Hamline News

Wesley and Lorene Artz Cognitive Neuroscience Research Center Unveiled

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Members of the Hamline community from alumni to faculty, the tennis team to physics students, all gathered in the northwest corner of Giddens Learning Center over Alumni Weekend to celebrate the dedication of a new research center. Due to a generous gift from physics professor Jerry Artz in honor of his parents, the Wesley and Lorene Artz Cognitive Neuroscience Research Center will give psychology students the opportunity to dive into hands-on research.

“Jerry is more than our beloved physics professor,” said President Fayneese Miller at the dedication. “Our university community is inspired by Jerry’s legacy. Our community will live long and strong because of his commitment in so many ways.”

After being a part of the Hamline community for 40 years, Artz jumped at the chance to contribute to the new research center in honor of his parents. His mother and aunt had both suffered from Alzheimer's. With the new research center, he hopes students will work toward understanding and curing the disease.

“I’m so overwhelmed by all of you coming out here to see the dedication of mom and dad’s lab,” said Artz during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “The funding of the Wesley and Lorene Artz Cognitive Neuroscience Research Center will be another way help the best and the brightest do great work at Hamline.”

Students have already begun using the lab for collaborative research projects alongside Erik Asp, a neuroscience professor in the Psychology Department and the director of the research center. Asp has conducted research in areas of cognitive neuroscience pertaining to doubt, credulity, and effects of aging. As students take on projects in the lab, he is able to guide them through creating their own experiments.

Four students are currently working on research in the lab, focusing on different variables that affect doubt in cognitive processing. They have studied how participants understand false information when they are sleep deprived or are undergoing physical exertion. This could lead to findings about how people act under different stressors. Their research could evolve into studying brain trauma, as well, into what is called the lesion method.

“We hope to have patients that have undergone some sort of brain trauma, like a stroke or tumor resection, come in and do neuropsychological testing and EEG studies,” said Asp. “I don’t know of one school that does lesion work where undergraduate students will have the same type of lesion patient access that they will have here.”

The lab comes equipped with a 32 channel electroencephalogram (EEG) and a biopack to measure electrodermal activity, heart rate, and breathing patterns. There are also numerous lab rooms for students to meet with participants and analyze data. While this equipment is paramount for new types of research students are working toward, it is not what makes this new research facility so significant, says Erik Asp.

“Students will be able to design their own experiments, come up with their own theories, and test it in a way that is completely unique in undergraduate research,” said Asp. “The primary purpose of the lab, besides teaching, is doing top-level, cutting-edge research.”

The goal of the Cognitive Neuroscience Research Center is to also integrate hands-on neuroscience research into classes, much like other labs on campus. The Psychology Department has a state-of-the-art interaction lab and versatile lab spaces with an adjoining recording rooms, so that student experimenters can monitor those recordings without intruding on the participants. Classes like Research Methods teach students how to use these different lab spaces with certain methodologies.

This opportunity only adds to the numerous ways that Artz has helped touch the lives of students over his four decades at Hamline. Through psychology research, physics classes, and support in athletics, students continue to see his devotion to the university and his belief in a liberal arts education.

For more information about this story, contact Gail Nosek, the director of public relations and social media, via e-mail or at (651) 523-2511.