2/15 Psychology Forum

We are excited to announce the first installment of our new research talk series, Psychology Forum! Valerie has graciously offered to be the first speaker in the series. We hope that you will be able to attend. The talk will be at 12pm on Wednesday, February 15th, in DMH 353. Our intention is to have speakers from all areas of psychology, both SJSU professors and guests. If you have an idea for a great speaker or would be willing to talk at a future meeting, please e-mail Matt Capriotti or me and we will get you into the schedule. If you signed up on the sheet we passed around last semester, we will be contacting you soon!

Aging, memory, and the brain: Neural factors contributing to memory impairment in older adults
Valerie Carr, PhD
Department of Psychology
San José State University

Older adults experience impairments in memory ranging from mild to clinically significant. Given the critical role of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) in memory, age-related changes to this region may partially account for individual differences in memory. In this talk I will discuss a recent neuroimaging study conducted in collaboration with colleagues at Stanford that evaluated MTL structure and function in older adults representing a spectrum of cognitive health. I will also discuss an ongoing follow-up to this study, as well as current directions in my lab here at SJSU involving interventions to reduce memory decline in older adults.

Thank you all and we look forward to seeing you at the event!
-Evan Palmer & Matt Capriotti

FLIER – PsychForum021517

Spring 2017 – PSYC 190 and 195 Topics

Spring 2017

Psyc 190 Capstones
Sec 2 Psychological Trauma in Childhood and Adolescence
Sec 3 Psychological Trauma in Childhood and Adolescence
Sec 4 Epigenetics, Neuroplasticity and Other Neuroscience Topics
Sec 5 The Science of a Meaningful Life
Sec 6 Current Issues in LGBTQ Research
Sec 7 Psychopathology at the Cinema
Sec 8 The Parent-Child Relationship

Psyc 195 Honors
Sec 1 Intelligence (history and current status) + Meta-Analysis on Student Choice Topics

psyccapstones_sp2017 (pdf)

10/18 Letters of Recommendations & Informational Interviewing

Letters of Recommendations & Informational Interviewing hosted by Professor Steve Del Chiaro (and his dog!)
Obtain valuable skills on how to land your dream job!
Food and prizes will be available!
Tuesday, October 18th at 6:30pm Campus Village B (San Salvador and 10th) RAC A

This event is wheelchair accessible.
For information, please email ashley.castillosnyder@sjsu.edu

Psychology Career Guide


With over 115,000 students graduating with a Bachelor’s in Psychology every year competition for coveted career placements has never been higher.

To help these students begin thinking about their futures before entering the job market, we’ve created a guide of the best careers for psychology majors. It highlights several common paths of employment, as well as a few out-of-the-box options. The guide also explores useful workplace skills learned in the major and provides a collection of resources to help new psychology graduates.

Best Careers for Psychology Majors

New Faculty Research Passions

We are thrilled to welcome two new faculty to our department this year. Drs. Valerie Carr and Susan Snycerski are profiled in this fall’s College newsletter, Together. Follow the link to learn about all of our College’s new faculty, as well as our new Dean, Dr. Walt Jacobs.


Dr. Valerie Carr 

Carr, who earned her Ph.D. at UCLA before spending seven years as a post-doctoral fellow and research associate at Stanford University before coming to San José State, has found that two sub-structures of the hippocampus deep within the brain play a role in determining how vivid a memory is.“When you study memory, you realize how imperfect and fallible it is,” says Carr, newly hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology. She brings an interest in the use of neuroimaging methods like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to get a better understanding of the brain structures involved in episodic memory—our recall of autobiographical events and emotions.

In more recent research she has found that age-related changes in these areas – the dentate gyrus and Region CA 3—may account for the difficulties older people have in accessing these episodic memories.

Now, Carr is exploring whether exercise-based interventions might help people at risk for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease by spurring the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus. “What does that exercise regimen need to be?” Carr asks. “That’s my main interest.”

It can be challenging to work with older adults who have mild cognitive impairment, she says. “It’s very likely they’re going to develop Alzheimer’s disease. It can be depressing. A lot of my sense of self-worth comes from thinking that I’m fighting for those people. That gives me a sense of satisfaction in my job.”

380_susan snycersky_2


Dr. Susan Snycerski

She asks students to anonymously self-report their drug use while also testing for signs of neurocognitive impairment. Based on the small sample she has collected thus far, most San José State students don’t abuse hard drugs, but a fair number combine caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and marijuana in various ways., Snycerski says.These days, she’s looking at simultaneous poly-drug use, where someone takes two mind-altering substances at once. “There isn’t a lot of research in that area,” says Snycerski, who recently joined the Department of Psychology as tenure-track assistant professor after 10 years as a lecturer.

The Warren, Mich., native earned her master’s and Ph.D. from Western Michigan University, where she studied the effects of drugs in animal models. Later, she did a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute on Drug Abuse researching gamma-hydroxybuterate—better known as the date rape drug GBH.

Snycerski and her husband, Sean Laraway (an associate professor in the department), moved to San José in 2004 without having jobs. He started teaching at San José State that year as a lecturer and joined the tenure track in 2008. Snycerski began teaching classes as a lecturer in 2005 and she has also served as a major advisor since 2008. “I really enjoy it,” she says. “It’s a great way to communicate with the students outside the classroom.”

Snycerski says she’s excited about having more time and resources for research. “It’s a nice change,” she says. “I’m looking forward to my new role.”

Reprinted from Together, the College of Social Sciences newsletter, Fall 2015.