Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Emotional Competencies in Mothers and Children and their Relationship with Health Care Utilization, Somatization and Health Anxiety.
Young children learn their emotion regulation skills by modeling and internalizing their caregivers' emotional competencies. Inadequate or problematic emotional competencies in parents can result in insufficient development of these competencies in children, which can have severe consequences on multiple domains of their lives, including physical wellbeing. This study examined the relationship between emotional competencies, health care usage rates, somatization and health anxiety in the context of a family with young children. Participants were mothers of children 4-11 years old recruited in the community. The results revealed a relationship between mother’s emotional competencies and mother and child’s health care usage rates. Mother’s health care usage rates were also linked to mother’s health anxiety and child’s somatic symptoms. These findings add to our understanding of the relationship between emotional competencies of parents and children, and the effects it can have on both mother’s and child’s physical wellbeing. Implications and avenues for future research are discussed. Author Keywords: emotional competencies, health care usage, mother and child, somatization
Facilitating Self-Regulation through Physical Activity
Self-regulation skills have been connected to positive school success and increased academic achievement (McClelland, Acock, & Morrison, 2006). One recently explored method to aid students in their ability to self-regulate is physical activity (Becker, et al., 2011). The purpose of this study was to explore the facilitation of self- regulation through physical activity via access to an exercise bicycle within an elementary and secondary school setting. Student bicycle usage was explored via student documentation to determine frequency and duration of use. Teacher observations were collected via email correspondence were analyzed via thematic content analysis and reflections made by the teachers at a follow-up debriefing session were summarized. Overall, a novelty effect was apparent with the bicycle, where it was used extensively in the first month of the study and then use sharply declined thereafter. Teachers felt that the bicycle appeared to provide some students with support, however there were challenges with integrating the exercise bicycle into the classroom. As well, teachers stated that factors such as bicycle placement and engagement levels must be explored further in order to understand the impact an exercise bicycle could possibly have on a student’s ability to self-regulate. Author Keywords: exercise bicycle, physical activity, self-regulation
Cognitive Inefficiencies in Adolescents with Eating Disorders
Eating Disorders (ED) are notoriously difficult to treat due, in part, to commonly observed inefficiencies in cognitive flexibility and central coherence, which are believed to maintain disordered cognitions and behaviours and negatively impact prognosis. Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) has recently been used effectively with adults with ED; however, evidence among adolescents is limited. The present study explored change in flexibility and central coherence in a group of 23 adolescent ED inpatients (M = 16 years, SD = 0.95). All participants received a comparable dose of ED treatment. Participants were split into two groups for comparison: the CRT group (n = 15) received CRT in addition to TAU; and a TAU group for control (TAU; n = 8). Improvements in flexibility and central coherence were superior in the CRT group, suggesting that CRT is a potentially useful treatment for adolescents with AN as part of an overall psychosocial rehabilitation program. Author Keywords: anorexia nervosa, central coherence, cognitive flexibility, cognitive remediation, eating disorders, set shifting
Use Of Rapid Amygdala Kindling With Corticosterone Supplementation As A Model Of Epilepsy-Depression Comorbidity
Temporal lobe epilepsy increases risk for developing major depression, and conversely, depression increases risk for development of epilepsy. The mechanisms responsible for the widely observed bi-directional relationship between epilepsy and depression are currently poorly understood. One reason why our understanding of shared etiology has had little improvement is due to the lack of availability of a reliable animal model for inducing depression in epileptic animals. The development of a reliable model of epilepsy-depression comorbidity would greatly improve the ability to mechanistically evaluate shared pathophysiology between the conditions. Recently there has been evidence that rapid kindling of the basolateral amygdala can evoke a behavioural phenotype that is comparable to the symptoms of anxiety and depression observed in depressed epileptic patients. However, this work has yet to be replicated, leaving question as to whether or not the behavioural phenotype can be reliably evoked. In the following series of experiments we assessed rapid amygdala kindling as a potential model of epilepsy-depression comorbidity and sought to improve the model with inclusion of the glucocorticoid corticosterone. Our findings may improve our understanding of the unique relationships between epilepsy and depression. Author Keywords: animal models, depression, hippocampus, kindling, stress, temporal lobe epilepsy
Influence of Action Potentiation on the Perception of Objects Presented Near Hand
For currently-debated reasons, perception of visual stimuli is enhanced in near-hand space compared to far-hand space. According to the action potentiation hypothesis, near-hand effects result from automatically generated potential motor responses produced upon viewing objects presented in near-hand space. This hypothesis was tested by crossing hand manipulations with two separate techniques designed to elicit action potentiation. The first series of experiments presented participants with a cueing task where images of handled objects served as the cue, and its handle compatibility was manipulated. A consistent near-hand effect was observed, but there was no evidence that the images potentiated action as there was no handle-compatibility effect. The second experiment used a visuomotor competition reaching task, which required participants to initiate reaches toward a distractor display and adjust their trajectory on the fly so as to end the reach at a later indicated target location. For every distractor presented simultaneous and competing motor responses were generated, and differences in how hand presence influenced the resolution of this competition were examined. Based on predictions made, action potentiation is unlikely to be the root cause of the near-hand effect; however, was not possible to rule out this explanation entirely. The findings of these experiments shed light both on the importance and consistency of the near-hand effect, and the difficulties associated with uncovering its nature in human populations. Author Keywords:
Problem-Solving and Cognitive Flexibility in Older Adolescents and Young Adults
Ill-structured problems have changing components that solvers need to adapt their solutions to. Well-structured problems have strict, well-defined procedures, and solvers must know which procedures to apply and when. Research has suggested that these two types of problems utilize different problem-solving skills. The current study focused on the relation between ill-structured interpersonal problem solving, novel well-structured problem-solving, and cognitive flexibility in young adults and older adolescents. It was predicted that because of the changing components of ill-structured problems, cognitive flexibility would more strongly predict these compared to well-structured problems. The current study sample consisted of 73 undergraduates with an average age of 20.43 years. The results showed that cognitive flexibility is equally associated with ill-structured problem-solving and well-structured problem-solving. This suggests that cognitive flexibility may support the perspective coordination involved in solving ill-structured problems and that cognitive flexibility may support switching between search strategies when solving a novel well-structured problem. Author Keywords: adolescent, adult, cognitive flexibility, ill-structured problem-solving, novel problems, well-structured problem-solving
Effect of Aging and Movement Variability on Motor Adaptation
Aging is associated with a multitude of changes, including changes in the motor system. One such change that has been documented is increased levels of inherent movement variability (the inability to consistently replicate movements over time) with increasing age. Previous research has had controversial findings regarding the effect that movement variability has on motor learning and motor adaptation. Some research suggests that movement variability is beneficial to motor learning, while other research indicates that movement variability is the by-product of a noisy motor system and is a detriment to learning new skills. How do changes in movement variability associated with aging affect the ability to adapt to a mass perturbation? We tested younger and older individuals on a mass adaptation task (applying mass to the lateral side of the arm to perturb inertial forces of the limb during reaches). We analyzed baseline levels of movement variability, learning during the adaptation block and how baseline levels of movement variability explained differences in learning. We focused on measures of accuracy, speed and precision. We found that younger individuals displayed greater levels of movement variability throughout the experiment and that they also learned to adapt to the mass perturbation more successfully than their older counterparts. Multi-joint movements displayed greater degrees of learning in comparison to single-joint movements, likely due to the difference in difficulty when completing the two movements. Taken together, our results suggest that purposeful movement variability may be beneficial to motor adaptation. Author Keywords: aging, mass adaptation, motor adaptation, motor learning, movement variability
What Nature is Best?
Connecting with nature benefits human and environmental health, however it is unclear whether certain types of nature influence people differently. Research has primarily focused on green spaces (vegetation-rich areas), but recent cross-sectional studies suggest that green spaces with blue space (natural water elements) may have additional well-being benefits. A quasi-experimental design compared the effects of green spaces with or without water on mood and environmental concern. Students (N = 193) were randomly assigned to walk along campus green (drumlin) or blue (river) spaces. Both walks improved students’ mood, especially for those who had a stronger preference for the area. Students in both conditions reported more sustainable behaviours when followed up one week and one month later, but decreased in nature contact and well-being. These findings highlight the challenges of promoting regular nature contact as a mood regulation strategy. Implications and future directions are discussed. Author Keywords: blue space, green space, nature connectedness, well-being
Social Anxiety and Emotional Competence
Prior research has examined social anxiety, emotional competence (EC) and life adjustment (i.e., loneliness and life satisfaction) using cross-sectional designs, although there is limited information on their association over time. The present study examined the impact of social anxiety on life adjustment and assessed if EC could mediate this relationship from young to middle adulthood. University students (N = 283) completed self-report measures at two time points: in first year university and 15 years later. The results accord with previous research demonstrating the stability and slight decrease of social anxiety over time. Social anxiety in young adulthood was a robust predictor of loneliness in middle adulthood, and a weak predictor of life dissatisfaction for men. Mediation analyses revealed that social anxiety was indirectly associated with interpersonal adjustment via EC, especially the intrapersonal EC domain. Social anxiety requires early intervention and EC may help to prevent later social anxiety and maladjustment. Author Keywords: emotional intelligence, life adjustment, social anxiety
It's All in Your Head
The Continuity Hypothesis states that dreams reflect waking day cognition and experiences, which reflect one’s mental health status. As such, dreams are, by extension, cognitions that occur during sleep. To date, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is deemed the most efficacious method of social anxiety treatment by working with cognitions. The current study utilized both CBT and The Storytelling Method (TSM) of dream interpretation, whose methodology is based on CBT; CBT works with waking cognitions and TSM works with sleep cognition. This study examined the effectiveness in decreasing social anxiety symptoms with TSM and comparing its efficacy to a traditional CBT technique. Undergraduate psychology students (N = 36) completed a daily journal of either the TSM or CBT format for two weeks. Participants completed self-report measures of social anxiety, state-anxiety, and depression before and after practicing either method. TSM did not significantly decrease levels of social anxiety, state-anxiety, or depression, whereas CBT significantly decreased only social anxiety levels. Dream content reflecting waking day anxiety and depression did not decrease over time, coinciding with the findings that students did not experience a decrease in their waking day life, supporting the Continuity Hypothesis. Findings suggest anxiety and depression to be very stable in this sample. Future research should explore interventions that are clinician-guided, in a group setting, or, occur over a longer period of time. Author Keywords: Content Analysis, Social anxiety, The Storytelling Method
An Emergent Model of the Return to Learn Process for Adolescents with Prolonged Concussion
Current literature on concussion management focuses primarily on the return to physical activity, while the return to learn process is less clearly understood. This knowledge gap is particularly problematic for adolescents, whose primary responsibility is academics. The present study sought to develop a more in-depth understanding of the return to learn process through the perspectives of adolescents who had sustained a concussion and their parents in in-person, semi-structured interviews. A substantive grounded theory of the return to learn process for adolescents that emerged from the data is provided. The basic model is consistent with many speculative, non-empirically based concussion management protocols, but extends these models by emphasizing the central role of parents in managing their child’s recovery process, highlighting the importance of role fulfillment within the concussion management network, and identifying the impact of the adolescent’s capacity and readiness for help-seeking. The results also highlight the vulnerability of concussed adolescents to losing their support structure as they move through key school transitions. Implications for educators, medical professionals, parents, and adolescents in the return to learn process are also discussed. Author Keywords: Adolescent, Concussion, Concussion Management, Multidisciplinary Management, Return to Learn, Return to School
Academic Procrastination, Self-Regulation, Anxiety and Personality (ASAP)
Academic procrastination is analogous to a common cold: pervasive and with no established cure. Students experience repercussions that are not inclusive to academic performance, but rather, are experienced across mental, physical, social and emotional domains as well. While this necessitates treatment, much of the behaviour has yet to be explained. In the current study, a state approach was integrated to explore procrastination in terms of the Yerkes-Dodson paradigm. Procrastination was hypothesized to arise for one of two reasons: students are either too low or too high in anxiety. A sample of 847 Ontario undergraduate students completed measures of procrastination, state-anxiety, personality, and self-regulation. Results suggest 88% of students procrastinate regularly, and contrary to what was hypothesized, procrastination and anxiety were linearly related. Independent t-tests establish that relative to non-procrastinators, procrastinators are significantly more emotionally and biologically dysregulated and less socially integrated. Factor analysis demonstrated three central reasons contributing to procrastination, which were used as the basis to establish types of procrastination: social (n=61), self-doubt (n=70) and low-energy (n=76) procrastinators. Results indicate divergences across procrastination type with respect to personality as well as biological, affective and social domains. Findings also inform that the expression of procrastination, varies across student. Overall, findings suggest that academic interventions should acknowledge and address the variability among procrastinators. Author Keywords: ACADEMIC PROCRASTINATION, ANXIETY, PERSONALITY, SELF-REGULATION

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Format: 2020/10/24