Robert Sternberg, professor of human development, discusses the intersection of his research on intelligence and creativity and its importance to education in an illuminating interview with Izabela Lebuda. His reflections on his professional career and insights into how his theories develop is a fascinating process. Sternberg also offers evidence-based words of wisdom to future research of creativity. This interview is a preview of his forthcoming book, Adaptive Intelligence: Surviving and Thriving in Times of Uncertainty,
Charles Brainerd was elected to the National Academy of Education (NAEd) for his scholarly contributions in the field of education research. Brainerd’s research has had a deep impact on educational, developmental and cognitive psychology.
Robert J. Sternberg, professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology, has been selected to receive the 2017 William James Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science. The award honors members for their lifetime of outstanding intellectual contributions to psychology.
Jane Mendle was awarded the Stephen H. Weiss Junior Fellowship which has a term of five years. She was recommended by the selection committee for her passion for her subject and for teaching, her interactive lectures and creative assignments.
In a new study by Anthony Ong, one of the first to link daily racial slights and insults to quality of sleep. The more instances of subtle racial discrimination the participants experienced, the worse the effect on how long and how well they slept.
A study by Wendy Williams of college and university administrators has found that female department chairs, deans, and provosts have different attitudes and beliefs than their male counterparts about hiring women professors in STEM fields - women administrators emphasize policies that attract and retain women.
Adam Anderson, in Human Development's Human Neuroscience Institute, has received a grant from the Irlen Syndrome Foundation for an fMRI project being conducted at the Cornell MRI Facility on the relationship between color processing and other cognitive processes in the brain.
Eve De Rosa, associate professor of human development and an expert in the neurochemistry of cognition explains how her research on the neurochemical acetylcholine led her to Cornell.
STUDENTS IN THE NEWS
Amelia Hritz, the first student in Human Development's Dual PhD and JD Program in Developmental Psychology and Law, was honored at the Law School graduation celebration.
The Department of Human Development commended the graduating seniors of 2017 who made exceptional contributions to research and outreach.
Watch Eve De Rosa and Adam Anderson talk about how emotion affects our vision and perception of reality.
Listen to Katherine Kinzler talk about how child food preferences are linked to how children learn about people.
Reprinted from the Cornell Chronicle, March 8, 2017.
Charles Brainerd, professor and chair of the Department of Human Development in the College of Human Ecology, and 13 other scholars nationwide have been elected the newest members of the National Academy of Education (NAEd) for their scholarly contributions in the field of education research.
NAEd advances high-quality education research and its use in policy and practice. It consists of 209 U.S. members and 11 foreign associates who are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarship related to education.
“It was not something that I anticipated and came as a surprise,” Brainerd said. “For me, this is another indicator of the international stature of the human development department.”
Brainerd joins fellow Cornell NAEd members Stephen Ceci, Ronald Ehrenberg, Robert Sternberg and Kenneth Strike.
Brainerd has published more than 300 research articles and chapters and more than 20 books. His research covers human memory and decision-making, statistics and mathematical modeling, cognitive neuroscience, learning, intelligence, cognitive development, learning disability and child abuse.
Within the field, Brainerd’s research is known for having had deep impacts on educational, developmental and cognitive psychology, and he is credited with major breakthroughs across both his theoretical and empirical contributions.
His current research centers on the relation between memory and higher reasoning abilities in children and adults, also focusing on false-memory phenomena, cognitive neuroscience, aging and neurocognitive impairment.
Academy members are tapped to serve on expert study panels and are also engaged in NAEd’s professional development programs, including postdoctoral and dissertation fellowship programs.
“It’s an opportunity to serve,” said Brainerd. “The national academy forms committees and study groups of leading scholars to work on important issues in higher education – important and prominent questions of the day – and provides advice and leadership on those questions.”
Stephen D'Angelo is assistant director of communications for the College of Human Ecology.
Reprinted from the Cornell Chronicle, March 6, 2017.
By Susan Kelley
Robert J. Sternberg, professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology, has been selected to receive the 2017 William James Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science. The award is given annually and honors association members for their lifetime of outstanding intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology.
Sternberg will receive the award and deliver an address during the association’s 29th annual convention May 25-28 in Boston. His address will discuss society’s promotion of intelligence at the expense of wisdom, resulting in an overpopulation of “smart fools:” people with decent or even stellar IQs whose preoccupation with themselves and others they perceive to be “like them” – at the expense of people “not like them” – imperils society and the world.
Sternberg transformed the study of intelligence with his “triarchic” theory of successful intelligence. It distinguishes among three aspects of intelligence: analytical, creative and practical. In a more recent augmented version of the theory, Sternberg has added a fourth aspect: wisdom. Within this framework, Sternberg and his colleagues have developed assessments to identify people who are gifted in ways that IQ and other standardized tests do not capture. According to Sternberg, successful intelligence is one’s developed ability to create and implement a meaningful life plan that enables one to achieve success according to one’s own concept of success, and to work toward achieving a common good.
“I’m honored to receive this award, which reflects in small part my contributions over the years and in large part the contributions of my advisers, students and family to making my career possible,” Sternberg said. “The award thus is really a collective one, as are all scientific awards, to the large network of colleagues and family who contribute to an individual career.”
Sternberg has tested and supported his intelligence theories using several kinds of methods. These include reaction time and error rate, cultural, convergent and discriminant, and instructional analysis, among other methods. His insights have had relevance for teaching, university admissions policy, the understanding of developmental processes and the prediction of leadership potential, the association said.
Sternberg is the author of more than 1,600 peer-reviewed research publications. His work has been cited by academic authors 124,410 times. He is the third-most frequently cited living author in introductory-psychology textbooks.
“His prolific efforts in bringing theories, methods and applications together in landmark handbooks and other publications have advanced our ability to facilitate human achievement,” according to a statement from the association.
Sternberg is past president of several national organizations, including the American Psychological Association and the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. He is also the editor of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Sternberg previously won the James McKeen Cattell Award from the same association for his contributions to applications of psychological science.
Reprinted and abridged from the Cornell Chronicle, February 9, 2017.
by Daniel Aloi
Jane Mendle, associate professor of human development, was awarded the Stephen H. Weiss Junior Fellowship which has a term of five years.
The fellowship winners were announced by Interim President Hunter Rawlings at a recognition event in the Groos Family Atrium in Klarman Hall.
Established in 1992, the Weiss Presidential Fellowship was conceived by the late Stephen H. Weiss ’57, chairman emeritus of the board of trustees, to recognize tenured Cornell faculty members for the teaching and mentoring of undergraduates. Two or three recipients are named each year; in addition to a respected scholarly career, the recipients have sustained records of effective, inspiring and distinguished teaching and contributions to undergraduate education.
The Junior Fellows Award is given to two recently tenured associate professors each year for excellence in teaching and notable scholarship.
Jane Mendle is a New York state-licensed clinical psychologist who joined the human development faculty in 2011. She directs the Adolescent Transitions Lab, and her research in adolescent psychology includes a focus on how aspects of puberty relate to psychological well-being. She was recommended by the selection committee for her passion for her subject and for teaching, her interactive lectures and creative assignments. Her students describe her as enthusiastic and approachable, and noted her dedication to advising and devoting time to students needing extra help. Colleagues also praised her service on her department’s undergraduate education committee.
Mendle’s research has been profiled by The New York Times, The Washington Post, the BBC, The Economist, USA Today, Newsweek and other media outlets. She has awards from the Society of Research on Adolescence, the Behavior Genetics Association and the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, and was named a rising star by the Association for Psychological Science.
Reprinted from the Cornell Chronicle, March 13, 2017.
By Susan Kelley
Asian-Americans are often seen as “model” minorities whose success is often attributed to a lack of barriers, such as racism and discrimination, that might prevent upward mobility.
But a new Cornell study – one of the first to link daily racial slights and insults to quality of sleep – found that nearly 80 percent of study participants dealt with at least one “microaggression” during the study’s two-week period.
The more instances of subtle racial discrimination the participants experienced, the worse the effect on how long and how well they slept. Days with more racial bias tended to be followed by nights with poorer sleep quality and significantly less sleep.
And those who were more sensitive to race-based rejection fared even worse when it came to sleep, said the study’s co-author, Anthony Ong, associate professor of human development.
“Being constantly vigilant to race-related threats in the environment may keep you from getting a good night’s sleep,” said Ong, who is also associate professor of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.
The paper, “Stigma consciousness, racial microaggressions and sleep disturbance among Asian Americans,” was published Jan. 23 in the Asian American Journal of Psychology. Ong co-wrote the paper with Rebecca A. Lee ’08, communications director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which works to increase those groups’ access to and participation in federal programs.
Racial microaggression themes reported by Asian-Americans during the two-week study included feeling like a perpetual foreigner or “alien in one’s own land,” (for example, “I was told I speak good English”), having one’s cultural values and communication styles pathologized (“I was teased for not using Western utensils”), and being exoticized (“I heard it suggested that Asian women are passive”) or emasculated (“I overheard it suggested that many women find Asian men unattractive).” The researchers asked 152 Asian-American college students to keep a diary for two weeks, recording daily events, their moods and their physical health.
Nearly 60 percent of the participants were Chinese-American and 13 percent were of Asian Indian descent. The remainder were smaller percentages people of Taiwanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Japanese and other Asian descent. The majority were second-generation Asian-Americans. Nearly a third were born in Asia and came to the United States as a child.
In the diaries, they noted whether or not they had experienced any of 20 racial microaggressions, and how long and how well they slept the previous night.
And they were assessed on their expectations of race-related prejudice and discrimination, rating how strongly they agreed with statements such as “I usually worry that my behaviors will be viewed as stereotypically Asian” and “Most white Americans have a problem viewing Asian-Americans as equals.”
“Our findings underscore the necessity for greater public awareness concerning the frequency and adverse impact of racial microaggressions in the everyday lives of Asian-Americans,” Ong said. “These findings also challenge the longstanding sociocultural belief that Asian-Americans are model minorities who face little in the form racial barriers such as racism and discrimination.”
Ong and Lee’s co-authors are Christian Cerrada of the University of Southern California and David R. Williams of Harvard University.
Adam Anderson, in Human Development's Human Neuroscience Institute, has received a grant from the Irlen Syndrome Foundation for an fMRI project being conducted at the Cornell MRI Facility on the relationship between color processing and other cognitive processes in the brain. Helen Irlen, founder of the Irlen Institute, identified a perceptual processing impairment, now referred to as Irlen Syndrome, which affects the brain's ability to process specific wavelengths of light. Below is a reprint of Dr. Anderson's blog entry on the Irlen Syndrome Foundation website.
“Color alters brain activity in ways that extend well beyond color perception to influence brain regions supporting perception, thought, language, and emotion.”
Study #1: How Color Affects Brain Activity
We have just finished our first study on color and brain activity. In our efforts to understand the role of color on brain function, we examined how different colors influence brain activity patterns. Well beyond color perception, we found colors have distinct roles not only in altering visual system activity, including the primary visual cortex and the thalamus, but also higher level regions including the parahippocampal gyrus (involved in representing the environment) and the middle temporal gyrus (involved in language processing and motion perception). We also found colors influence limbic regions involved in emotions and feelings, including the anterior insula (emotional body states) and the ventral tegmental area (VTA, a region that produces Dopamine, a neurochemical that influences reward processing and cognition throughout the cortex). In sum, color alters brain activity in ways that extend well beyond color perception to influence brain regions supporting perception, thought, language and emotion. Although preliminary, such results provide foundational support for color filters as means to alter brain activity patterns in focal brain regions, and the functions these regions support. These results lay the foundational neuroscience groundwork for future studies looking specifically at Irlen Spectral Filters.
Study #2: How Color Influences Perception, Cognition, and Emotion: Irlen as a Brain-Based Condition
In our current study, we are building upon our earlier findings and undertaking more focused examinations of the influence of color on how information from the eye is represented in the brain, and the transmission of that information to the higher order portions of the brain that support perception, cognition (e.g., language and thought), and emotion. This study also assesses how colors influence brain activity to alter performance on tasks, including perceptual, cognitive and affective judgments. Results from this research will shed light on the neural mechanisms by which color can modulate brain activity and alter brain function. This study also examines the presence of Irlen Syndrome symptoms in the population at large, their neural bases, and whether these patterns of neural dysregulation are altered by color. These findings should help establish how, rather than a retinal visual disorder, Irlen Syndrome arises from dysregulated brain networks, with different brain regions supporting specific symptoms.
Reprinted from Ezra Magazine, Spring 2017
Students surreptitiously texting from the back of the classroom – while half-paying attention to the lecture – probably think professors don't know what's going through their minds.
Eve De Rosa, associate professor of human development and an expert in the neurochemistry of cognition, knows precisely what's coursing through those multitasking brains: the neurochemical acetylcholine.
As De Rosa explains: "Acetylcholine is best known for its role in Alzheimer's disease, but we're learning more about its contributions to cognition in people of all ages."
"The guiding hypothesis for the work I do," she adds, "is asking whether something like Alzheimer's, generally thought to be a memory disorder, is actually an encoding disorder, with information not getting 'packaged' and not reaching memory centers of the brain in the first place."
One task for the rats in De Rosa's lab is to use their noses to choose particular symbols on a touch screen. They learn this trick quickly and efficiently – unless their brains are short on acetylcholine.
De Rosa came to Cornell in 2013 and says that from the start, she could detect a certain "collaborative energy" in the air.
"I'd been at University of Toronto for a decade when I guest lectured about my rat work to researchers in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior," she recalls. "After the talk, people asked about acetylcholine in human cognition, so I continued to speak about my work with children and the elderly. A few weeks later, faculty from human development contacted me and said, 'Have you ever thought of moving?'"
Happily ensconced at Toronto, De Rosa was reluctant to accept the invitation – until she recalled her interactions with Cornellians. "There was so much palpable, collaborative energy and creativity here," De Rosa says, "and that's what attracted me to Cornell."
De Rosa's teaching responsibilities include pre-med courses, like Neurochemistry of Human Behavior, where undergraduates learn about the Nobel Prize-worthy discovery, in 1915, of acetylcholine. The phenomenon of nerves using chemicals to communicate was deduced from acetylcholine's action on the heart. Among her collaborators is spouse Adam Anderson, also an associate professor of human development and a neuroscientist specializing in the role of emotion in human faculties.
Their research project? How the heart and mind are connected through chemistry – which has led to further collaboration, with electrical and computer engineering's Bruce Land.
Amelia Hritz, the first student in Human Development's Dual PhD and JD Program in Developmental Psychology and Law, was featured in a recent post reprinted from the Cornell Law School website, May 17, 2017.
Two weeks before its 2017 convocation, Cornell Law School celebrated twenty-two, soon-to-be graduates who received coveted judicial clerkships. The celebration included a champagne toast by faculty, alumni, and staff at Myron Taylor Hall.
The event was the first of its kind to highlight the growing number of graduates who clerk for judges at all levels of the state and federal court systems across the country. The future clerks were honored by Eduardo Peñalver, the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law; John Blume, the Samuel F. Leibowitz Professor of Trial Techniques; and Judge Richard Wesley ’74 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
"Over the last decade, we've definitely seen an increase in the number of clerkships for each graduating class," said Elizabeth Peck, assistant dean for professional development and clerkships. "Clerkships have become a much greater priority for our institution."
One way the Law School has made a stronger commitment to clerkships was by creating a new position for Peck to help current law students and recent graduates land clerking positions. The Clerkship Celebration, held on April 26, is another way the law school is highlighting the value of clerkships.
"Securing a judicial clerkship is a 'capstone event' based on years of hard work and academic excellence, both before our students arrive at Cornell and during their time here with us, high above Cayuga's waters," Blume, chair of the faculty clerkship committee, said at the event.
Amelia Courtney Hritz, ’17, who is working on a Ph.D. in Cornell's joint program in developmental psychology and law, was one of the graduates honored at the celebration. She will clerk for Judge Peter Hall ’77 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for a one-year term beginning in 2019.
"I'm excited to learn more about how judges think by observing what types of legal arguments are persuasive to Judge Hall," Hritz said. "I think that by clerking I will gain a different perspective and become a better lawyer."
Hritz, former editor in chief of the Cornell Law Review, said she became interested in the Second Circuit when the Law Review published a special volume containing biographies of all the judges who served on the court for its 125th anniversary last year. She decided to pursue clerking while taking the class, Federal Appellate Practice, which Wesley and Blume co-taught last fall.
Peck, a former clerk herself, said clerking for a judge allows graduates to sharpen their skills in a number of areas, including legal research and writing. "It also provides clerks with a lifelong mentor and great networking opportunities," she said. "It's the kind of credential that will be valuable for the rest of their careers."