Director, Elizabeth R. Losin, Ph.D.
We combine theory and methodology from anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience to understand the complex relationships between culture, the brain, and health. Ultimately, we believe that this interdisciplinary approach has the potential to refine and expand our understanding of the human mind and brain, and inform translational approaches in domains such as health care and education.
Our lab is part of the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami.
Culture and Health
How does culture impact health? How does the doctor-patient relationship influence health outcomes? What are the brain mechanisms underlying health disparities?
How do we acquire our cultural beliefs and practices? Which brain mechanisms underlie cultural acquisition? How do cultural biases influence learning?
How does culture shape the brain? Are there brain differences underlying cultural differences in behavior? Are there aspects of brain function that are culturally universal?
Summer intern Efrain Rodriguez Sierra presented a poster on his summer research project entitled "Evaluating components of bicultural identity in Puerto Ricans and other Latin Americans residing in the United States" as a part of his participation in The Leadership Alliance Program. Efra's project demonstrated that level of ethnic identification with images evocative of Hispanic culture, but not images of American culture, is impacted by age of arrival into the US. He also found that ethnic identification with representations from both cultural backgrounds was not significantly different between Puerto Ricans and other Latino Americans residing in the United States. This finding demonstrates Latino Americans in general share more similarities than differences in their patterns of bicultural involvement.
Graduate student Steven Anderson presented his research on the emotion regulation strategy expressive suppression at the annual meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM) in Singapore, held June 17-21. He presented data that he collected in Shihui Han's Culture and Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at Peking University as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) Program. Steven found common recruitment of prefrontal cortical regions during the latter part of engaging in expressive suppression to both pain faces and negative affective pictures. He found significant differences in brain activity between the two stimulus types in the right amygdala, with greater amygdala activity toward pain faces vs. negative affective pictures especially in the earlier part of engaging in expressive suppression.
Each year, neuroimaging researchers from UM and FIU gather together for Brainhack: a one-day conference that involves a series of faculty talks, collaborative "hacking" sessions, and a trainee data blitz. Today, at Brainhack 2018, SCN Lab members Steven Anderson, Morgan Gianola, and Jenna Perry each gave brief talks on their respective lines of research. Great job, everyone!
Congratulations to Efrain Rodriguez who has been selected for a fully paid summer internship with The Leadership Alliance's Summer Research Early Identification Program. Efrain is a current junior at the University of Puerto Rico. This summer, Efrain will be working with graduate student Morgan Gianola on a project investigating pain perception in English-Spanish bilinguals.
Congratulations to undergraduate research assistant Madeleine Snider, who was selected to receive funding from the University of Miami through the Lois Pope Neuroscience Summer Research Scholarship. This fellowship will allow Madeleine to return to the lab over the summer to work as an undergraduate research fellow. During this time she will continue her work studying opioid prescribing disparities.
Dr. Elizabeth Losin recently was awarded a K01 grant from the National Institutes of Health for a project titled "Psychological and Brain Mechanisms Underlying Disparities in Opioid and Non-Opioid Pain Treatment Decisions.". The K01 grant is a prestigious award for early career scientists, intended to provide financial resources for an intensive mentored project. This grant will allow our lab to study the factors leading to opioid prescribing disparities across different groups. The project will involve the creation of a stimulus set specifically designed to be ecologically valid, and the later use of this stimulus set in an fMRI setting to determine which brain areas are associated with clinicians viewing others' pain and making prescription decisions. There are also plans to bring in clinicians to make face-to-face assessments of pain using standardized patient actors, so as to help determine how the study's findings can be applied to clinical settings in order to reduce the negative impacts of pain stereotypes. All in all, our lab is very excited to begin work on this important project!