Jen Peterson, Ph.D.
I received my PhD in experimental psychology from Texas Christian University in 2013. My thesis and dissertation work examined the sexually dimorphic nature of ultrasonic vocalizations (USV) in Long Evans rats during senescence and, more precisely, how USVs can be used as a model of human vocal aging. Although the rat laryngeal system has been used as a model for aging in human systems, my work is unique in that it characterized the normal developmental changes in vocalizations and correlated them to the histological changes of the laryngeal tissue. Moreover, these studies showed that the age-related changes that occurred in laryngeal tissue were very similar in rats and humans, supporting the use of the rat model for human vocal aging. Overall, my previous research examined animal vocalizations as models for vocal aging and social communication in songbirds and rats.During my time as a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Kimberly Kirkpatrick's laboratory, I have been studying measures of impulsive choice behavior and the effects of time processing on impulsive choice. This is an especially interesting area of study because impulsive behavior is maladaptive in so many settings and is a symptom of a multitude of disorders such as schizophrenia, drug abuse, smoking , obesity, and compulsive gambling. While studying measures used for impulsive choice, our lab found a significant test-retest effect after 5 months in rats. This is evidence that impulsive choice behavior is a stable trait. This indicates that adults, who were impulsive in early life, will be impulsive when they age. However, time-based interventions may be able to change impulsive choice because although relatively stable, this trait is also malleable. Our lab has developed a time-based intervention that is effective in rats. This variable interval intervention improves choice behavior and timing. Examining the effectiveness of interventions is essential in helping people with many disorders improve their ability to delay reinforcement and make less impulsive choices. I am especially interested in how interventions can be implemented in aging populations. Research has shown that animals and humans become more self controlled as they age, making less impulsive choices overall. However, it is also evident that the ability to adjust choice behavior to a changing situation may become less flexible with age. Therefore, choice behavior is an individual trait yet one that is also influenced by one's stage of life and this behavior can be changed through specific interventions.
Peterson, J. R., Hill, C. C., & Kirkpatrick, K. (2015). Measurement of impulsive choice in rats: Same and alternate form test-retest reliability and temporal tracking. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 103(1),166-179. doi: 10.1002/jeab.124
Urbano, C.M., Peterson, J.R., & Cooper, B.G. (2013). Exploring vocal recovery after cranial nerve injury in Bengalese finches. Neuroscience Letters, 534, 112 – 116.
Peterson, J. R., Watts, C. R., Morris, J. A., Shelton, J. M., & Cooper, B. G. (2012). Laryngeal Aging and Acoustic Changes in Ultrasonic Vocalizations in the Long Evans Male Rat. Developmental Psychobiology. DOI: 10.1002/dev.21072
Secora, K. R.,Peterson, J. R., Urbano, C. M., Chung, B., Okanoya, K., & Cooper, B. G. (2012). Syringeal Specialization of Song Production in the Bengalese Finch. PLOS One, 7(3), 1-15.
Recent Conference Presentations
Peterson, J. R. , Hill, C., & Kirkpatrick K. (2014). The role of timing processes in three different impulsive choice procedures. Poster presentation at the 2014 meeting of Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C.
Peterson, J. R. , Hill, C., & Kirkpatrick K. (2014). Measurement of impulsive choice in rats: II. Test-retest reliability. Poster presentation at the spring Meeting of the International Conference on Comparative Cognition, Melbourne, FL.
Hill, C., Peterson, J. R., & Kirkpatrick, K. (2014). Measurement of impulsive choice in rats: I. Preliminary assessment. Poster presentation at the spring Meeting of the International Conference on Comparative Cognition, Melbourne, FL.
Peterson, J. R. & Cooper, B. G. (2013). Repeated testing and maturation, but not sexual experience, affects the acoustic features of ultrasonic vocalizations in young male Long Evans rats. Poster presentation at the 2013meeting of Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, California.
Taylor, J. O., Peterson, J. R. & Cooper, B. G. (2013). Social buffering through intermittent interactions in conspecific triads. Poster presentation at the 2013meeting of Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, California.
Peterson, J. R.,& Cooper, B. G. (2012). A longitudinal analysis of age-related acoustic alterations of ultrasonic vocalizations in male Long Evans rats. Poster presentation at the 2012 meeting of Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans, LA.