Psychologist to Probe Mysteries, Beauty of Sleep

Merrimack's Institutional Review Board has approved research experiments to study the effects of concussions on sleep, emotional reactivity to behavioral tasks and brain activity that are to be conducted in a new sleep lab.

The experiments will be run by Assistant Professor of Pyschology Lauri Kurdziel in the Learning, Memory and Sleep Lab in the new psychology research suite in O’Reilly Hall.

Sleep affects cognitive ability, physical ability, emotions, health and stress. Every major disease or disorder has some associated sleep problems, Kurdziel said.

Almost every animal ever studied has some form of sleep behavior; however, scientists are still attempting to understand the functions of sleep and even why we need sleep. Kurdziel is studying preschoolers, to learn why they need to nap, and college-age students, to learn how napping affects emotions and memory.

“Sleep is very important, and we don’t really know why it’s important,” Kurdziel said. “It’s this mysterious and beautiful area of people’s lives, and we don’t really understand much about it.”

The sleep lab resembles a comfortable bedroom with a trundle bed, chair and desk, plus a white-noise machine. A Provost Innovation Fund grant paid for an electroencephalography machine to measure brainwaves of volunteer subjects, both while asleep and when awake and actively working on a research task.

Kurdziel’s research assistants include Rachael Spinney ’18, a human development major from Rockland, Massachusetts, and psychology majors Gabriel Jewula ’18 of Buffalo, New York, Ashlee Cormier ’18 of Methuen, Massachusetts and Emily Maier ’18 of Mesa, Arizona.


Related News

Merrimack students standing in from of #NAMM sign

Merrimack Students Win Scholarships to Attend Nation’s Largest Music Trade Show

By: Michael Cronin
Andrew Cote, assistant professor of practice and assistant director of bands, also presented at this year’s National Association of Music Merchants Show in Anaheim, CA.
Headshots of Revs. Njuakom Romaric and Terence Ayuk.

Cameroonian Priests to Continue Faith Education at Merrimack College

By: Michael Cronin
The Revs. Terence Ayuk and Njuakom Romaric this fall will enroll in Merrimack’s Spiritual Direction graduate certificate program.
Photo of Andrew Cote teaching.

Merrimack Music Program Director named quarterfinalist for Grammys’ 2024 Music Educator Award

By: Michael Cronin
Under Andrew Cote’s leadership, more student musicians are enrolled at Merrimack than ever before.