News In Brief

Study Finds Birth Control Pills May Impact Memory

Recent research studies at UC Irvine reveal that women who use contraceptives such as birth control pills experience changes in memory.

Experiments have shown that women using contraceptives are able to recall the gist of an emotional event better, while those not using the pills can retain details better.

The experiment was conducted by neurobiologist Larry Cahill’s research group.

During the study, groups of women who were either taking the contraceptive or experiencing natural hormonal cycles were shown pictures of a mother, her son, and a car accident.

Some groups were told that the car hit a curb, while others were told that the car hit the son and that he was now critically injured.

After the groups were told about the events, they were each given a surprise test about what they remembered.

Women using contraceptives were able to more clearly remember the main steps in the event, while women not on the pills could remember the specific details better, such as the fact that there was a fire hydrant next to the car.

UCI graduate researcher Shawn Neilson stressed that using contraceptives does not negatively affect memory.

“It’s a change in the type of information they remember, not a deficit,” said Neilson.

Pre-Law Outreach Program Provides New Opportunities

UC Irvine Law School’s Pre-Law Outreach Program held its annual informational programs this summer in order to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds prepare for and apply to law school.

In order to qualify for this free program, each participant had to be a full-time college student at the time the application was filed. In addition, every student had to possess a grade point average of at 3.0 or higher and needed to come from “disadvantaged” circumstances.

The last requirement could be fulfilled by having a family income within 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Speaking a language other than English at home, being a first-generation college student or facing other educational issues were other qualifications as well.

During the two different sessions over summer, students heard from a criminal court judge, a large-firm lawyer, a Los Angeles public defender and many other prominent figures.

“We’re teaching students what to expect from law school, how to prepare for it, and how to apply,” said Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.“We hope one day they will be inspired to use their legal skills and give back to the community.

Majority Rules– But Can It Predict the Future?

In an attempt extrapolate into the future, UC Irvine cognitive scientists are amassing public opinions  to make predictions into the future.

According to Mark Steyvers, Professor of Cognitive Sciences, the population is far more intelligent collectively than it might seem.

Steyvers is a part of nation-wide effort.  Sponsored by the  Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, the group aims to generate statistical constructs that incorporate people’s opinions to determine future affairs.

The group will aggregate individual opinions through a software program known as Forecasting Ace. Individuals will be asked to predict the probability of various events in the range of a certain time frame.

Prior to contributing, participants fill a brief survey in which they evaluate their personal expertise in a variety of fields including: technology, politics, economics, science, security business, military and health. This ensures their opinions are put into the proper context and evaluated accordingly.

Relying on models of the human decision-making process, the program will then analyze the data. Results of the process have provided a novel method to discover experts in various fields.

The findings of the project have major ramifications. For various government departments looking to enhance the precision of intelligence analysis, these studies could shed help identify highly talented experts.

Thomas A. Parham Named New Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake announced the appointment of Thomas A. Parham ’77 as the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs on Friday, Sept. 22.

Prior to his current appointment, Parham served as Interim Vice Chancellor from September 2010 to the present.

Parham was also the director of the Career Center and the Counseling Center, an adjunct faculty member, and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Counseling and Health Services before assuming his positions in Student Affairs.

The new Vice Chancellor graduated from UC Irvine with a B.A. in Social Ecology. He also holds a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.