Monday, November 25, 2019

STIP Student Gabby Patarinski Neurobiological Components of Cognitive Dissonance

Hi! My name is Gabby Patarinski and I’m a senior psychology major with a concentration in clinical psychology and a minor in neuroscience. This summer, I had the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Sarah Fischer-Nowaczyk, the professor in charge of the lab I’ve been working for since my freshman year. Dr. Fischer invited me to be a part of implementing her pilot study on substance abuse, decision making, and functional connectivity networks within the brain. To connect another subject to the topic, I decided to include additional self-report surveys that asses disordered eating traits. Impulsivity and poor decision making is often implicated in certain eating disorder habits, and so we thought it would be interesting to discover connections on these topics. Through this, my project, “Understanding substance use in decision making: The connection to eating disorder traits” came about.

My interest in the broad topic of body image began in my freshman honors research methods class, where I explored the connections between anorexia nervosa, body dysmorphic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder and raised questions about current and future diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition. After a summer of working closely with women coming out of the criminal justice system, many of whom suffered from addictions, my interest in the topic of addictions sparked. I’m thankful to have already been a part of one of Dr. Fischer’s labs that explored the neurobiological components of cognitive dissonance—this experience allowed me to become familiar with the ins-and-outs of being a research assistant and introduced me to Dr. Fischer, whom I later asked to become my honors psychology mentor for my senior thesis project.

Recruited subjects for the study are initially screened to ensure they meet criteria, they then complete a number of self-report questionnaires, have a resting-state functional MRI scan done, and participate in 10 days of ecological momentary assessment. It was fascinating to learn about MRI scanning. My experiences in research help me pave the way to hopefully get into a clinical psychology doctorate program. The future is daunting, as are the admission rates, but I’m thankful to OSCAR for helping me prepare for the future and have this summer project.