Today marked my first full week of working as a research assistant in the Yale Positive Emotion and Psychopathology (YPEP) Laboratory, and I’ve learned so much! My tasks this week have introduced me to how organized and well oiled a high-level research facility must be in order to run efficiently. These tasks have included inputting research participant data, learning laboratory protocol, and transcribing/checking MRI output. I’ve also learned about measuring sympathetic nervous system responses and MRI scanning. This is important because I will be responsible for attaching sensors to research participants and running participants through specific experiments in the near future.

Research at the YPEP lab investigates the interaction between positive emotion and physical/mental health. Most of the current projects involve individuals who have bipolar disorder and are actively manic. Mania is a period of substantially elevated, irritated, or grandiose mood lasting at least a week (or until hospitalization). A manic state is commonly characterized by a decreased need for sleep, increased motor activity, talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility, and an increased interest in pleasurable activities regardless of risk. People who experience this state typically exhibit positive emotion to a severe degree. That being said, I look forward to familiarizing myself with this new clinical population, and learning more about the significance of positive emotion in psychopathology!

This image is actually of my own brain from an MRI scan. I’ll be using scans like this from other peoples’ brains for research throughout the summer. Luckily, my brain is fairly normal :)