Psychology & Social Work Lab

 
The Rio Psychology Lab is a tool for students and faculty who want to explore the wide world of psychological phenomenon. It's located in the newly-renovated Wood Hall building.  Recently, a state-of-the-art Biopac system has been added to the lab.  The Biopac system utilizes the following combination of psychophysiological recording methods to allow students to record live physiological data:

  • EEG brain waves
  • Heart rate
  • Respiration
  • Blood pressure
  • Eye movements
  • Reaction time
  • Reflexes
  • Skin conductance

With this combination of recording methods, students can gain hands-on experience and conduct research in many areas of psychology. These areas include but are not limited to brain rhythms, bio rhythms, bio-feedback, visual and auditory evoked potentials, cognition, problem solving, relaxation and arousal, emotional processing, sensory adaptation, habituation, polygraphy (lie detection), and many more; the possibilities are limitless!  Students are encouraged to collaborate with faculty on new ideas, as well as help faculty with ongoing projects.

Current Research

Dr. Chad Duncan is the lab director, a trained experimental psychologist, and cognitive researcher.  Dr. Duncan's interests are focused in the field of Cognitive psychology, mainly trying to understand how cells in the brain communicate and process visual information.  He is always looking for students who are interested in helping, as well as those interested in pursuing their own ideas from any branch of psychology.

Dr. Duncan is currently investigating the "Illusion of Peripheral Acuity". This illusion refers to the idea that humans can only see fine detail in the center of our visual field, and have very poor discrimination in the periphery. This is due to the anatomy of the eye, which enhances acuity in the center, but limits acuity everywhere else. Yet, most people don't notice this difference and, in fact believe that they can see fine details everywhere in the visual field.  Dr. Duncan believes that the brain creates this illusion of acuity in the periphery through a combination of memory, filling-in, and top-down processes, and he is currently using EEG to find and identify the mechanisms involved.