shining STAR

Barnett Receives device Award to enhance Mental health Research

Dr. Michael Barnett obtained a $50,000 UT system Science and modern technology Acquisition and Retention (STAR) compensation to improve his research in novel modern technologies to improve mental health.

In addition to directing the UT Tyler memory Assessment and also Research Center, Barnett also directs the University’s Aging, Neuropsychology, and technology Lab. Through the STARs funds, the plans to purchase tools that will increase the scope of his research. His work concentrates on the applications of novel technologies, together as virtual reality, to neuropsychological assessment and also diagnosis the neurocognitive disorders, such together those brought about by alzheimer disease.

An assistant professor the psychology, Barnett also teaches four graduate neuropsychological evaluate courses and also a graduate-level seminar in death and also dying. He has actually served UT Tyler since summer 2018.

Learn more about the in the following question and also answer segment.

What does earning the UT System’s STAR award typical to you?

I am deep appreciative of this invest in mine research. I believe that the tools we will purchase will greatly broaden the kind of research questions we can investigate, offering us information around the locations of the brain that room recruited for specific cognitive tasks. Ns am looking front to including a brand-new component to the research I to be doing, and I think this will certainly be miscellaneous that improves the research experience and training that students in mine lab will receive.

With the funding, we will at some point purchase a sensible near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIR) system. I think most people are familiar with modern-day neuroimaging techniques, such together fMRI, the require individuals to enter a magnetic tube -- these room not helpful for most virtual reality applications. The fNIR is a wearable sensor the looks favor a headband that actions oxygenation of mind tissue. This will allow us to watch what is happening in one individual"s brain while they room in online reality. Us are likewise purchasing equipment that will enable us to measure conventional physiological responses: heart rate, galvanic skin responses and also so on, and also facial expressions.

Why is this research important?

Neuropsychologists are, that course, asked to contribute diagnostic data – so, patient come in or healthcare providers send them, wanting to recognize “Do I have Alzheimer’s disease?” yet as the population ages and, if over there is no a cure, lives much longer with neurocognitive impairment, over there is significantly questions of: “I have/this patient has actually Alzheimer’s disease; deserve to I/they drive a car?” In various other words, we require tools that have the right to speak to a patient’s everyday functional abilities.

Any interesting factoids/stats you"d choose to share pertaining to this research?

Standard caveats, here: ns talking about preliminary results because we are still collecting data, etc. Yet one point that I have actually been really interested by is a finding the individual’s physical activity level – your average daily step count in the real civilization – corresponds to the efficiency with which castle navigate a digital environment. We additionally have a job that compare individual’s capability to do meal preparation tasks for both typical meals and also nonsensical meals (e.g., placing a flowerpot in a blender and then serving it in a mug) and also to recall those tasks in digital reality.

As we had actually predicted, over there was reduced recall for nonsensical tasks. That finding stands the end to me due to the fact that it is a method to measure up real-world abilities, favor meal preparation, yet control because that previous suffer with cooking. So, someone who cooked their whole life may have actually an advantage on a cooking-based memory task; however, if us make the a nonsensical cooking task, us simulate the steps of cooking however can cancel out that advantage.

Any amazing research plans going forward?

I have submitted resources proposals because that a couple of projects. Among them the I’m most excited around is building a virtual reality-based device to measure up vulnerability to financial exploitation. Jae won exploitation, an especially of older adults through neurocognitive disorders, is a major problem and one that regularly does no receive much attention. The idea of the device I want to construct is that us simulate financial transactions (in digital reality) v virtual trustees and measure even if it is individuals can remember that returns their money and also who does not and also whether they deserve to make judgments that room in their very own financial ideal interest.

Why do you reap teaching?

It’s a satisfied to be able to focus on object of attention a semester in ~ a time. I enjoy trying to convey the things I have actually learned and also my enthusiasm because that the material to students.

What is her favorite course to teach, and also why?

I taught an undergraduate psychology of death and also dying food for several years at UNT (my previous ar of employment), and also I am happy to have the ability to teach it together a graduate seminar course below at UT Tyler. I enjoy that course since death and dying are interesting and also important subject that civilization often don’t think about – at least until it’s too late.

Why carry out you like working in ~ UT Tyler?

I have actually been impressed by the collegiality at UT Tyler. Faculty get in addition to each other and also care about their students.

Anything rather you’d like to add?

I am a gamer. Mine wife, Cheryl, is a lawyer and manager at the eco-friendly Protection Agency.

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We have actually two children: Erik is 11, and Alex just had actually his 9th birthday.