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Courtney Barr

Class of 2021

Project Title: Reducing Neural Bias

Research Report

This summer, I have been conducting research in the Neuroscience Department. The basis of the research is on the premise that individuals attend less to information regarding those that may be of a different race than them, or a member of a racial outgroup compared to those that are of the same race, or a member of a racial ingroup. This most often shows up in implicit processes, meaning that individuals are going about this in an unconscious manner. In addition, this can be extending to specific empathetic responses that one may have regarding a racial ingroup or a racial outgroup.

 The overall purpose of this study is to determine whether close relationships or extended relationships with someone of an outgroup will allow participants to have more empathy to an outgroup member, as measured by brain responses (EEG) to images of individuals of different races that will have a pained expression. Participants will read a story from one of two conditions and then answer questions about the story as well as about different information pertaining to their associations and interactions with ingroup and outgroup members to determine if knowing more people from either racial group may impact their empathetic responses.

Participants will then take part in a categorization task in which they view faces of racial ingroup and outgroup faces in pain or with neutral facial expressions, with their task being to identify the race of the face with a button press on the keyboard. During this task, participants’ EEG will be recorded. Through this, we will be able to use an array of data in order to determine if there are in fact implicit biases that are present.