Henry Valk

Research Assistant

During my study of psychology, several different topics have captured my interest. As I continue to refine my research interests, I am approaching every topic with open-mindedness and vigor. I hope to one day apply the sum of my learning and experiences in a clinical environment.

One subfield of psychology that interests me is implicit social cognition. How does automatic attitude formation influence our perception of the people around us? I believe a metacognitive awareness of our subconsciously held attitudes and beliefs could help bridge the gaps between in-groups and out-groups and ease the racial and political tensions plaguing much of the world.

Other topics that I have explored and would like to explore further are cognitive behavioral therapy, emotion regulation, and stress recovery. Cognitive therapies treat major depressive disorder, social anxiety, and other disorders by attempting to modify maladaptive thinking patterns. As an undergraduate at Wake Forest University I analyzed the dynamic functional connectivity networks of depressed, socially anxious, and comorbid populations undergoing a social evaluative threat task. We sought to understand the neural differences between these clinical populations and healthy populations that may be responsible for maladaptive thinking. I also conducted research investigating stress recovery and emotion regulation, in order to better understand how to cope with chronic stressors. How can strategies such as cognitive reappraisal be incorporated into therapeutic techniques?

Currently, I am using electroencephalography to research brain-to-brain synchrony in the high school classroom. We are also simultaneously developing a high school neuroscience curriculum centered around the EEG technology we are using in our experimental paradigm. How does brain synchrony relate to learning outcomes and classroom social dynamics? What teaching methods elicit the highest levels of synchrony?


Contact:

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References:

  1. Dikker S., Wan L., Davidesco I., Kaggen L., Oostrik M., McClintock J., Rowland J., Michalareas G., Van Bavel J., Ding M. & Poeppel D. (2017) Brain-to-Brain Synchrony Tracks Real-World Dynamic Group Interactions in the Classroom. Current Biology, 27, 1-6.
  2. Joormann, J., Waugh, C. E., & Gotlib, I. H. (2015). Cognitive bias modification for interpretation in major depression: Effects on memory and stress reactivity. Clinical Psychological Science, 3(1), 126-139.