Dear Readers


Simple questionnaire predicts unprotected sex, binge drinking

Valerie Reyna and Evan Wilhelms developed a new questionnaire for predicting who is likely to engage in risky behaviors, including, unprotected sex and binge drinking. Their questionnaire significantly outperforms 14 other gold-standard measures frequently used in economics and psychology.

  Study challenges model of Alzheimer's disease progression 

 The research of Professor Nathan Spreng and his collaborators sheds light on the basal forebrain region, where the degeneration of neural tissue caused by Alzheimer’s disease appears before cognitive and behavioral symptoms emerge.

 Social media boosts remembrance of things past

A new study – the first to look at social media’s effect on memory – suggests posting personal experiences on social media makes those events much easier to recall.

Experts Address Elder Financial Abuse as Global Problem

Financial exploitation of older people by those who should be protecting them results in devastating health, emotional and psychological consequences. International elder abuse experts met at Weill Cornell Medicine to map out a strategy for conducting research on this problem.

For kids, poverty means psychological deficits as adults

Childhood poverty can cause significant psychological deficits in adulthood, according to a sweeping new study by Professor Gary Evans. The research, conducted by tracking participants over a 15-year period, is the first to show this damage occurs over time and in a broad range of ways.


Miss New York Camille Sims fights for social justice     

Camille Sims '15 says fate brought her to Cornell and the Department of Human Development. And now it has propelled her to reign as Miss New York and to finish second runner-up in September's Miss America competition.

Summer Scholar Spotlight: Brian LaGrant ‘17       

Brian LaGrant ’17, a human development major from New Hartford, N.Y., discusses his research on factors surrounding imitation among children and adults.

Risky decisions and concussions

David Garavito, graduate student in the Law, Psychology, and Human Development Program, under the supervision of Dr. Valerie Reyna, is working with communities in New York and around the country with support from an Engaged Cornell grant for student research. He is working with coaches and student athletes to study the effects of concussions on decision making about risks.


Alzheimer’s early tell: The language of authors who suffered from dementia has a story for the rest of us

Adrienne Day writes about how Barbara Lust, professor in Human Development, and other researchers are studying changes in language patterns in early Alzheimer’s disease.


Listen to Associate Professor Corinna Loeckenhoff discuss self-continuity, or our perceived connections with our past and future selves.

Hear Professor Adam Anderson talk about his research in the podcast, "Brain waves: The science of emotion" for The Guardian.

HD-Today e-News is an important portal for disseminating research and outreach from the Department of Human Development to the public. In 2016, search engine optimization (SEO) strategies were implemented to assess what information on our website attracts readers and how to increase traffic to the site. Topics that have received the most attention from visitors include the death penalty, poverty, sexual orientation, child development, brain-reward systems, the research and outreach activities of Human Development students, depression among adolescents, and women in science. SEO applications have helped direct traffic to HD-Today which has increased by over 800% and we now have visitors from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, the U.K., Germany, Russia, India, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, and Australia! We look forward to sharing with you the latest research and outreach news from the Department of Human Development.


 whitlock460Online course brings self-injury to the surface                                                                     Janis Whitlock, Ph.D. ’03, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery (CRPSIR) and a research scientist in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, hopes to spotlight the issue by launching a set of web-based                                   education and training courses.
sad girlEarly puberty in girls raises the risk of depression                                                                   Perri Klass interviewed Jane Mendle in her NY Times' column, The Checkup, about Mendle's research with girls who begin puberty earlier than their peers. Read here about her findings and the risks these girls face in adolescence. 
LRDM lab members and 4-H Career Explorations studentsLearning to reduce risky behaviors leads to STEM careers                                                          The Laboratory for Rational Decision Making, led by Dr. Valerie Reyna in Human Development, welcomed 24 high school students from 18 different counties in New York State as part of  the 4-H Career Explorations Conference.
gsalogoGerontological Society selects experts on aging as fellows                     Professors Corinna Loeckenhoff and Elaine Wethington of human development, were two of 94 professionals named on May 31 to the society, which is the largest of its kind seeking to understand aging in the United States.

Students in the News

Sarah MooreHD graduate student in the news: Sarah R. Moore                                                             Sarah R. Moore, Ph.D. student of Dr. Richard A. Depue, was awarded the Early Career Outstanding Paper Award in Developmental Psychology. Read her summary of research on how people differ in their interaction with their environment.
MorenoMarcos Moreno '17 is named a 2016 Udall scholar                                                                  The Udall Scholarship supports undergraduates with excellent academic records and who show potential for careers in environmental public policy, health care and tribal public policy. Moreno is a human development major concentrating in neuroscience in                               the College of Human Ecology.
tumblr_inline_oab7iaDzqM1tqatqb_1280Summer Scholar Spotlight: Deborah Seok ‘17                                                                              In faculty research labs, in communities across the state, and at jobs and internships around the globe, Human Ecology undergrads are making a powerful impact this summer as they apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings.

 Articles on the Web

Robert SternbergHow can current research inform the development of new methods to assess intelligence?                                                                                                                                    Read the fifth post from the six-part series, "Researching Human Intelligence" on fifteeneightyfour, the blog of Cambridge University Press, with Robert Sternberg,                                           professor of human development.


video play buttonVideo introduces the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE), explaining it's mission and introducing key researchers and practitioners involved in the project.                                                                                                                                             
video play button                                                                                                                                                                    Professor Anthony Burrow Discusses Youth and Purpose with Karl Pillemer, Director of BCTR 


Ong & Loeckenhoff New book probes emotion, aging and health                                                                         New approaches to understanding physical and psychological changes in old age – differences in personality, for instance, or responses to stressful events and the role of positive emotions in promoting well-being – are presented in a new book co-edited                                       by Cornell human development professors Anthony Ong  and Corinna Loeckenhoff.                   
QiWangTNRetweeting may overload your brain                                                                                               In a digital world where information is at your fingertips, be prepared to hold on tight before it slips right through them. Research at Cornell and Beijing University finds retweeting or otherwise sharing information creates a “cognitive overload” that                                           interferes with learning and retaining what you’ve just seen.
bebesInside Cornell’s BABY Labs                                                                                                            Steven S. Robertson and Marianella Casasola, professors in Human Development, run baby labs at Cornell. where researchers are discovering more about the nuances of infant development. It’s a crucial area of academic research and exploration, given the                               impact early development has on later stages of life.
 20120827_rns74_portrait_25Mapping the Resting-state Brain                                                                                                         In the Department of Human Development, fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) informs Nathan Spreng’s studies of large-scale brain network dynamics and their role in cognition.
BaileyPSPIimage-200x300 Checking Up on the Science of Homosexuality                                                                               A new systematic review and commentary published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest takes a sweeping look at what the evidence says about homosexuality and sexual orientation in general. 

Student in the News

 Human Ecology Faculty-Led Undergraduate Research. Eve DeRosa / Annie EricksonSide by side                                                                                                                                       Many undergraduates in Human Development work side by side with faculty in the lab. Read about this transformative approach to learning in an interview with Annie Erickson '16 and her mentor, Professor Eve De Rosa.

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K.KinzlerStudies Suggest Multilingual Exposure Boosts Children's Communication Skills      Listen to NPR's Robert Siegel's interview with Katherine Kinzler, associate professor of psychology and human development, about her research on the development of social skills in monolingual and multilingual children.                                                                                 


video play button                                                                                                                                                          Professor Corinna Loeckenhoff talks about aging with Karl Pillemer, Director of the BCTR


Reyna_Valerie_webNSF award supports research on juror decision-making                                                             Cornell psychologist Valerie Reyna, along with co-investigator Valerie Hans from the Cornell Law School, has received a $390,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to better understand damage award decision-making.
news-102014-brain-320-240-20141020110956-300x224Researchers identify gene for ‘emotionally enhanced vividness                                              As research subjects viewed emotion-laden pictures while an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imagining) machine scanned their brains for activity, researchers in a Cornell-University of British Columbia-University of Toronto study began to think:                               Perhaps our genes really can regulate response to emotional information.
wedding ringsGerontologist finds the formula to a happy marriage                                                         With wedding season in full swing, America’s newlyweds stand to learn from the experts: older adults whose love has endured job changes, child-rearing, economic certainty, health concerns and other life challenges.
Banner-Logo-150x150ISS funds oral histories, election surveys, other work                                                                  Twice yearly, the Institute for the Social Sciences (ISS) provides up to $12,000 to tenured and tenure-track faculty through its peer-reviewed small grant program. This spring, faculty from six different colleges won awards.
Webster_County,_Nebraska_courthouse_courtroom_3When juries get the gist, their awards grow consistent                                                               For juries awarding plaintiffs for pain and suffering, the task is more challenging – and the results more inconsistent – than awarding for economic damages, which is formulaic. Now, Cornell social scientists show how to reduce wide variability for                                           monetary judgments in those cases: Serve up the gist.
think positiveBeing positive amid daily stress is good for long-term health                                          Relax. Breathe. It’s all small stuff. When faced with life’s daily challenges, adults who don’t maintain a positive outlook have shown elevated physiological markers for inflaming cardiovascular and autoimmune disease, according to new research by                                         Cornell University and Penn State psychologists.

Students in the News

20150713_4h_camp_610_2759CCE 2015 Health and the Brain Neuroscience Outreach Experience
Department of Human Development student, Stacey Chen '18, had the pleasure of combining the ultimate camp experience with the experience of working in a laboratory and conducting exciting, cutting-edge in-field research on decision making.

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4327-Bilingual-Vis-Dic-Fren                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Do bilingual homes raise better communicators?

justice scale                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Make your damages numbers meaningful - Juries, awards, and litigation

man-219928_640                                                                                                                                                                   Sexist image of male scientists is wrong

Urban_backpacking                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           A gap year does not weaken study success

 baby eeg                                                                                                                                                                  New EEG method for studying how nutrition affects infant memory

 New Resources

video play button                                                                                                                                                          Valerie Reyna's laboratory was selected for OBSSR 20th Anniversary Video Competition - "I AM A BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENTIST"
video play button                                                                                                                                                                    Professor Robert Sternberg isn’t interested in your IQ
 video play button                                                                                                                                                                    Convicted by law, acquitted by social science


urieTND50 years later, recalling a founder of Head Start                                                                          A half century ago, Cornell developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner gave Congressional testimony that eventually led to the creation of the Head Start program.
Language-loss study reveals early signs of AAlzheimersWord_465x170lzheimer's disease                                               Loss of early childhood language skills, rather than those skills attained later in life, might be a predictor for Alzheimer's disease, according to a new Cornell study.

Ceci-TND70x70Stephen Ceci elected to National Academy of Education                                             Stephen Ceci, Cornell’s Helen L. Carr Professor of Developmental Psychology, has been elected to the National Academy of Education for his outstanding scholarship on education.

Chancel Award Metal18 Cornellians win SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Excellence                                    Eighteen students, faculty and staff in Cornell's contract colleges have won State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor's Awards for Excellence for 2015.
Chinese_flag_(Beijing)_-_IMG_1104Lehman Fund makes 10 awards for China Study                                                                           Fourteen Cornell scholars received 2015 awards from the Jeffrey S. Lehman Fund for Scholarly Exchange with China. 
older people dancingPrevailing over pain                                                                                                                               Human Ecology's Translational Research Institute for Pain in Later Life, received a $1.95 million grant from National Institute on Aging.
Anthony BurrowAnthony Burrow among faculty saluted by OADI
Cornell’s Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives held its second annual awards, named after George Washington Fields and 9 other Cornellian trailblazers.

Students in the News

Anna Zhu Smart choice:  Award-winning app connects patients and hospitals
Department of Human Development graduate, Anna Zhu '14, developed an app to help patients find the hospital that best matches their health needs.
great minds 3.400HD Students present their research at 30th CURB forum
HD students were among the 120 undergraduates who presented their research at Duffield Hall as part of the annual event hosted by the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board (CURB)

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Why Americans are obsessed with telling their own stories
Focus on protecting elderly from fraud and fleecing
A five-step guide to not being stupid
How courts should hear from children
The myth about women in science
> How children develop the idea of free will

 New Resources

Urie mag_cover_200x258
Urie: The scientist who remade the field of human development                                                                     Fifty years after the launch of Head Start, Urie Bronfenbrenner-one of the architects of the federal program for underserved families-is remembered as a giant in his field. Former students, research partners, and Cornell faculty members share their thoughts on the late Bronfenbrenner's legacy as a scholar, mentor, researcher, and champion for youth and families. Also in this issue: A tour through 150 Years of Big Red fashion; gerontologist Karl Pillemer's latest book, sharing elder wisdom on love and marriage; long-running, legendary courses in the College of Human Ecology; alumni and campus updates and special sesquicentennial content.
> The Memory Factory


rx12-16-TND 70x70Fuzzy reasoning by patients may lead to antibiotic resistance
Valerie Reyna's "fuzzy-trace" theory explains why patients demand antibiotics even though they may be suffering from a virus.
Ethics12-8-TNDBook urges scientists to wrestle with ethical dilemmas
A new book edited by Cornell psychologist Robert Sternberg, “Ethical Challenges in the Brain and Behavioral Sciences: Case Studies and Commentaries," offers real-world case studies.

elderabuse11-10-TND (1)Elder-to-elder abuse is common in nursing homes
Nearly one in five nursing home residents in 10 facilities across New York state were involved in at least one aggressive encounter with fellow residents during the four weeks prior to a study by researchers at Cornell and Weill Cornell.

ISSgrants12-4-TNDInstitute for the Social Sciences supports faculty research
Institute for the Social Sciences grants support several faculty research projects in human development, government, communication, engineering and anthropology.
 Karl PillemerKarl Pillemer to lead Bronfenbrenner Center
Cornell gerontologist Karl Pillemer will become director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research Jan. 15, taking over for John Eckenrode, who has been the center's director since it was founded in 2011.
 51CH6HgCPmL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Book offers advice for and by academic leaders
The new book "Academic Leadership in Higher Education: From the Top Down and the Bottom Up," co-edited by Cornell professor Robert Sternberg, offers advice for new faculty administrators.

Students in the News

young couple Trenel Francis '16 analyzes 'hook-up culture'
While many college students may be familiar with the idea of “hooking up” as a routine social interaction, Francis analyzed the phenomenon more closely in a study she performed last summer with the University of Cincinnati.

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The hidden power of the experienced mind

 New Resources

Elaine Wethington on Cities and the Life Course


scientist Ceci, Williams find ‘changing landscape’ for women in science
A comprehensive review of why female academics are underrepresented in math-intensive fields by Steve Ceci and Wendy Williams points to a surprising conclusion – bias in hiring and promotion is not the culprit – the roots of the problem begin much earlier.
toddlers Young children actively transmit culture
Social context influences children’s transmission of information, perhaps playing a role in the dissemination of cultural conventions from a young age, finds a recent study by Tamar Kushnir, Marianella Casasola, and graduate student Chris Vredenburgh.
daydreaming Reminiscing can help, not hinder, some mind-bending tasks
New research led by Cornell neuroscientist Nathan Spreng shows for the first time that engaging brain areas linked to so-called “off-task” mental activities can actually boost performance on some challenging mental tasks.
purpose Sense of purpose might ease diversity anxiety
Envisioning an increasingly diverse America causes anxiety for a lot of white people. Except, that is, whites with a defined “purpose in life,” a study by Anthony Burrow found.
teen Gist, not rational analysis, cuts risky behavior
Teaching adolescents to think more simply and categorically about risks helps them make healthier choices, finds a recently published, randomized experiment by Cornell psychologist Valerie Reyna.


Study cracks brain’s emotional code
The human brain turns feelings them into a standard code that objectively represents emotions across different senses, situations and even people, reports a new study by Cornell neuroscientist Adam Anderson.
Book lauds land-grant university model
The land-grant university, 150 years after its inception, remains an extraordinary and compelling model for higher education, with ideas and ideals relevant to even the most elite academies, contends Robert Sternberg in “The Modern Land-Grant University.”
Book examines hows and whys of economic choices
Drawing on perspectives from the early roots of psychology through the latest neuroscience, the new volume edited by Valerie Reyna and graduate student Evan Wilhelms introduces what we know about how and why people make decisions with economic consequences.
Poor neighborhoods – not poor parents – pack on pounds
By age 2, poor children have gained more weight than those who are better off. But after age 2, neighborhood poverty, not family poverty, is linked to weight gain, finds a new study by Gary Evans.
Girls’ perceptions drive sexual behavior
Jane Mendle’s latest research suggests that genetic factors related to how sexually mature a girl thinks she is influence her sexual behavior, above and beyond her actual physical development.
Online avatar helps demystify breast cancer risk
Valerie Reyna and colleagues developed a computer-based system using artificial intelligence designed to mimic one-on-one human tutoring to help women understand breast cancer genetics.
Kids’ earliest memories might be earlier than they think
The very earliest childhood memories might begin even earlier than anyone realized – including the rememberer, his or her parents and memory researchers, according to new research by Qi Wang.
Survey: ‘Mostly heterosexuals’ have more health problems
The largest minority on the sexual-orientation spectrum – the mostly heterosexuals, estimated at around 7 percent of the general adult population – report more health problems than heterosexuals and somewhat fewer than bisexuals finds a review by Ritch Savin-Williams.
Institute for the Social Sciences grants awards
Nathan Spreng is among those who received research awards from the Insititute for the Social Sciences in the Fall of 2013 for research on Brain Network Dynamics.

Students in the News

Win or lose, this computer game teaches biology
Andrew Jefferson, a graduate student in the field of human development, is spearheading development of video games to teach young people about science.
Undergrads convey their research prowess at forums
More than 20 of the students presenting at the Cornell Undergraduate Research Forum were HD majors or worked with a professor in the department.

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Experts offer new findings on youth at research update
Service-learning event honors student, faculty projects
Workshop offers roadmap to link research, practice
Moving beyond IQ
Expressions of fear and disgust aided human survival, study says
The aging brain network
Love is a story

New Resources

Embryos, stem cells, human meaning and policy
Media Literacy


Study: Facial expressions evolved from optical needs
The near-opposite facial expressions of fear and disgust are rooted in emotional responses that exploit how our eyes gather and focus light to detect an unknown threat, found a study by Cornell neuroscientist, Adam Anderson.
Low-income home strife drives earlier teen sex
Environmental influences – rather than genetic propensities – are more important in predicting the age when adolescents from stressful backgrounds become sexually active, reports a recent study by Jane Mendle.
Adapted arthritis program boosts participation
Enhancing an arthritis program’s content and delivery with help from community partners improved program attendance, while maintaining the same physical and mental health benefits as the original, reports a recent study by Cary Reid and Karl Pillemer.
Child abuse and neglect rise with income inequality
Income inequality increases the risk of child abuse and neglect according to a nationwide study by John Eckenrode and colleagues.
Book highlights memory’s role as social glue
Memory’s crucial impact on our ability to establish and maintain social bonds is the focus of Nathan Spreng’s new book.
New institute focuses on human brain research
The new Human Neuroscience Institute in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, directed by Valerie Reyna, aims to advance research on the neural basis of human behavior.
Study: Ads can influence ‘smart’ false memories
Consumers who have a propensity to think more about decisions produce more false memories than those who process information at a more superficial level found a new study by Charles Brainerd and colleagues.
  New project to explore natural mentoring
Steve Hamilton has received funding from the William T. Grant Foundation for a study that aims to improve our understanding of natural mentoring relationships.
Young ‘pranksters’ skewed landmark sexuality study
A widely cited study in the mid-1990s appears to have misrepresented the number of homosexual and bisexual youth potentially because questions were answered incorrectly either on purpose or through misunderstanding, according to Ritch Savin-Williams.

Students in the News

Hooking up for the ‘wrong reasons’ tied to poorer health
College students’ intentions for engaging in casual sex influence how it affects their mental and physical health, reports a recent study by graduate student Zhana Vrangalova.

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‘Neurodinners’ offer smorgasbord of research ideas

The time is now to bring the fight to dementia

Ten money lessons from elderly Americans

Kids may suffer in gap between haves and have-nots

The ironic adverse effects of expertise

New Resources

Study reveals origins of facial expressions
Sternberg on culture, intelligence and education
Minority youth see science as a ticket up