C.A.S.H. Blog

Blog #2 - Settling in

October 2019

Our lab has quickly become the type of community which we look forward to working in. I'm often taken aback by both the size and capability of our lab within the Oberlin psychology department. We see each other at guest lectures, in class, or on campus. We joke that most of us live in Severance—the psychology building.

The ICE-T/RIFT Study is reaching the end of its preliminary phase—the IRB has been approved, lab protocol written, hour long surveys made, and relevant literature read. Training is expected to start a few weeks after fall break. The biggest problem has become (if it even is one) the amount of opportunities within the lab...

Virtually every lab member is on extraneous projects: we hope to publish an article in Brain Sciences, there are coding side-projects, Bayesian statistical modeling teams, two RAs are presenting at the upcoming Association for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies Conference, and that's genuinely just a start. It's exhilarating and for many of us the first time we really feel as though we're contributing on the front lines of science. I'm told by envious friends that an opportunity to work on a paper as an undergraduate is practically unheard of at a small liberal arts college like ours. I often feel like I'm learning more in the lab than during my classes. And it's this type of hands on learning that breeds capability upon graduation; I can tell the people around me are bound for greatness.

Undergraduates really have a lot to offer, it's just that up until now, we had never really been given the chance.

Blog #1 - An introduction to C.A.S.H. Lab

September 2019

We are a motley crew. 13 undergraduate students headed by Dr. Kenneth J.D. Allen, also an Oberlin alum (class of 09’). We are split up into two groups—this is to create a sense of community, work-ethic and teamwork. And maybe this is a good thing, considering the subject matter.

We are studying Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI), a topic evidently close to our generation; prevalence rates of NSSIs among adolescent Americans are approximately 13% (and has been increasing in recent years). Common NSSIs include cutting, biting, burning, and other deliberate self-injurious behavior without fatal intent, but NSSIs may be one of our best measures for predicting suicide ideation. This is a serious topic, and though this lab’s research has just begun, and despite our collegiate appearance, we are all genuinely dedicated to the subject matter. Care and vigilance are inevitable results, for we all are in some way intimately tied with NSSIs. Though I have not personally engaged in NSSIs, I could name a series of good people who have or continue to suffer.

The Cognition, Affect, Self-Regulation, and Health (C.A.S.H) laboratory is kicking off with the ICE-T/RIFT study, a fun name for a project which seeks to use EEGs and emotion regulation tasks in order to identify impulsivity deficits. In other words, we’re piloting experiments which may lead to better predictive and preventative methods for not just suicide attempts or ideation, but all psychopathology related to impulsivity and affect (which, spoiler, may be all of them).