Psychology – understanding human behaviour and experience
Dr. Stephen Smith – Pioneering neuroscience
Have you ever had a strange and pleasurable tingling on your scalp, neck, or shoulders? It can happen when someone is whispering to you, or when you watch someone get a haircut or head massage. If so, you are not alone. Upwards of 40,000 people worldwide are thought to experience this tingling sensation called an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), yet surprisingly, this interesting condition has never been subject to scientific testing.
UWinnipeg psychology professor Dr. Stephen Smith is changing that. “Psychology uses the scientific method to understand human behaviour. Advances in brain-imaging techniques now allow us to examine the activity in the nervous system underlying how we think, act, and feel.” Dr. Smith and his colleagues are also using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the role of the spinal cord in various emotional behaviours. “We are the only team in the world doing this kind of spinal cord research. Our goal is to show the link between activity in the spinal cord and different parts of the brain. This will allow us to produce a more complete picture of the neural substrates of our emotional experiences.”
As a third-year Psychology student, Ari Decter-Frain has been involved in research looking into obedience of authority, and whether people’s generosity can be detected through their speech. “I am most excited about understanding the way people end up with their beliefs and ideologies,” he says.
Ari says the advantage of studying at UWinnipeg is that undergraduates get the opportunity to be involved in hands-on research, design studies, and even publish in academic journals. He also cites small class sizes as a positive on campus.
“Psychology has so many aspects to it, it’s a really great foundational degree because you can go into graduate school, or law, or economics. I am weighing my options and feel that all doors are open to me.” He will graduate with a four year honours degree next year.
Kerri Hildebrand graduated from UWinnipeg in 2012 and is now pursuing a Master’s degree in psychology with the goal of becoming a school psychologist.
She is naturally drawn to psychology because she wants to understand the human experience and what makes people think and behave the way they do. Kerri also says psychology is a wonderful tool for fostering self-awareness and growth, enhancing quality of life, and learning strategies to improve mental health. She has a strong interest in helping people who experience mental distress or illness.
“At UWinnipeg, the quality of instruction was excellent and the professors were accessible and engaged with their students. I felt like my educational goals were valued and supported, helping me achieve far more than I ever thought possible. This has given me the confidence to reach for even higher goals in my future.”
Spotlight on Psychology
Psychology studies scientifically such varied topics as prejudice, love and other emotions learning and memory, leadership, reading, social development, morality, physical and mental health, decision-making, addiction, and personality
Courses examine topics from cultural, social, individual, and neural/biological perspectives, and are taught by active researchers who bring their expertise into the classroom
Students are involved in cutting-edge research and see their achievements highlighted at our annual undergraduate research conference
Former students have moved on to careers not only in psychology, but also in medicine, law, neuroscience, business, and social work. The communication, research, and critical-thinking skills learned in psychology are useful in many walks of life