Wheeling Jesuit University

Pain and Nintendo Wii are Research Topics for Students Presenting at the Capitol

Undergraduate Research Day at the West Virginia Capitol - March 12, 2009, Charleston.

WHEELING, WV, March 11, 2009 - Pain and Nintendo are two of the research topics of Wheeling Jesuit University students participating in the annual Research Day at the Capitol on March 12.

(From left are professor Raudenbush, adjunct professor Kristin McCombs and students Scott Bonnette and Tim Wright standing in the Capitol rotunda.)

Held in the Capitol rotunda, the Undergraduate Research Day runs from 8:45 a.m. to noon. Students present their discoveries in poster format and talk to legislators about their findings. The projects are all original research and the posters have been designed for a general audience and to inspire questions from viewers.

The titles of the two Wheeling Jesuit topics and students presenting are:

Effects of Auditory and Visual Distractions on Altering Pain Perception, by senior Tim Wright, a psychology-philosophy major from Wheeling. Wright tested hundreds of individuals and their ability to withstand pain from freezing water in this study. Subjects placed their hands in freezing water for a certain amount of time, while listening to distracting music or viewing video. After correlating the results of his study, Wright then determined the ability of audio and visual distractions to control pain perception.

According to Wright, past research has examined the effects of music and visual distractions on pain; however, no study has ever assessed the interactive effects of the two stimuli. Considering that these past studies have all used college-aged students as their samples, and that the older population is the main sufferer of pain, new research is required in order to make externally valid conclusions. Each participant completed a cold pressor task, while watching different combinations of music and video genres. Physiological measurements, mood, and workload were assessed. The pain intensity ratings were analyzed with a 3 within (music) x 10 within (time) x 3 between (video) x 2 between (sex) analysis of variance for the sub-sample of people over 30. Participants reported the least pain in the romantic/classical condition, and, over time, the pain ratings increased less severely for this condition. An independent samples t-test showed that the older sub-sample liked classical music more than the younger sub-sample, which may account for the greater effects of classical music. Thus, it appears that perceived pain is closely associated with the presence of preferred stimuli, and such information can be used as a non-pharmacological adjunct to pain management.

Video Game Transfer of Training: The Ability of Nintendo Wii Bowling Practice to Promote Actual Bowling Performance by senior Scott Bonnette, a psychology major from Frostburg, Md. and Tim Wright.

With the introduction of the Nintendo Wii video gaming system as a simulator of real-life sporting events, many have questioned its ability to transfer skills learned on the Wii to real-life sports performance, explained Bonnette. Participants were taken to a bowling alley to establish a baseline of skill. Following the baseline assessment, half of the participants then practiced bowling with the Wii, three times a week for two weeks. The other half of the participants (the control group) abstained from bowling for two weeks. Both participant groups then returned to the bowling alley and their actual bowling performance was re-assessed. This study found no significant transfer of training effect for the Wii gaming condition. More importantly, a negative correlation was found between the Wii bowling training session performance and the post-Wii practice real-life bowling re-assessment session. This indicates that the Wii training was actually detrimental to actual bowling performance, suggesting that Wii bowling and actual bowling require a completely different set of skills, and that practice on the gaming system will not transfer to real-life performance.

Associate professor of psychology Bryan Raudenbush, accompanied the students and mentored them in their research. Raudenbush is also the director of undergraduate research at the university and has taught at WJU for 12 years. He received a $14,485 grant award from the Governor as part of the event celebration.

Gov. Joe Manchin presented a total of 12 grants to help advance scientific research at West Virginia colleges and universities. The grants, which totaled more than $770,000, were funded competitively through the state’s Research Challenge Fund (RCF) and the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts (E&A).

One hundred and six students took part in the sixth annual Undergraduate Research Day Thursday.

Other schools attending include: Alderson-Broaddus College, Bluefield State College, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Marshall University, Shepherd University, the University of Charleston, West Virginia University, West Virginia Wesleyan College and WVU Institute of Technology.

Students are presenting posters in the areas of biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science and information technology, criminal justice, engineering, English, environmental studies, geography, geology, history, history/anthropology/sociology, mathematics, physics, political science and psychology.

This event helps members of the State Legislature and Executive Branch understand the importance of undergraduate research by talking directly with the students whom these programs impact.

Undergraduate Research Day is under the auspices of the West Virginia EPSCoR Office, which is responsible for development, administration, management, and implementation of the state's experimental research improvement program.

For more information on undergraduate research opportunities at the university, please contact Raudenbush at 304-243-2330.

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