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March 20, 2002

Calvin Gets NSF Grant for EEG Lab
 

Students at Calvin College may fall asleep in a new lab scheduled to open this fall in the school's psychology department. In fact, they'll be encouraged to do so.

That's because sleep research will be one of the topics of study for the new Electroencephalograph Laboratory, or EEG Lab for short, at Calvin.

The centerpiece of the new lab will be Grass Instruments' Neurodata Model 15 amplifier, a piece of equipment that measures electrical activity in the brain. Purchase of the machine, plus computers, software and other accompanying equipment necessary to complete the lab, is being financed by money from Calvin plus a $12,500 grant to the school from the National Science Foundation. The grant application was a joint effort by Paul Moes and Don Tellinghuisen of Psychology and Loren Haarsma of Physics.

When the lab is set up Calvin will be among a handful of schools with an EEG lab dedicated to hands-on operation at the undergraduate level.

Moes (above) says that students in psychology courses such as physiological psychology. cognitive psychology and psychology of motiviation will use the lab as part of their coursework and that the new lab also will be a very important part of the Calvin "physics for the health sciences" course. In addition, the lab will allow for more collaboration between Calvin's psychology and physics departments.

"Electrophysiological recording has become an essential element in many medical, human service and research settings," says Moes. "This lab will provide hands-on opportunities for our students that will really benefit them after graduation, including graduate school."

Moes, who was drawn to Calvin two years ago because of the school's commitment to faculty research, also plans to use the lab in his own research.

His research interests include interaction of the left and right cerebral hemispheres; agenesis (lack of development) of the corpus callosum, which connects the left and right hemispheres; and developmental neuropsychology (age related changes in brain function). In fact, Moes recently gave a presentation, together with Erin Nowak, a senior psychology major, at the International Neuropsychology Society meeting in Toronto (professor/student research projects and presentations are a hallmark of a Calvin undergraduate education).

Tellinghuisen also is excited about the possibilities for the lab for his teaching and research work.

My own research," he says, "is centered on studying visual attention and, in particular, how people use their mental resources to process visual stimuli. For example, what about the environment do people notice when they are carrying on a difficult versus an easy mental task? In the EEG lab I'll measure which areas of the brain are active when people are conducting different tasks."

Much of Tellinghuisen's work focuses specifically on how older individuals allocate attention to portions of the visual world. In fact, last summer he had a group of 70-year-old Calvin alumni participate in visual attention experiments.

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)
dehp@calvin.edu