at the pre-spark level, because we are still sorting out the equipment. The project will be very labor-intense, because I will have to carry our EEG system to a different location in the city, and because that to get an olfactory EEG the trial needs to be repeated many times and would need to record for a long time. But who knows, maybe this is “the spark that will fire up the whole plain”, because it is suggested and supported by Dr. Dana Small, who has the charm of convey profound ideas to you in a simplified way.
Besides the major projects I also work closely with other colleagues on signal processing on various projects. For example, I work with Dr. Denis Sukhodolsky on children with distractive behaviors. I work with Dr. Kristen Morie on reward processing of adolescents. I also help with oscillation and coherence analysis with Dr. Helena Rutherford.