Gateway Gazette

Technology Meets Psychology at Mount Royal University’s New Centre for Psychological Innovation

Researchers at Mount Royal University are set to advance the next wave of psychological inquiry with the completion of the new Centre for Psychological Innovation.

Psychology students and Mount Royal University administrators partnered on a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 5 for the Centre of Psychology Innovation.

As part of Research and Scholarship Days 2017, a grand opening was held (earlier this month) for the leading-edge facility. The 437-square-metre centre was built over the past two years at a cost of $1.4 million.

Now complete, the Centre for Psychological Innovation serves as an arsenal of high-tech research tools.

It features a virtual reality lab, two eye-tracker suites and a biological lab with tanks of freshwater snails. One-way glass observation rooms are found throughout the research suite, including a dedicated room for observing family interactions, as well as sophisticated video and audio editing suites.

No detail is too small. Researchers can use precise temperature controls and an anti-vibration table for microscopy to ensure they are getting solid results.

The creation of a dedicated lab space marks a major step forward for psych research at Mount Royal.

“Technology allows us to measure aspects of daily life in an academically rigorous setting,” said Anthony Chaston, PhD, Assistant Chair of the Department of Psychology. “Our research doesn’t stay in the lab.

“It leads to outcomes that make life better for people. It also inspires others to build on our work.”

Projects underway look at how virtual reality can reduce anxiety, the potential effects of antidepressants and other medications being flushed into our water supply and how to predict sociopathy and psychopathy by measuring how people read faces.

One of Mount Royal’s largest and most vibrant programs, the Department of Psychology is comprised of 20 full-time professors, 15 part-time faculty, 60 research assistants, 10 Honours students and more than 600 Psychology majors. It also offers between 4,000 and 4,500 hours of hands-on experiential learning to Psychology majors and non-psychology students in introductory classes.

The Centre for Psychological Innovation builds on Mount Royal’s rich tradition of providing undergraduate research opportunities. It is a distinctly collaborative space, with individuals at all stages of their academic careers sharing insights or participating in “cross-talk.”

Under a phased approach to opening the centre, many faculty members and students are already experiencing the benefits of the new space.

“I feel so lucky to participate in something of this magnitude,” said Josh Stewart, a fourth-year Honours Psychology student. “This experience will open up so many future opportunities.”

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