The Medina Lab in the Department of Psychology at Emory University studies how we represent our bodies and the space around us. The lab uses a variety of cognitive neuroscientific techniques, including detailed cognitive examinations of individuals with brain damage, experiments with neurologically intact individuals, and non-invasive brain stimulation (transcranial magnetic stimulation). This position is ideal for someone who wants to gain research experience before entering graduate school and someone who is keenly interested in cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, cognitive psychology and/or brain stimulation. We do quite a bit of research with interesting perceptual illusions, embodiment, and case studies – if that interests you, apply!
Please provide a cover letter, CV, and contact information for 3 references. Apply here.
A detailed job description is below.
Under the general direction of the Principal Investigator, the Research Specialist will oversee the day-to-day activities of the lab. These responsibilities include ensuring that all research protocols are adhered to, recruiting, scheduling and testing participants, obtaining brain scans, and recording, analyzing, and interpreting research data. The Research Specialist is also responsible for the supervision of the undergraduate researchers involved in the lab.
- Uses scientific training and independent judgment to plan, schedule, and carry out day-to-day activities, procedures and research studies, ensuring efficient workflow and adequate care and treatment of research participants.
- Contributes to the development and implementation of protocols, procedures, and techniques relating to all aspects of research.
Uses computer-based statistical and graphic programs and techniques to analyze and interpret data. Provides initial analyses of results to the Principal Investigator.
- Makes suggestions for improvements in techniques and interpretation, as appropriate. Keeps all lab data properly recorded, organized and stored for easy retrieval by researcher and research/accounting auditors, and to ensure data integrity, quality control, and protocol compliance.
- Establishes and adheres to appropriate data collection systems and procedures, according to pre-established research protocol; coordinates and monitors the collection, processing, and recording of data, as required by established study protocol.
- Manages compliance with human subject protocols. Coordinates participant visits. Explains all procedures to participants in accordance with University and federal protocol for working with human research participants and obtains their written consent to participate. Maintains strong working relationships with participating individuals.
- Oversees fiscal management by managing payments to study participants and monitoring supply inventories. Coordinates and assists in organizing lab events and outreach.
- Provides specialized training and supervises undergraduate research assistants on all areas of the research. Delegates work according to the individuals’ skills, knowledge, and abilities.
- Clearly explains work assignments. Establishes and communicates fully successful performance criteria. Provides timely and specific feedback. Serves as collaborator in the preparation of co-authored manuscripts and conference presentations. Contacts area hospitals, stroke support groups, and other sources to recruit brain-damaged individuals. Coordinates with other departments at Emory University that also work with brain-damaged individuals. Maintains a lab website and wiki.
- Performs miscellaneous job-related duties as assigned.
- Bachelor’s degree in psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, computer science, or related field with at least one year related experience working or volunteering in a psychology or neuroscience lab; or any equivalent combination of experience and/or education from which comparable knowledge, skills, and abilities have been achieved.
- Knowledge and understanding of experimental procedure, data collection, and analysis.
Ability to analyze research methodology, protocol and procedures and make recommendations for improvements and modifications.
- Ability to develop and follow research methodology and protocol. Ability to adapt standard procedures, facilities and/or equipment to meet specific operational needs. Ability to make decisions in the field and/or at professional conferences without direct supervisor oversight, when appropriate.
- Effective communication, human relations, and listening skills. Ability to collaborate with students, faculty and/or staff in a team environment. Ability to supervise and train staff, including organizing, prioritizing, and scheduling work assignments preferred.
- Ability to use computer applications to design and implement cognitive psychological studies.
Ability to use statistical software packages to analyze data. Experience with SPSS, R, or other statistical software packages.
- Skill in the use of computer applications for writing papers, making presentations, and designing figures (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop).
We would like to welcome a new member to the lab, Carli Fine. Carli received her bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland, and was most recently a research assistant in David Brang’s Multisensory Perception Lab at the University of Michigan. Carli has done quite interesting work with electrocorticography and synesthesia in the past, and we are looking forward to having her in our lab.
Our lab went to our first, in-person post-pandemic conference: IMRF 2022 in Ulm, Germany. First, Anu Nair gave a poster on her first-year project titled “Viewed Touch Influences Tactile Detection by Altering Decision Criterion.” Luisa Raigosa-Posada gave a talk on her MVPA work with former lab student Yuqi Liu on the “Neural correlates of tactile representations in somatotopic and external reference frames.” Finally, Prof. Medina gave a talk in the final symposium of the conference, titled “(Mis)perceiving tactile location using the mirror box illusion: Examining the relationship between perceived touch and embodiment.”
We are quite excited to be part of a new collaboration with Dr. Charles Dhong, assistant professor in the Department of Material Science & Biomedical Engineering. In our new R01, titled “Creating New Tactile Sensations for Tactile Aids with Designer Materials“, Dr. Dhong will be creating new tactile materials by manipulating surfaces at the molecular level. These designer materials will then be tested to see if they can improve tactile processing in the blind. We also plan to use these materials in psychophysical experiments to understand fundamental properties of tactile processing.
Based on a collaboration with Ph.D. student Emma Beisheim-Ryan and Meg Sions in the Department of Physical Therapy, we have three new papers out on phantom limb pain.
- Beisheim, E.H., Pohlig, R.T., Hicks, G.E., Horne, J.R., Medina, J., & Sions, J.M. (2022). Mechanical Pain Sensitivity in Post-Amputation Pain. Clinical Journal of Pain, 38, 23-31.
- Beisheim, E.H., Pohlig, R.T., Medina, J., Hicks, G.E. & Sions, J.M. (2022). Body representation among adults with phantom limb pain: Results from a foot identification task. European Journal of Pain, 26, 255-269.
- Beisheim-Ryan, E.H., Hicks, G., Pohlig, R.T., Medina, J., Sions, J.M. (online ahead of print). Body image and perception among adults with and without phantom limb pain. PM&R: The Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation.
At her post-doctoral position at Georgetown, our PhD alumnus Yuqi Liu has just published a fascinating paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, in which she examined action representations in individuals born without hands. It’s a very interesting paper and worth your time to read.
Where do people feel a touch when their hand is not where they see it? In the classic rubber hand illusion, people feel touch on the seen rubber hand when it is brushed in synchrony with their unseen actual hand. But does the actual hand still influence tactile perception?
Using the mirror box illusion, we found that when there was spatial mismatch between visual and proprioceptive information of hand position, the perceived location of tactile stimuli on the skin surface was systematically biased toward the proprioceptively-defined hand position compared to baseline. These results provide evidence that the actual hand position exerts influence on tactile localization, adding to past findings that information from external space affects tactile localization in somatotopic space. You can read it here.
We are delighted to welcome three new members to the lab.
Pushpita Bhattacharyya is a new PhD student who received her undergraduate degree from the University of California – San Diego. While working with Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, she examined grapheme-color synesthesia in Bengali. She plans to continue this research and expand to studying mirror-touch synesthesia.
Luisa Raigosa Posada is a new 4+1 student. She comes with a Master of Music degree in clarinet performance and a BS in Neuroscience from the University of Delaware. She will be working on neuroimaging projects – specifically using multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) and representational similarity analysis (RSA) to examine multisensory integration and representations of tactile space.
Riwa Safa is a new PhD student who received her undergraduate degree from the American University of Beirut. Her previous research examined the relationship between reading direction and face perception. She is working on visuoproprioceptive integration, with a focus on evidence from individuals with stroke.
Our new case study has been published in Neuropsychologia. We report an individual with subcortical damage who had excellent detection of light touch on the contralesional hand. However, his tactile localization on the contralesional hand was severely impaired, with his responses clustering on the left side of his hand.
Interestingly, “side” depended on the position and orientation of his hand. Regardless of whether his hand was positioned palm-up or palm-down, his errors were always on the left side of the hand relative to the participant’s viewpoint (i.e. towards the 5th finger with palm down, towards the thumb with palm up). When the hand was turned 90 degrees, his errors were made towards the left side of the hand in a hand-centered frame of reference.
This provides strong evidence for a dissociation of tactile detection and localization, shows that body position can modulate tactile localization, and provides evidence for hand-centered representations for touch. You can read the manuscript here.
We would like to welcome two new members to the lab – Elisabetta Ambron and Anupama Nair. Elisabetta Ambron is a post-doctoral fellow who received her Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh, and was recently a post-doc at the University of Pennsylvania. She will be studying body representations, focusing on research with brain-damaged individuals. Anupama Nair is a new graduate student who received her B.A. at St. Xavier’s College and received her M.Sc. at the University of Amsterdam. After working on synesthesia and neuroimaging at the University of Michigan and UT-Dallas, she now begins her career as a graduate student in our lab.