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PTSD research to examine less-studied effects

Researchers Pilar Sanjuan, a research assistant professor at the UNM Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, & Addictions (CASAA), and Julia Stephen, a professor of Translational Neuroscience at the UNM Mind Research Network (MRN), along with their team, recently received an award for $475,751 from the National Institute of Mental Health to study people with PTSD in an effort to find solutions to the not-so-well studied issues associated with PTSD. Active duty and veteran service members deployed within the past 10 years interested in participating in the study should contact Gleichmann at 505-272-3304 or dgleichmann@mrn.org.

UNM professor honored by book dedication

In the introduction of the book, his European colleagues wrote, “One of the high points of the conference was the thematic session organized in honor of Prof. Lawrence Guy Straus, whose seminal and extensive work on the Solutrean adaptations in Northern Iberia has strongly influenced all developments in LGM studies across Iberia and beyond. Prof. Straus is now retired, but we hope that he can keep contributing for many years with his invaluable insights on the Late Pleistocene adaptations in Western Europe. He authored the first chapter of this book, and we gratefully dedicate the whole volume to him and his remarkable career.”

Early detection of brain degeneration on the horizon with innovative sensor

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s can be devastating to patients and their families. These diseases are difficult to diagnose before symptoms show, meaning it’s often already too late to reverse the damage to the central nervous system. Early detection is key for management of symptoms and attempts to stall progression of the disease, but current knowledge is limited when it comes to tools that aid in early detection. That knowledge gap is being addressed through cutting-edge research by a team at The University of New Mexico led by Professor Eva Chi of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Climate research paints bleak picture for large birds in Mojave Desert

New research conducted by scientists at The University of New Mexico and the University of California-Berkeley helps illustrate this point as deserts get drier and animals, in particular birds, try to adapt to the growing heat and diminishing resources. The conundrum in this case is the simple fact that desert birds need water to cool off, while deserts continue with accelerated warming and drying threatening any number of desert species including large birds. Wolf notes that this study shows how increased temperatures are becoming an increasingly potent driver of decline in bird populations in North America and shows how tightly linked animals are to their environments.

UNM students engineer assistants of the future

These computer-driven assistants known as “chatbots” are the focus of Associate Professor Lydia Tapia’s Artificial Intelligence class in the UNM School of Engineering Computer Science Department. As part of the Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (CS427/527) class, students design, create and code their own chatbot. A big part of that process is learning how to gauge intelligence by measuring it against human behavior. The objective is to create chatbots that, when interacting with a human, could be perceived as human-like due to their responses.

UNM associate professor studies the neurological origin of pleasure

Associate Professor James Cavanagh’s research, funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, seeks to identify a consistent quantifiable indicator of anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure. Cavanagh believes that he has found an observable neurological phenomenon, known as Reward Positivity (RewP), which indicates the occurrence of this reward process. A reduced or absent RewP response to normally rewarding stimuli, he hypothesizes, indicates anhedonia. Throughout this research, Cavanagh and his team will use UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC) resources to process the data they collect.

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