Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Non-Hippocampal Memory Systems Contributing to Reinstated Context Memory
Damage to the hippocampus (HPC) typically causes retrograde amnesia for contextual fear conditioning. Reinstating the conditioning over several sessions, however, can mitigate the retrograde amnesic effects. Reinstatements, thus, establish a sufficiently strong memory in non-HPC systems to no longer require the HPC for expression, meaning that it has become HPC independent. This thesis aimed to determine the structures comprising the non-HPC system supporting reinstated context fear memory. The contribution of the perirhinal cortex (PRH) and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) were examined because of their established role in context memory. Initially, it was demonstrated that HPC damage indeed causes retrograde amnesia for single session, but not reinstated, contextual fear conditioning. Then, it was demonstrated that combined HPC and PRH damage causes retrograde amnesia for reinstated contextual fear conditioning, whereas combined HPC and ACC damage had lesser effects. Therefore, the PRH is a key structure within the non-HPC memory system for reinstated context fear memory. Author Keywords: anterior cingulate cortex, contextual fear conditioning, hippocampus, memory, perirhinal cortex, retrograde amnesia
Marital Satisfaction Throughout the Journey of Weight-Loss Surgery
A mixed-methods’ approach was designed to explore the marital impacts following weight-loss surgery (WLS). In Phase 1, ten individual interviews with spouses of five couples were conducted; two of the couples had the wives preparing for WLS, two of the couples consisted of wives who had WLS, and one couple had both received the surgery. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a combination of interpretive phenomenological and grounded theory techniques. Findings demonstrated that WLS does have impacts on marriage regardless of where couples are in their journey. All couples discussed food as a possible source of conflict in their relationship. Interviews also reveled that self-esteem is a major factor contributing to their relationship and support is necessary throughout. In Phase 2 an online survey was developed to quantitatively explore the important constructs deemed important from the participants in Phase 1. Relationships between relationship satisfaction, sexual conflict, self-esteem, depression and body image were examined in 54 participants. Results demonstrate that higher levels of support and self-esteem and lower sexual conflict relate to a more satisfactory relationship in individuals post- WLS. Author Keywords: marital satsifaction, mixed-methods, qualitative, relationship satisfaction, weight-loss, Weight-loss surgery
Fathering Experience of the Transition Into Parenthood
Men who become fathers undergo a transitional period during which they adjust to their new role as the caregiver of a child, a time that is usually viewed as a major life transition (Lamb, 2010). Much of the published literature focuses on fathers with identified issues (e.g., divorced fathers); therefore, there is a need for research that looks at the experiences of more typical fathers in the current Canadian context. To understand how fathers experience this transition, a series of focus groups were conducted with first-time fathers across the Peel Region of Ontario, Canada. Analysis of the focus group transcripts using an interpretative phenomenology framework identified four overarching metathemes: intrapersonal experiences, extrapersonal experiences, father’s role, and supports. Practical implications, theoretical implications, and limitations are discussed. Author Keywords: Fathering, Fathering Experience, First-Time Fathers, Transition Into Parenthood
“Just Say Yes” - Sexual Consent and Boundary Setting On-and Offlinle
The present study examined the understanding and behaviours relating to sexual consent on, and offline among men who have sex with men (MSM) and heterosexual men internationally using a convergent parallel mixed-methods approach. Men of both sexual orientation groups presented challenges with negotiating sexual consent, and this was especially true if they scored higher on aggressive traits or had previously experienced childhood abuse or an unwanted penetrative sexual act in adulthood. However, from the results as a whole, MSM reported struggle more with regards to consent negotiation for a variety of reasons (e.g. sexual scripts, power dynamics, additional sexual settings, sex-role positioning). Limitations and future directions are discussed. Author Keywords: heterosexual men, men who have sex with men, sexual assault, sexual consent, technology
To be kind or not to be kind
Past research suggests that students who are more academically resourceful tend to attain higher grades and feel more socially and academically adjusted at university. These same studies also show that students’ general resourcefulness and academic self-efficacy are strong, positive and direct predictors of their academic resourcefulness. My thesis expands upon this line of research by investigating the six dimensions of self-compassion (i.e., self-kindness, common humanity, mindfulness, self-criticism, isolation, over-identification) within the framework of the academic self-control model. In Study 1, a mixed methods approach was used, whereby after completing a measure on general learned resourcefulness, 20 students were interviewed to describe in detail their experiences with academic success and failure. Across the continuum of resourcefulness, interviews were analyzed for usage of self-compassion, academic resourcefulness, and explanatory style. Four themes emerged illustrating, compared to the highly resourceful students, the less resourceful students demonstrated fewer instances of academically resourceful behaviour, believed academic successes should require little effort, focused on the product of getting a high grade versus the process, and were less socially adjusted and mindful, and more isolated, ruminative, and overly self-critical when describing academic disappointments. Study 2 employed a correlational design to examine the relationships between the dimensions of self-compassion and the variables of the academic self-control model, with a sample of 196 students. As expected, the six dimensions of self-compassion were more strongly related to general resourcefulness than academic resourcefulness, with mindfulness and common humanity being unique predictors of the former variable. The contribution of the six dimensions to academic resourcefulness was shared with general resourcefulness and academic self-efficacy. The bivariate relationships between the dimensions of self-compassion and students’ grades were largely non-significant. Two dimensions uniquely predicted students’ adjustment to university – isolation and common humanity – alongside general and academic resourcefulness. In summary, the dimensions of self-compassion uniquely related to the more general measures of the model. Future research should explore the usefulness of an academic-specific measure of self-compassion in the prediction of academic resourcefulness, explanatory style, and grades. Whether including training on how to be more self-compassionate, in conjunction with teaching resourcefulness strategies, is beneficial for students is discussed. Author Keywords: academic resourcefulness, adjustment, explanatory style, general learned resourcefulness, self-compassion, self-efficacy
Kiss and tell
It has been proposed that individuals often form a romantic attachment to their sexual partners. However, there is little understanding of the role of sexual behaviours in an attachment relationship. This study aims to explore the effect of attachment representations on sexual behaviours during foreplay, intercourse, and afterplay. In two studies, individuals (N = 478) and couples (N = 50) completed self-reported measures of attachment, sexual behaviours, and sexual satisfaction. As expected, security predicted various behaviours during each part of a sexual encounter and greater sexual satisfaction. Insecurity (preoccupied, dismissing, and fearful attachment) predicted engagement in post-coital behaviours – bonding efforts as well as seeking extrinsic rewards and experiencing body worries. Fearful attachment predicted less sexual satisfaction, while preoccupied attachment unexpectedly predicted greater sexual satisfaction. These findings provide support for the associations between individual attachment styles and sexual behaviours and suggest the implications of sexual behaviours on intimate needs within relationships. Author Keywords: afterplay, attachment, foreplay, relationships, sexuality, sexual satisfaction
Help Wanted
The purpose of this thesis was to explore the role of attachment in university students’ help-seeking process using both a cross-sectional and mixed methods study. In the cross-sectional study, I explored whether help-seeking attitudes mediated the relationship between attachment and help-seeking behaviour. As expected, the relationship between secure and preoccupied attachment and greater help-seeking behaviour from both informal and self-help sources was partially mediated by positive attitudes toward seeking non-professional personal help. However, unexpectedly, attitudes toward professional psychological help did not mediate the relationship between attachment and formal help-seeking behaviour. In the mixed-methods study, secure students reported positive help-seeking experiences and discussed facilitators of help-seeking. On the other hand, fearful and dismissing students reported more negative help-seeking experiences and discussed barriers to help-seeking. Discussion of findings focus on how university staff can use attachment theory to develop interventions to increase student help-seeking. Author Keywords: Attachment, attitudes, Help-seeking, Relationships, Transitions, University students
Tool-use and near-tool effects
After active tool-use visual stimuli near a tool are processed more quickly and accurately than those farther away from a tool. Can these near-tool effects be modulated by training demands? To investigate this we asked the participants to complete a tool training task followed by a cross-modal interference task. During the training task the participants performed quick and accurate pointing movements to reach a strict or moderate criterion. The results indicated that the strict group made faster movements than the moderate group. During the cross-modal interference task visual distractors were presented along handheld tools in conjunction with vibrotactile stimuli on the hand. No significant compatibility effects were found for visual distractors near the hand or tool tip, and no consistent group differences were found. Our findings demonstrate the importance of using a novel tool during training, and that virtual stimuli may not be effective to elicit near-tool effects. Author Keywords: bimodal neurons, cross-modal interference, near-tool effects, tool training, training demands
"I like big books"
The purpose of this study was to determine whether students at the Royal Military College (RMC) preferred electronic or print texts, their reasoning for this preference, and whether preference was related to student characteristics. Students (N=139) in a core course were provided with both formats. Due to a limited number of e-text users, statistical analyses of most variables were not possible. Instead, qualitative responses were analyzed to gain insight into student preferences. Students reported on the benefits and concerns of using each format. Their discussion of the benefits to the e-text and concerns about the print text were related to the level of convenience of each format. When considering the benefits of print and drawbacks of e-texts, students explained how these features could impact their reading experience. This study provides qualitative support for the continued use of print texts. Although they frequently use various forms of technology in the classroom, students are reluctant to study using electronic devices and feel their reading experience is best with print. Author Keywords: Educational technology, Qualitative, Textbooks, Text preferences
Sexual consent
How one identifies their nonconsensual sexual experiences (NSE) and cognitively integrates the experience into their sexual schemas may affect how individuals perceive and negotiate sexual consent. Previous research has demonstrated that both the method of quantifying NSEs and the labels used to describe NSEs yield different results in psychosexual outcomes associated with NSEs. The current study assessed differences in subjectively and behaviourally quantified NSEs, as well as the role of cognitive and affective appraisals of sexuality and sexual interactions, on sexual consent attitudes. While behaviourally measured NSE history did not significantly influence sexual consent attitudes, the subjective identification of NSEs with various labels did influence attitudes toward sexual consent. Cognitive appraisals of rape and affective appraisals of sexuality also significantly predicted sexual consent attitudes. Implications for future research and NSE prevention are discussed. Keywords: Nonconsensual sexual experiences, sexual consent, quantifying NSEs, affective sexuality, cognitive sexuality Author Keywords: identification, nonconsensual sexual experiences, rape, sexual affectivity, sexual assault, sexual consent
Childhood Precursors of Adult Trait Incompleteness
Previous research has suggested that childhood sensory sensitivity may predict adult obsessive compulsive (OC) behaviours. To date, however, research has not addressed how the separate dimensions – harm avoidance and incompleteness - may influence this relationship or why it exists. The current study used a retrospective design to test a) if sensory sensitivity in childhood predicts trait incompleteness in adulthood, as well as b) if emotion regulation variables mediate this relationship. Questionnaires pertaining to OC dimensions and childhood anxieties were completed independently by 172 undergraduate participants and their primary childhood caregiver. Results showed a linear relationship between sensory sensitivity in childhood and incompleteness in adults. Emotion regulation variables failed to mediate this relationship, although a trend for mediation was present. Additionally, exploratory analysis found perfectionism in childhood to be a predictor of trait incompleteness but not harm avoidance, whereas physical anxieties predicted harm avoidance and not incompleteness. Results are discussed in the context of clinical and theoretical implications. Author Keywords: Distress Tolerance, Harm Avoidance, Incompleteness, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Sensory Sensitivity, Symmetry
Comparing Two Tablet-Based Visuomotor Tasks to Standard Laboratory Versions
The assessment of visuomotor function can provide important information about neurological status. Several visuomotor tasks exist for testing in the laboratory, although attempts to make these tests portable to allow quick and reliable assessment have been limited. We developed an assessment tool using two laboratory visuomotor tests as a tablet application: the double-step task, and an interception task. Performance was assessed by measuring the participants’ ability to reach toward unpredictably moving targets in each task. Response patterns were compared across equipment types to determine if participants were responding similarly to the moving targets in the standard laboratory and the tablet version of the tasks. On the double-step task, participants adjusted to the displaced target adequately in both the lab and tablet versions. On the interception task, participants intercepted non-accelerating targets, and performed worse on accelerating targets in both versions of the task. These findings suggest that the tablet version of these tasks assesses similar visuomotor processing as the respective laboratory version. Author Keywords: concussion assessment, double-step task, interception task, visuomotor processing, visuomotor system


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