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2019-2020 Colloquia Archive


Fall 2019

September 25, 2019

Headshot of Dr. Kang Lee

Speaker: Dr. Kang Lee

Topic: Transdermal optical imaging and its applications in psychological research and practice

Abstract: In this talk, I will describe a novel contactless and non-invasive method called Transdermal Optical Imaging for measuring physiological and psychological states in humans. This method uses conventional digital video cameras to obtain blood flow signals from under the epidermis of the skin. I will present experimental evidence regarding the reliability and validity of this method in measuring heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, stress, and inner emotions in adults and children. Finally, I will discuss the potential applications of this method in psychological research with children and adults as well as its use in clinical practices.

Archived Session

October 23, 2019

Headshot of Dr.Norman Farb

Speaker: Dr. Norman Farb

Topic: An ounce of prevention...exploring "light touch" interventions for empowering student self-care.

Abstract: Student distress is widely acknowledged but rarely proactively addressed; preventative medicine is still often seen as a nice idea but expensive or difficult to implement. And yet, the spread of smartphones, internet access, and online research platforms could empower a new generation of cheap, scalable mental health support. Sampling from undergraduate students at the University of Toronto, it is evident that students show significantly elevated levels of distress over the school term, and that distress can be largely predicted by student evaluation schedules. Encouragingly, distress levels seem responsive to brief (< 5 min) online daily interventions, particularly when such interventions focus on scaffolding student reflection on general self-care. With proper validation, ‘light touch’ interventions may be tolerable to students and serve as an effective and scalable resource for supporting student well-being over the academic term.

Archived Session

November 20, 2019

Headshot of Dr. Jessica Sommerville

Speaker: Dr. Jessica Sommerville

Topic: The origins of social learning: Lessons from Infants and toddlers

Abstract: In this talk I will discuss three features of learning over the first two years of life,. First, I will discuss evidence demonstrating that infants’ and toddlers’ learning is inherently social. Second, I will show how parents and caregivers are critical figures for helping infants learn about the norms and values of their environment and culture. Third, I will discuss new evidence that while even young infants are keenly attentive to the social information that parents provide, infants do not merely soak up, or reproduce social input from others. Rather, they integrate information with their own pre-existing knowledge and abilities to form novel inferences about the world around them. As a whole, these findings suggest that infants are active and adaptive learners par excellence. Moreover, the learning processes that infants invoke “in the wild” generate important take home messages for facilitating learning across a broad range of environments and populations.

*Due to a technical glitch this session was not recorded. We apologize for this inconvenience.

December 11, 2019

Headshot of Dr. Angela Pyle

Speaker: Dr. Angela Pyle

Topic: The Implementation of Play in Kindergarten Classrooms: How, When and Why?

Abstract: Play has been widely acknowledged as beneficial to children’s learning and development, resulting in policies mandating the inclusion of play-based learning in classrooms around the world. However, how to implement play in classrooms has been widely debated, with researchers and educators alike questioning the role adults should assume in children’s play and whether a play-based pedagogical approach can truly support academic learning. The extant research addressing these issues is largely dichotomous in nature, recommending differing approaches depending on the focal learning, resulting in the presentation of contradictory messages to educators who work with our youngest learners. This talk will address these contradictory recommendations using classroom-based data to describe the current state of play in classrooms and the possibilities for children’s learning and development when educators integrate these dichotomous recommendations.

*Due to confidential content, this session was not recorded.

Location: Please note this event will be held at JICS (45 Walmer Rd.)

Winter 2020 

January 22, 2020

Headshot of Dr. Victor Kuperman

Speaker: Dr. Victor Kuperman

Topic: First findings from the Multilingual Eye-Movement Corpus: reading in English as L2.

Abstract: The Multilingual Eye-Movement Corpus (MECO) is a collection of (currently) 10 samples, in which speakers of diverse languages read texts for comprehension in their L1 and English as L2 and complete tests of multiple verbal and cognitive skills. This talk will focus on English reading comprehension data from the Canadian, Israeli, German, Belgian (Flemish), Turkish, Italian, Russian, Finnish, Spanish, and Greek samples. We will analyze the eye-movement patterns and accuracy of answering comprehension questions as indices of fluency and quality of L2 reading comprehension across samples. We will further discuss contributions of known predictors of L2 reading comprehension, including L1 proficiency, proficiency in the component skills of L2 reading, and the L1-L2 language and script distance.

Archived Session

February 26, 2020

Headshot of Dr.Norman Farb

Speaker: Dr. Maggie Toplak & Elizabeth Wanstall

Topic: Unstructured Performance Task (UPT): A Novel Performance-Based Measure of Executive Functions in Children

Abstract: A weak concordance between performance-based measures and behavioural ratings of executive functions (EF) has been well-documented in children with and without neurodevelopmental conditions. Performance-based EF measures are administered under highly structured conditions and may not reflect children’s performance in everyday environments where less guidance may be provided. The Unstructured Performance Task (UPT) is a novel performance-based EF task designed to include 42 easy problems that are randomly placed on a large sheet of paper (11” x 17”) and are administered with minimal direction and external monitoring. We collected pilot data on this task in a clinical sample of children with ADHD and a community sample, and found that this task was significantly correlated with both performance-based measures and behavioural ratings of EF (Ledochowski, Andrade & Toplak, 2019). Given these promising findings, we have been investigating the psychometric properties and correlates of the UPT and the UPT-2 (i.e., an updated version of the UPT). The UPT was found to have good psychometric properties and scores were significantly related to children’s academic abilities. The UPT-2 was then examined in a subsample of the original community sample of children plus a sample of new participants. The UPT-2 generated greater variability in scores and demonstrated improved psychometric properties. The UPT-2 was also found to be significantly related to performance-based tasks of EF and academic abilities. Overall, results indicate that the UPT/UPT-2 is a promising measure of EF performance in children. In particular, successful performance and completion of this task requires self-direction of the examinee, rather than direction from the examiner. 

Archived Session

March 25, 2020 (CANCELLED)
*Please note in light of the COVID-19 precautions, this colloquium is cancelled.

James MacKillop

Speaker: Dr. James MacKillop

Topic: Understanding Addiction using Behavioural Economics and Neuroeconomics: A Translational Approach

Abstract:Substance use disorders and other forms of addiction are a major public health problem in Canada. My research investigates these conditions through the lens of behavioral economics and neuroeconomics, integrating concepts and methods from psychology, economics, and cognitive neuroscience. These approaches are particularly well suited for investigating addiction, as these conditions inherently comprise overvaluation and overconsumption of psychoactive drugs and other potent reinforcers. An important aspect is that it uses methodologies that are consilient across levels of analysis, from basic science to clinical applications. One major focus is on in vivohuman behavior and the factors that affect the choices people make in a semi-naturalistic settings, such as a bar laboratory. At the more basic end of the spectrum, my research seeks to dissect the behavioral phenomena observed in the laboratory using structural and functional neuroimaging. At the more applied end of the spectrum, my work imports insights from behavioral studies to inform and improve treatment and public policy. Collectively, my research program seeks to leverage diverse perspectives and methods to generate novel and unique insights into the nature and treatment of addiction.

April 22, 2020 (CANCELLED)
*Please note in light of the COVID-19 precautions, this colloquium is cancelled.


Post-Doc Series