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?
Every year, the University of Miami Psychology Department selects one student per area as an Ironson Distinguished Speaker. This year, our graduate student Steven Anderson received that honor for the Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience area of our department, for his work on the neural bases of expressive suppression and neural empathy for pain. Associated with this award is a cash prize, as well as the opportunity to present his work at the Ironson Distinguished Speakers Student Colloquium, which took place on Thursday, April 25, at 3:30 PM. Steven gave a talk titled “Expressive suppression modulation of the empathic neural response to pain”. Great job, Steven!
Research assistant Taylor Bak also volunteers as the Vice President of Internal Relations for U of Miami’s Girls Inspiring Rising Ladies in STEM (G. I. R. L. S.) group, which organized a “STEMinist Day” event today. As part of this event, Taylor put together a tour of the Cox Neuroscience Annex for the girls of PACE Miami, a “prevention and intervention program that addresses the needs of [at-risk] girls from the ages of 11-17”. The aim of this tour was to inspire these girls to consider STEM careers, occupations that are largely male-dominated and are not often presented as realistic options to school-age girls.
Today Morgan Gianola traveled to the Conference of Florida Graduate Schools to present his poster titled “Selection and characterization of cultural priming stimuli for activation of Hispanic and US-American cultural mindsets among Spanish-English bilinguals.” He first presented this poster at the Graduate and Postdoctoral Research Symposium at the University of Miami on March 7. There, his presentation was awarded “Best Poster Presentation” in the Health and Life Sciences category, and he was selected to represent the UM in that category at the Conference of Florida Graduate Schools poster session today, joining graduate students from around the state at the hosting institution, Florida International University.
Liz Losin was selected as a speaker for a cross-disciplinary panel on “Elucidating Factors Contributing to Health Disparities in Pain: Applying the National Institutes on Aging Health Disparities Research Framework” at the annual meeting on the American Pain Society. Liz gave her talk on “Sociocultural and neural mechanisms of ethnic disparities in pain and pain treatment” yesterday at the 3 PM panel. Graduate student Steven Anderson also traveled to Milwaukee for the conference, where he presented a poster titled “Doctor-patient racial/ethnic concordance predicts pain: Evidence from simulated clinical interactions“, which uses data from our lab’s doctor-patient simulation paradigm.
For the second year in a row, the Cox Neuroscience Annex and UM’s Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience program enjoyed each other’s company at a Halloween potluck. We all had way too many sweets and too much fun! SCN Lab members Liz Losin, Steven Anderson, Morgan Gianola, Jenna Perry, and Beatriz Yepes (pictured) were able to take some time out today for the Halloween festivities.
Graduate student Steven Anderson presented his research on the relationship between emotion regulation ability and empathy for pain at the first Mind & Life International Research Institute in Kyoto, Japan, held September 1-5. Steven presented data that he collected in Shihui Han's Culture and Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at Peking University under the auspices of the National Science Foundation (NSF) East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) Program. Investigating how belief in the social appropriateness of outward pain expression relates to emotion regulation and empathy for pain, Steven found that individuals who habitually suppress their emotions are more likely to deem outward pain expression as inappropriate. He also found neuroimaging evidence that suggests that greater belief that outward pain expression is inappropriate is associated with decreases in activity in brain regions previously associated with visual and empathic responding when passively viewing faces of individuals in pain.