SPUR 2022: EMOTION REGULATION IN DEPRESSION AND THE AGING BRAIN

Mentor Name:
Joseph Kim

Mentor Position:
Assistant Professor

Department:
Psychiatry

College:
Medicine

Email:
joseph.kim@utah.edu


Project Description:

**This project is a part of the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR), which provides undergraduate students with an intensive 10-week research experience under the mentorship of a University of Utah faculty member. SPUR 2022 begins on May 25 and ends on August 4. If you are interested in this project, please review all program information on the SPUR site. If you wish to apply to this project, you must apply using the SPUR 2022 application.**

Using strategies to control emotions serves as a critical basis for effective social interactions and decision-making. Most of what we know about emotion regulation (ER) come from studies of young adults. However, we cannot assume what we know about younger adults apply to older adults, as there are differences in how the brain functions as we age. Data suggest that these age-related differences become particularly apparent among individuals with a long history of depression. In order to develop effective interventions for older adults, it is critical to study both the brain and behavioral bases of ER in the context of aging. We will study individuals with no history of depression symptoms, in addition to aging adults with lifetime history of depression that present with a range of current depression symptom severity (from mild to moderate). Because intact executive functioning (EF) is a critical component to successful ER, and because EF is known to decline with aging, we will also investigate EF skills and their brain bases as a variable that could impact ER.



Opportunity Type:

This is a paid research position


Student Role:

Student will participate in various aspects of recruitment, data collection, and preliminary analyses of data for this project Her specific roles include (but are not limited to): Screening of potential study participants for study eligibility via brief cognitive and medical screening and additional review of medical records, as necessary: Student will perform phone-screenings of interested prospective study participants by performing interviews via phone/zoom calls. Provide assistance with neuropsychological and behavioral assessment data collection with healthy, depressed, and cognitively impaired older adults: Student will function as a a critical part of the research team by helping set up, and run virtual and in-person neuropsychological and behavioral (some computerized) tests. Data entry and quality check of entered data with additional preliminary data processing and analyses duties, as needed: Student will serve a crucial role in initial and/or double entry of raw data into REDCap database with additionally assigned tasks to perform data management for further analyses by the research team.


Student Benefits:

Learning outcome 1: Learning how to effectively interact with healthy and depressed older adult population to screen for eligibility based on their healthy history and self-report. Associated benefit: Student will learn the effective use of interview skills in the context of behavioral research. Learning outcome 2: Learning how to administer neuropsychological tests and computerized behavioral tests in the context of aging research. Associated benefit: Student will become familiarized with the basic principles of neuropsychological assessment and behavioral testing, and will be able to acquire the basic skills to administer the tests to research participants across the life span (especially in older adults). Learning outcome 3: Learning how to manage and quality check various types of research data. Associated benefit: Student will learn the specifics of using databases for entry and verification of collected data, and additionally learn to process entered data using appropriate software for further analyses.


Project Duration:

35-40 hours per week on research and program-related activities, begins May 25, 2022, and ends August 4, 2022


Minimum Requirements:

Admission to the program is competitive. Applicants must meet all of the following criteria: 1) be a matriculated, degree-seeking undergraduate student in the Fall 2022 semester (beginning or continuing college career in Fall 2022 and not graduating before December 2022; concurrent enrollment while in high school does not meet this eligibility requirement). Applicants do not need to be a University of Utah student. 2) eligible to work in the United States: If you are a University of Utah Dreamer (with or without DACA), you are eligible to participate. U Dreamers with DACA will be hired and paid through U payroll. U Dreamers without DACA who graduated from a Utah high school will be compensated via a different mechanism. If you are a Dreamer from a different institution: If you have DACA, you are eligible to participate and will be hired and paid though U payroll. If you do not have DACA, you are able to participate and gain research experience, but we do not currently have a mechanism that allows us to compensate you. For more information, please contact Megan Shannahan at megan.shannahan@utah.edu or 801-581-2478. If you are an international student or scholar, you must either a) be a degree-seeking undergraduate student at the University of Utah, OR b) possess documentation that establishes your eligibility to work in the United States (if you hold US citizenship, it is likely you have these documents). 3) able to commit to approximately 35-40 hours per week of employment at the University of Utah for the entire duration of the program (May 25-August 4, 2022). 4) at least 18 years old by May 23, 2022 (required if you wish to use on-campus housing; preferred if you will not be using on-campus housing).