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MiddLab

Behavior

A MiddLab Project

The Price Revolution

The origins of a general trend in Europe of rising prices between 1520 and 1640, labeled the Price Revolution, have been deeply contested by economic historians since the 1920s. The debate is divided between two major camps, stressing the importance of monetary and ‘real’ factors respectively. My paper provides a general overview of the literature since the 1920s. I identify the influence of parallel developments in economic thought on the debate. Further, using the same qualitative primary sources employed by previous works on the topic I construct a novel explanation for these rising prices, avoiding constraints presented by flawed/restricted data.

People

Anil Menon

Professor Paul Monod

 

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A MiddLab Project

Prestige

Coffee, Heptathlon, Thesis

Julia Sisson, Studio Art Senior Work 2012

 

Prestige: Coffee, heptathlon, thesis

I see prestige as a velvet-lined room filled with cigar smoke and old white men.  A concept embedded within nostalgia, something that my predecessors have pursued and achieved through good, hard, and honest work.  It is a type of honor gained through completing actions in the most pure or difficult ways possible.  This conceptualization has managed to saturate and motivate too many of my decision-making processes. I have sought it out in order to assert myself as a member of society—something that I feel I lack as a woman, artist, introvert, Midwesterner, or student within a rigorous academic institution.  However, in looking to ascend my own ladder of achievement, I end up simultaneously pushing myself down.  Seemingly absurd and useless knitted objects in my work serve to expose the absurdity of my own decision-making, but also question why we code and value certain objects different than others.

 

Special thanks to Professor Sanford Mirling, Rebecca Gooch, the Studio Art department, friends and and family for all their help and support in completing this project.

 

 

 

Heptathlon (2012)

Sod, mixed media, yarn

 

Thesis

Desk, mixed media, yarn

Coffee (2012)

Kitchen, mixed media, yarn

Other Works

Nap.pal (2011)

Wood, recycled foam, mixed media

          

 

Ndánk, ndánk mooy japp golo ci ñdaay (Slowly, slowly one catches the monkey in the forest–Wolof Proverb) (2012)

Teapot, quilt, steel, mixed media

           

Musical Accompaniment for _Ndánk ndánk…_

 

 

Recent evidence shows that a combination of studying and testing can enhance a memory more than strictly studying over that same amount of time, as measured by a test afterward. This is a phenomenon known as the testing effect. Most testing effect studies have focused on testing to improve rote memorization. The present study investigated whether the testing effect aids the application — or transfer — of learning to new situations. In this study, 64 participants learned to solve analogical word problems that required the application of mathematical probability principles. In the first phase of the experiment, half of the participants studied some word problems and their solutions repeatedly while the other half of the participants both studied and solved those word problems. A day later, all participants were tested on new probability word problems. These new problems were designed to assess whether participants were able to apply the probability principles that they learned to new problems. Results suggested that preliminary testing did not improve participants’ ability to solve new problems on the final test, and that all participants were most accurate on new problems that were most similar to old problems.

People

Cloe Shasha
Researcher

Jason Arndt
Sponsor, Associate Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience Program Director

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A MiddLab Project

Creating a National Ideal: How Baseball Drove Bushido in 20th Century Japan

Learn more about History and Japanese at Middlebury College

Baseball is certainly Japan’s most popular sport, in part because players there are said to embody bushido, an ancient set of values said to have described samurai gentlemen of old. However, bushido is far from timeless and unchanging. Instead, it is a dynamic term that has changed, especially in the 20th Century, as Japanese society has struggled to maintain its unique identity despite the homogenizing pressures of globalization. I argue that baseball players bring about this change by setting examples for the rest of society, and that as the behavior of players has evolved, the popular perception of bushido and the way Japanese citizens idealize their own history has evolved right with them.

People

Adam Lee
Researcher

Neil Waters
Sponsor & Kawashima Professor of Japanese Studies

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This project examines the continued success of The Jerry Springer Show. Does the show promote the inclusion of the “other” in the American social order or is it a profit-seeking mechanism that proves only to further uphold a hierarchal American social structure in which some are excluded? By viewing scholarly articles on the talk show format, footage from The Jerry Springer Show, and other critical works in American Studies, I set out to prove that The Jerry Springer Show uses coded mechanisms to create the illusion of a democratic forum which promotes oppositional culture and challenges social norms. This, in turn creates a “participatory illusion” that veils the underlying profit-based motivations of the show. The goal is engaged viewers that question the motives of a seemingly un-refined format, “cheap amusements.” What is the show telling us about American society, and how is its shaping of perspective relevant to how we function as a society?

People

Carl Culicchia
Researcher

Michael Newbury
Sponsor & Professor of American Studies and English and American Literatures

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One of the most fundamental aspects of cognitive function is the ability to filter and extract, through focused attention, useful information from the vast array of incoming stimuli at any given moment. Impairments in selective attention performance are associated with disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. To further investigate the role of orexins in selective attention, male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained on a selective attention task paradigm designed to measure their ability to focus on external stimuli and perform appropriate response actions. Based on the available literature we expect orexin to cause a dose-dependent impairment on performance of the selective attention task.

People

Evans Love
Researcher

Mark Stefani
Assistant Professor of Psychology

An overhead view of the operant chamber setup. On one wall (to the rear of the subjects as pictured) was a food dispenser and food trough. On the opposing wall were three identical cue holes with embedded white lights. The food trough and the cue holes contained an infrared beam that shone across the opening to detect nose pokes by the subjects.

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A MiddLab Project

The Effectiveness of Charity Auction Mechanisms

Learn more about Economics at Middlebury College.

Nonprofit organizations depend on charitable donations to provide cash revenue. Charities frequently employ auctions and raffles to grow revenue and transform “in kind” donations into cash. Despite this, neither the theory nor the practice of efficient fundraising – and, in particular, charity auctions – has received sufficient attention from economists. In the previous stage of our research, we studied the revenue potential of fifteen different charity auction mechanisms in the experimental lab. While some mechanisms had already received attention from theorists and empiricists, we also explored the potential of new formats, such as the “bucket” and “hybrid” auctions. We are now testing the most lucrative mechanisms from the lab in the field at national non-profit conventions to identify the fundraising mechanisms that generate the most revenue for charitable organizations.

People

Max Benjamin
Michael DeLucia
Maria Perille
Researchers

Jeff Carpenter
Associate Professor of Economics

Jessica Holmes
Associate Professor of Economics

Peter Matthews
James B. Jermain Professor of Political Economy

Average Revenue (in $) of Auction Mechanisms
(click to view full chart)

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A MiddLab Project

Restorative Justice at Middlebury College

Learn more about Philosophy, Biology, Sociology & Anthropology and Justice at Middlebury College.

According to Howard Zehr (2002), “Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.” We propose various methods of incorporating restorative practices into the Middlebury College judicial system.

People

Ben Manger ’11, Philosophy
Dana Callahan ’13, Biology
Matthew George ’12.5, Biology
Clayton Paschke ’13, Sociology
Researchers

Jon Kidde
Sponsor, Sociology & Anthropology

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A MiddLab Project

The effects of prolonged exposure to prolactin upon adult neurogenesis

Learn more about Biology at Middlebury College.

For his thesis research, Tyler Prince (’11) is continuing our research with prolactin to examine the effects of prolonged exposure to prolactin upon adult neurogenesis. This summer, he conducted histological staining for newly proliferated cells in the hippocampus (See pictures).

The hippocampus is an area of the brain that plays a critical role in the processing of spatial and temporal memories and is involved in working memory more generally. Therefore, the growth of new nerve cells is of particular interest in this brain region, and our research has implications for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and chronic depression.

People

Tyler Prince
Researcher

Mark Spritzer
Assistant Professor of Biology

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Full Project Description [DOC]

Spritzer et al Figure 2

Evidence that an acute low dose of the hormone prolactin caused an increase
in cell proliferation within the hippocampus region of the brain


A MiddLab Project

Oath-Sworn: The Concept of Oath-taking in Northwestern Medieval Europe

Learn more about History and Undergraduate Research at Middlebury College.

Oaths play an important role in our modern society from swearing-in procedures to Middlebury’s own Honor Code. A thousand years ago, oaths had a much larger role in early medieval society. Oaths were used to create artificial bonds between people. These bonds were the glue that kept the often violent early medieval society from falling apart. My study focuses on the social history of the oaths in northwestern Viking Age Europe through a close examination of Norse Sagas and French and English epics.

People

Christopher Rogers
Researcher

Louisa Burnham
Associate Professor of History & Advisor

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The use of perspective taking, loosely defined as checking in with another person’s point of view, inhibits aggressive responding. The present study investigates two specific perspective-taking methods: Imagine-Other, which involves imagining how another person feels by trying to understand the situation from his/her point of view, and Imagine-Self, which involves coming to know the other’s perspective by imagining oneself in the other person’s situation.

People

Aviva Bannerman
Researcher

Suzanne Gurland
Assistant Professor of Psychology & Advisor

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