The Ohio State University at Marion

Psychology undergrads present findings on language comprehension in Boston

January 10, 2023
Psychology undergrads present findings on language comprehension in Boston

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Ohio State Marion psychology majors Stephanie Karrick and Molly Quinn traveled to Boston, MA at the end of autumn semester to present research findings on language comprehension during the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society.

The two undergrad students presented a research poster entitled, Exact or approximate? How is number information represented during language comprehension?

According to the students' research mentor, Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Nikole Patson, Karrick and Quinn’s project aims to understand how number information is represented in people's minds when they read sentences containing number words, such as, "There were four cookies on the plate."

"When people read sentences," said Patson, "we know they create a mental picture in their mind's eye. We want to know if and how numbers get represented. For the sentence above, do you have a picture in your head of exactly four cookies, or something else."

"One theory suggests we create approximate mental images for large numbers (numbers greater than 5) and an exact mental image for small numbers," Patson added.

"We think our data are consistent with the hypothesis that we create approximate mental images for large numbers and an exact mental image for small numbers," she said.

Patson believes the importance of the research lies in understanding how language involves so much more than just understanding each word in a sentence.

"The overarching goal of this work is to better understand how language comprehension works," she said, "and what kinds of information are involved in the process. This is important when designing reading or speech interventions."

"Interventions that just focus on vocabulary aren't always successful because we need to take into account how the language information is being represented in people's minds' eye," Patson concluded.

Patson said, "Stephanie and Molly did an excellent job presenting the work. They had lots of people stop by the poster and they did a fantastic job answering questions."

"I think it's important for undergraduates to have the opportunity to present data at professional conferences. It gives them an opportunity to develop their presentation skills and their confidence," she said.

"I think Molly and Stephanie were both surprised that they were able to talk to experts in cognitive psychology and answer their questions," said Patson. "In doing this, they realized how much they have learned being involved in this project and that they have developed their own expertise in this area of cognition."

Quinn a senior from Delaware, Ohio plans to graduate with her Ohio State degree in psychology this spring

"I am excited to begin my career in the psychology field," said Quinn. "I plan on pursuing a masters or a doctorate in cousenling psychology. "I plan to continue conducting research and become a licensed counselor.

Quinn said, "The Ohio State University at Marion has provided me with both great education and experiences, that have allowed me to learn more about myself and that growth will help me in my future career."

According to Quinn, it is thanks to Ohio State Marion and Dr. Patson that she had the amazing opportunity to the attend and present at the Psychonomic Society Conference in Boston.

"This gave me both educational and professional experience that I can apply to my last semester and the beginning of my professional career," she said.

"It showed me the great impact that research can have on the field of psychology, and inspired me to continue on with my own research, said Quinn. Additionally, "this experience gave me an inside look to research area of psychology and gave me clarity that this is a career that I wish to pursue."

Moving forward after this inspirational experience, Quinn plans to work hard on her research thesis, and purse a career research field after graduation.

"I am excited to see where my career aspirations and goals take me," said Quinn.

"Thank you Ohio State Marion, faulty, and staff for all the amazing skills and opportunities that they have provided for me," she said.

Although Marion native and junior psychology major Stephanie Karrick, is not 100% certain of her what career path she wants to pursue after graduation, she realizes the impact of the trip to Boston and her recent research presentation on her future.

"Getting to do hands-on research and seeing the process up close has the potential to help me in my future career," said Karrick.

"I thank Dr. Patson for offering me a position in her lab," she said, "because I would not have known about this opportunity otherwise."

"Going to the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society was an amazing experience and unlike anything I’ve ever done before," said Karrick. "Personally, I really enjoyed the trip. I don't leave Marion, Ohio very often, so getting to see an entirely new state was incredible," she added.

According to Karrick going to the conference was academically beneficial to both her and Quinn. In addition to everything they learned conducting and sharing findings from their research, it was also beneficial to hear about the research of many other psychologists from around the country.

"It would definitely be something that I would be interested in going to again if I was given the chance," she said.