skip to main content columnskip to left navigation

Appalachian Student Research Forum

Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

Division I

Abstracts Submitted:Division I - Undergraduate students - Social & Behavioral Sciences


Stacy L. Barner and Wallace E. Dixon, Jr., Department of Psychology, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614

The current study was designed in order to measure the lexical abilities of 21-month old babies relative to their mothers parenting style. Items from a scale normally used to measure at-risk mother-child relationships were used to design a scale by which to measure each mothers parenting style. The childs novel word comprehension skills were measured in order to determine the childs ability to map a novel word onto an unfamiliar object. It was hypothesized that children of authoritative parents would be more likely to correctly label novel objects than children who were provided less of an authoritative family environment.

Children were given a word-learning task under four environmental conditions designed to simulate normal word-learning settings. In each condition, children were scored on comprehension of the novel word as well as the ability to map the same novel word onto a similar novel object in a generalization procedure. In the Baseline condition, children were provided with four familiar items and one novel item and then asked to identify an unfamiliar word, such as dax. The Cognitive Distraction condition was identical to the Baseline condition, but included 6 familiar items instead of 4. The additional items were expected to provide distraction to the children due to the additional attentional processing skills required during the task. The Social Distraction condition was similar to the Baseline condition. During the word-learning task, however, children were distracted by the entrance of an unfamiliar person. The Mechanical Distraction condition was similar to the Baseline condition. During the word-learning task, however, children were distracted by the activation of a mechanical toy.

Authoritative parenting was not significantly correlated with Baseline word learning conditions. Authoritative parenting was, however, significantly correlated with generalization performance in the Cognitive Distraction condition (r = 4.6, p < .01). Authoritative parenting was also significantly correlated with comprehension (r = .52, p < .05) and generalization (r = .50, p < .05) in the Social Distraction condition.

These results indicate that authoritative parenting may affect the rate at which children develop lexical skills. Since children of authoritative parents tended to perform better under conditions of environmental distraction than children who were provided with less of an authoritative family environment, the supportive, communicative parenting environment may have fostered the rapid development of these word learning skills. This may provide clinicians with information to distribute to mothers concerning the effects they may have on their childrens lexical development.


Smith, K. J.; Thompson, K. N.; Thacker, S. K.; Perna, M. K.; Brown, R. W. Dept. of Psychology, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614

Prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the startle reflex is an operational measure of sensorimotor gating that is reduced in schizophrenia patients and in dopamine (DA)-activated rats. PPI is measured by comparing the startle response to a loud auditory stimulus (120 decibels, dB) with trials in which a prepulse is given immediately before the startling stimulus. Human schizophrenics demonstrate an over-activated dopamine system in the brain, and have demonstrated an inability to inhibit the startle response when it is preceded by another auditory stimulus, or prepulse. In collaboration with Dr. Richard Kostrzewa, we have developed a rodent model of schizophrenia. Increases in dopamine D2 receptor activity are produced through neonatal quinpirole (a dopamine D2 agonist) treatment, administered from postnatal days 1-21. This drug treatment produces long-term dopamine D2 receptor supersensitization, similar to that which occurs in human schizophrenics. In this study, eight male and eight female Sprague-dawley adult rats were used as subjects. All animals were offspring of male and female breeders purchased from Harlan (Indianapolis, IN). The day after birth, animals were administered either quinpirole, a dopamine D2 receptor agonist (1mg/kg), or saline from postnatal days 1-21. Rats were raised to adulthood (approximately postnatal day 90) and tested daily for 10 consecutive days in one of two prepulse inhibition chambers (SR-Lab system, San Diego Instruments). Mean startle amplitude was measured over 100 ms following the presentation of the pulse stimulus of 120dB. On each daily trial, the rat was placed into an enclosed Plexiglas tube within a sound attenuating chamber. An ambient noise of 70 dB was administered for 5 min followed by a test session consisting of the randomized presentation of 32 trials: 17 pulse trials (40 ms, 120-db pulse) and 15 prepulse trials (five each at 73, 76, and 82 db with a 20-ms prepulse given 100 ms before a 40 ms 120-db pulse). For the 73 dB prepulse trials, there was a significant two-way interaction of Drug Treatment x Day, with animals neonatally treated with quinpirole demonstrating a significant deficit inhibiting the startle response on days 7-10. For the 76 dB prepulse trials, there was significant main effect of gender and a significant three-way interaction of Gender x Drug Treatment x Day. Female rats neonatally treated with quinpirole demonstrated deficits relative to all other groups, and female rats demonstrated a significant deficit in PPI relative to males. There were no significant effects on the 82 dB prepulse trials. Studies are currently underway to analyze group differences utilizing different interstimulus intervals across trials to investigate these effects.


Stephanie Grissom and Dr. Steb Hipple, Department of Economics, Finance and Urban Studies, East Tennessee State University, College of Business and Technology, Johnson City, TN 37614

While many may analyze the healthcare system of a region through both objective and subjective measures, this study analyzes healthcare systems from the point of view of an economist. In fact, this study utilizes an economic impact analysis to measure the economic impact of the healthcare industry on Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. The study uses the RIMS II Economic Impact Model from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to provide an industry impact measured in terms of output (business activity in dollars), earnings (amount of income generated by the industry), and employment (how many jobs the industry creates). The healthcare industries measured as defined by the North American Industrial Classification System include manufacturing, distribution, education, services, hospitals, and nursing and residential care facilities. The impact of the healthcare industry through these industries was measured over eight counties in east Tennessee and nine counties and two cities in Southwest Virginia. While the impact of the healthcare industry in the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia area may seem only marginal, it in fact accounts for one of the only industries to grow within the past ten years. In addition, healthcare related industries account for $4.7 billion dollars of business output and 56, 000 jobs in the region.

icon for left menu icon for right menu