Clemson psychology professor conducts sleep research at Vienna university
By Molly Collins
CLEMSON — Clemson University Alumni Distinguished Professor of psychology June Pilcher returned recently from Austria, where she worked with University of Vienna researchers to study ways college students’ sleep habits affect how they function socially.
Pilcher received a Fulbright-Freud Award to work with the Social, Cognitive, Affective and Neuroscience Unit (SCAN) at the University of Vienna. She also worked with the Sigmund Freud Museum, giving a series of talks and lectures.
Pilcher participated in research with the university’s SCAN unit, a center that conducts research in the fields of social neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience and affective neuroscience. Collaboratively, they initiated two research projects, the first focusing on sleep habits and social cognition in college students.
“This project will provide us with data that will allow us to better understand how sleep is related to social functioning,” she said.
The group currently is analyzing the results of data collected from approximately 400 students.
The second project, still being developed, will focus on how brain stimulation affects self-control when people are sleep-deprived. The study will examine the ability of the participants to perform a series of tasks after brain stimulation, while also measuring emotion and empathy. Data collection is anticipated to begin in January 2013.
Pilcher plans to continue these projects at Clemson by involving her students.
“Although there was not enough time to complete either of these projects while I was in Vienna, I will continue to work with my new collaborators, which will offer my Creative Inquiry teams and graduate students the opportunity to be involved in an international research effort,” said Pilcher.
At the University of Vienna, Picher also taught an upper-level seminar on brain and behavior to a class of 40 undergraduate students.
“I enjoyed teaching and interacting with the students very much,” said Pilcher. “The Austrian students were much like our students at Clemson.”
The Fulbright program is a program sponsored by the U.S. Government that promotes educational exchange between the United States and other countries.
See Pilcher's related blog post about her trip.