During their first semester, new lab members identify research interests and present an article to reflect that interest to the lab. Recently, first semester lab member Alex introduced the lab to a physiological perspective of studying PTG by presenting an article that examined the relationship between resting-state brain activity and self-reported PTG scores. Researchers Fujisawa, Jung, Kojima, Saito, Kosaka, and Tomoda (2015) used an fMRI to perform brain imaging of participants and then used a statistical approach to divide areas of heightened brain activity into comparable units. This made it possible to test the relationship between activated brain regions and self-reported PTG scores. Results show significant differences in varying brain regions between individuals with higher PTG scores than those with lower scores. For example, individuals with higher PTG scores also had heightened activity in a region of the brain (the supramarginal gyrus) that is associated with reasoning about the beliefs and intentions of others. Alex would like to further the physiological study of PTG by examining the relationship between different forms of memory and PTG. He would also like to study brain function as it relates to memory enhancement in response to trauma. Great job on your article presentation, Alex, and good luck with your research endeavors!
Author Archives: vmarton2
Recently, Dr. Taku, Whitney, Lauren, and Velinka shared a presentation at a Psi Chi hosted event, commemorating Shelby Jane Seyburn, a former PTG lab member who suddenly passed in June of 2017. In attendance were Shelby’s parents, brothers, family and friends as well as many OU faculty and students. The presentation covered Shelby’s research accomplishments during her time with the PTG lab, an overview of the Teen Parent Program that Shelby developed, and the ongoing work taking place in the PTG lab. Dr. Taku began the presentation by sharing Shelby’s early experiences with the lab. She recalled how eager Shelby was to join the lab and start learning about the phenomenon of posttraumatic growth (PTG). Dr. Taku then provided a brief explanation of PTG, explaining that it is defined as the positive psychological changes that can occur through the struggle of traumatic experiences, and clarifying the common misconception that PTG and posttraumatic stress are opposing ends of the same spectrum. She pointed out that the process of growth includes struggle and can be fostered with social support, an area of particular interest to Shelby. Next, Lauren shared how, after identifying her research interests, Shelby devoted much of her time furthering PTG research by studying the role of social support and resilience in predicting personal growth. She was able to do this through psychoeducational high school intervention programs and conference presentations. Lauren showed the audience several of Shelby’s conference presentation posters and the particular findings that propelled each subsequent project. Lauren then explained that Shelby eventually developed a desire to reach out to teen parents after attending a town hall meeting in Pontiac with other PTG lab members, after which the Teen Parent Program began to take shape. Next, Whitney and Velinka gave an overview of the development and implementation of the Teen Parent Program. Whitney first explained the two-pronged purpose the program: to educate teen parents about social support, PTG, and nutrition (another area of interest to Shelby) and to measure the effect of the program on the teen parents. Then, Velinka explained that the first round of sessions was implemented in the fall of 2017, and she provided a session-by-session overview through a brief description of the overarching goal and associated activities of each session. Next, Whitney shared preliminary findings from the first round of sessions and future plans of the program, which includes expansion to other schools, incorporating Shelby’s love for nutrition education, and eventual dissemination of research findings. Lastly, Dr. Taku drew the presentation to a close by sharing the ongoing work in the PTG lab. She noted the unique way each lab member is furthering research of PTG and that Shelby continues to be an inspiration toward that end. The presentation came to close with a special introduction of the foundation created in Shelby’s honor, The Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation (https://shelbystrong.life). Funds raised will 1) help undergraduate and graduate students attend research conferences which would otherwise require self-funding, 2) help expand the Teen Parent Program, and 3) further the research of PTG and resilience through many avenues. Overall, the commemoration event was a special time to recall and share Shelby’s many accomplishments, highlight the way her research continues to blossom, and to be encouraged by future research of PTG through many different avenues. The PTG lab is incredibly grateful to Psi Chi for hosting the event and to everyone who attended and expressed support and encouragement!
Reema Gowda is a junior in high school who is also completing her second year interning with the PTG lab. Recently, Reema shared a presentation of her individual exploratory study using data from research previously conducted in the PTG lab. Reema’s presentation, entitled “Types of Medical Trauma Affecting PTG,” is an extension of the research she presented last semester to the lab. During the summer of 2017, Reema began examining the effects of illness, injury, and family issues on PTG and presented her findings to the lab in October. Since then, Reema has narrowed her focus and compared PTG levels between individuals who experienced medical trauma and/or accidents. She accomplished this by calculating and comparing mean PTG total scores as well as mean scores of the five PTG domains to identify potential differences. The findings provide insight into the effects of experiencing multiple traumas and highlight the importance of further exploration of the effects of specific types of traumas on PTG. Reema plans to continue her work by examining differences between PTG and PTSD, exploring how PTG may vary by age, and the possibility of illusory growth after medical trauma. Great job, Reema! The PTG lab is behind you as you move toward your next goal!