Friday Factoid: The Tryptophan In Your Turkey: What You Didn’t Know

Tryptophan found in turkey is believed to be the legendary reason why people always doze off for little naps on Thanksgiving Day.  In fact, “Tryptophan is an amino acid that can be found in several foods, which include dairy products, soy products, seafood, poultry and beans” (BeneFit from: Tryptophan, 2008) and there is even more tryptophan in cheese and chicken breast than there is in turkey, according to Elder (2009). To debunk the myth, Elder (2009) says, there is not enough tryptophan in your Thanksgiving turkey to tire you out. However, the tryptophan in your turkey is a precursor to calming, feel-good serotonin.



It seems tryptophan in our food is linked to serotonin, and melatonin. Thornton and Whitley (2012) confirmed the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin can be controlled by tryptophan ingestion (p. 40). Interestingly, Esteban, Nicolaus, Garmundi, Rial, Rodríguez, Ortega, EIbars, (2004) found differences in tryptophan  ingestion at  the beginning of light or dark phases in rats (p. 41). “The administration of  L-tryptophan during the light time  increased the brain synthesis and metabolism of serotonin. However, at night, tryptophan’s administration led to a smaller increase in the synthesis of serotonin than by day, although the turnover remained  unchanged,  suggesting that,  in the dark phase, serotonin is used as a substrate for melatonin synthesis” (Thornton & Whitley, 2012, p. 40).  Esteban et  al., (2004) results imply, “The  difference  between  the effects of increased tryptophan intake during light and dark phases suggests that  tryptophan  hydroxylase  activity  presents  circadian  fluctuations  which seem to be clock controlled” (p. 41).  So, it seems that the legend behind the Thanksgiving naps can in some ways be linked to tryptophan, and tied to our circadian rhythms.



Tryptophan due to its connection to serotonin has been somewhat studied with its role in depression. Parker and Brotchie, (2011) revealed, “There is limited evidence suggesting that depressed individuals, especially those with a melancholic depression, have decreased tryptophan levels. However, results showing a causal contribution or are a consequence of a depressed state remains an open question. Neither the less, the researchers support there is a small database claiming tryptophan preparations benefit people with depressed mood states.”


In conclusion, turkey has tryptophan but other food such as cheese and chicken breast have higher quantities of this amino acid. The amount of tryptophan you eat on Thanksgiving from turkey is not necessarily enough to make you tired, but it could have an impact on your circadian rhythm. The tryptophan you consume impacts your serotonin, and melatonin, which is likely to impact your mood. So therefore, Have A Great Increase of Serotonin on Your Thanksgiving!



P.S. According to The 10 Foods For A Good Night’s Sleep, “Tryptophan works when your stomach is basically empty, not overstuffed, full of protein and not carbohydrates.”







BeneFit from: Tryptophan. (2008). Cycling Weekly, 32.


Elder, N. (2009). The Question: Does Turkey Make You Sleepy?. Bon Appetit, 54(11), 47.


Esteban, S., Nicolaus, C., Garmundi, A., Rial, R.V., Rodríguez, A., Ortega, EIbars, C. B. (2004). Effect  of orally administered  L-tryptophan on  serotonin, melatonin and  the  innate  immune  response. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 267, 39-46.


Parker, G., & Brotchie, H. (2011). Mood effects of the amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine. Acta             Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 124(6), 417-426. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01706.x

The 10 Foods for a Good Night’s Sleep. (2007). Office Solutions, 24(2), 9.


Thornton, S. H., & Whitley, B. L. (2012). Tryptophan : Dietary Sources, Functions and Health Benefits. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.



Katy Roth, M.A., CRC

WKPIC Doctoral Intern

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Article Review: Ray, S. L., Wong, C., White, D., & Heaslip, K. (2013) Compassion Satisfaction, Compassion Fatigue, Work Life Conditions, and Burnout Among Frontline Mental Health Care Professionals

Professionals who work directly with individuals who have intensive mental health needs can sometimes find themselves affected by this work in ways they had not originally considered. Along with compassion satisfaction (CS) professionals may also experience burnout or compassion fatigue (CF). CS is the positive feeling that can come from helping others, while burnout and CF are the negative results of this work. They can be identified by feelings of tension or psychological stressors caused from working with others who have experienced trauma. Research has shown that both burnout and CF can lead to a decrease in CS, resulting in a greater use of sick time, higher staff turnover rates, and lower morale among professionals.


Research has also identified 6 areas of work life that can result in burnout if they do not match with the individual. These include the individual’s work load, the amount of control the individual has in making important decisions about their job, the rewards an individual receives for doing the work, the worker’s sense of community regarding relationships with supervisors and co-workers, fairness perceived through openness and respect present within the organization, and a congruence between an individual’s values and those of the organization.


The study conducted by Ray, Wong, White, and Heaslip hypothesized that higher levels of CS and increased person-job match would result in lower levels of burnout and CF. This was based on the idea that higher levels of CS would result in a more positive work environment or better match between person and areas of work life. Those who reported higher levels of CF would perceive their work environment as more negative and would have a lower match level between person and areas of work resulting in higher levels of burnout


The researchers surveyed 169 individuals providing “frontline care” to individuals with mental health needs. Respondents included nursing staff, social workers, psychologists, case managers, and mental health workers. Each participant was asked to complete the Compassion Satisfaction and Compassion Fatigue/Secondary Traumatic Stress subscales of the Professional Quality of Life – Revision IV Questionnaire, the Areas of Work Life Scale, the Maslach Burnout Inventory – General Survey, and a 16-question demographic questionnaire.


Their results supported the hypothesis that higher levels of CS, lower levels of CF, and higher person-job match in the six areas of work life were predictive of lower burnout in frontline staff providing mental health care. This study found similar results to other studies where it was reported that work life conditions can contribute to both CS, CF, and burnout. It is noted that those employees who reported a personal history of trauma may need to receive additional support or supervision to help combat CF and burnout. Along with trauma history, working more hours and having less work experience were also identified as potential risk factors for CF.


Ways to help prevent burnout and CF while also increasing CS include building stronger relationships among colleagues, promotion opportunities, and greater awareness of workers’ emotions. Environments with a low staff/patient ratio and emotional distance between staff and patients also lead to an increase in CS. Environments that can pair new staff with mentors or promote more relationship building between new and senior staff may also serve as protective factors against CF and burnout.


Ray, S. L., Wong, C., White, D., & Heaslip, K. (2013). Compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue, work life conditions, and burnout among frontline mental health care professionals. Traumatology, 19(4), 255-267. doi:10.1177/1534765612471144


Crystal Henson, MA
Doctoral Intern

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Friday Factoids Catch-Up: How Biological Processes Impact Sleep


There are many factors that contribute to sleep deprivation for example bathroom trips, sleep schedules, temperature, noise, and technological devices. However, there are biological processes that impact sleep as well. Specifically, there are three biological processes that are controlled through involvement of the brainstem, and two divisions of the hypothalamus, which are the anterior hypothalamus and the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN).


First, the brainstem plays a vital role in REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non- rapid eye movement). “The brainstem controls events of REM sleep” Pinel, 2010, pg. 364). REM occurs under the eyelids and was discovered in the 1950’s (Pinel, 2010, pg. 343). Reinoso-Suárez, de Andrés, Rodrigo-Angulo and Garzón (2001) found, “The ventral part of the oral pontine reticular nucleus (vRPO) is a demonstrated site of the brainstem REM sleep-wake cycle, as well as with other brain components responsible for the production of different occurrences related to REM sleep.” Non-REM sleep (NREM) is referred to as slow wave sleep (de Andrés, Garzón, & Reinoso-Suárez, 2011). NREM is vital for standard physical and intellectual functioning and behavior (de Andrés, Garzón, & Reinoso-Suárez, 2011). Further, Villablanca (2004) stated, “Waking can occur independently in both the forebrain and brainstem, but true NREM and REM sleep producing mechanisms exist entirely in the forebrain and brainstem.”


Secondly, the hypothalamus plays a key role in sleep. Specifically, the anterior hypothalamus and adjacent basal forebrain are thought to promote sleep (Pinel, 2010, pg. 355). The anterior hypothalamus is in the basal-forebrain area. “Activation and deactivation of certain cells in the hypothalamus shuts off the arousal system during sleep. Other hypothalamic neurons stabilize the activation and deactivation, however if the switching of cells/neurons is absent this results in inappropriate sleep occurrences, such as disorders like narcolepsy” (Saper, Scammell & Lu, 2005).


From literature the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) in the hypothalamus plays a role in sleep also. “The suprachiasmatic nuclei is situated bilaterally in the hypothalamus, just above the optic chiasm” (Hobson & Pace-Schott, 2002). The SCN is composed of two major subdivisions, the core and the shell. “The core region of the SCN obtains information about the daily light cycle through the retinohypothalamic tract (RHT)” (Takahashi, Hee-Kyung, Ko & McDearmon, 2008). “Neurons in the SCN core correspond with the rhythmic SCN shell. Cells in the rhythmic SCN shell comprise molecular clocks driven by an autoregulatory transcription translation loop” (Antle & Silver, 2005). The SCN controls circadian rhythms (also known as the circadian clock). Interestingly, “Circadian rhythms govern a variety of biological processes in living systems, stretching from bacteria to humans” (Takahashi, Hee-Kyung, Ko & McDearmon, 2008). The suprachiasmatic nucleus of the mammalian hypothalamus contains a circadian clock for timing of diverse neuronal, endocrine, and behavioral rhythms, such as the cycle of sleep and wakefulness (Sakai, 2014). The timing mechanisms of the SCN are dependent on the firing patterns of SCN neurons. During the night SCN neurons tend to be inactive, start to fire at dawn, and fire at a leisurely stable pace all day (Pinel, 2010, pg. 354). Importantly, it seems as though genetics also influences the SCN. Hobson and Pace-Schott (2002) stated, “The molecular circadian clock is genetically controlled and synchronously expressed holistically and individually by 20,000 cells in the mammalian hypothalamus.”



While it is important to be mindful of the many factors in the sleep environment that may impact how much sleep we get, and how rested we feel, there are also biological processes located in our brain, as well as genetics to some degree which impact sleep. It seems our brain has a major role in REM sleep, NREM sleep, and our natural Circadian rhythm as well.



Antle, M. C., & Silver, R. (2005). Orchestrating time: arrangements of the brain circadian clock. Trends in neurosciences, 28(3), 145-151.


de Andrés, I., Garzón, M., & Reinoso-Suárez, F. (2011). Functional anatomy of non-REM sleep. Frontiers in Neurology, 2, 70. doi:10.3389/fneur.2011.00070

Hobson, J. A., & Pace-Schott, E. F. (2002). The Neurobiology of Sleep: Genetics, cellular physiology and subcortical networks. Nature Reviews Neuroscience,      3, 591.


Pinel, John  P.J. (2010). Biopsychology, Ninth Edition.  Pearson Education, Inc.


Reinoso-Suárez, F., de Andrés, I., Rodrigo-Angulo, M. L., & Garzón, M. (2001). Brain structures and mechanisms involved in the generation of REM sleep. Sleep medicine reviews, 5, 63-77.


Sakai, K. (2014). Single unit activity of the suprachiasmatic nucleus and surrounding neurons during the wake–sleep cycle in mice. Neuroscience, 260, 249-264.


Saper, C. B., Scammell, T. E., & Lu, J. (2005). Hypothalamic regulation of sleep and circadian rhythms. Nature, 437, 1257-1263.


Takahashi, J. S., Hee-Kyung, H., Ko, C. H., & McDearmon, E. L. (2008). The genetics of mammalian circadian order and disorder: implications for physiology and disease. Nature Reviews Genetics, 9(10), 764-775. doi:10.1038/nrg2430


Villablanca, J. R. (2004). Counterpointing the functional role of the forebrain and of the brainstem in the control of the sleep–waking system. Journal Of Sleep Research, 13, 179-208. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2004.00412.x



Katy Roth, M.A., CRC

WKPIC Doctoral Intern


Posted in Blog, Continuing Education, Current Interns, Friday Factoids, Mental Health and Wellness, Resources for Interns | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Factoids Catch-Up: Factors That Impact Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 65 percent of Americans don’t get enough sleep regularly (Ott, 2003) and many factors contribute to sleep deprivation for example bathroom trips, sleep schedules, temperature, noise, and technological devices.


Rohles and Munson (1981) in their study examined EEG’s and skin temperature measurements from six men and six women while they slept in environments with temperatures of 10·0°C, 21·1°C, and 32·2°C. EEG recordings showed that the proportion of time in each sleep stage was not affected by the temperature of the sleep environment. However, after participants awoke and completed a questionnaire, women did not sleep as well at 10·0°C as at the other temperatures, when sleeping in conventional clothing and bedding.


Muzet (2007) found sleep disturbance is largely impacted by noise in the environment. “The input to the auditory area of the brain through the auditory pathways is prolonged by inputs reaching both the brain cortical area and the descending pathways of the autonomic functions. Therefore, the sleeping body still responds to stimuli coming from the environment, although the noise sensitivity of the sleeper depends on several factors (e.g. type of noise, noise frequency, one’s age, sex, personality characteristics and self-estimated sensitivity to noise).”


With the advancements of technology, Gradisar, Wolfson, Harvey, Hale, Rosenberg, and Czeisler, (2013), found in their sample, 95 percent of participants used some type of electronics at least a few nights a week within the hour before bed, like a television, computer, video game or cell phone. “Unfortunately cell phones and computers, which make our lives more productive and enjoyable, may also be abused to the point that they contribute to getting less sleep at night leaving millions of Americans functioning poorly the next day,” said, Russell Rosenberg, PhD, Vice Chairman of the National Sleep Foundation. Czeisle and Shanahan (2016) stated in a “Systematic review and meta-analysis by Carter and colleagues in this issue of JAMA Pediatrics found that the mere presence of a mobile device in the sleeping environment at bedtime, and certainly its use, increased the risk of inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and daytime sleepiness the next day in children 6 to 19 years old.” Gradisar, et al., (2013) found 13-18 year olds are the sleepiest of all age groups, then Generation Z’ers and generation Y’ers report more sleepiness than generation X’ers and Baby Boomers. Results revealed that Baby Boomers, due to the difference in technology use, have less sleep disturbance.


Sleep Advice
Gradisar, Wolfson, Harvey, Hale, Rosenberg, and Czeisler, (2013) stated, “If you are having problems sleeping, the National Sleep Foundation recommends the following to improve your sleep:

  • Create and stick to a sleep schedule. 
  •  Expose yourself to bright light in the morning and prevent it at night.
  •  Exercise frequently. 
  • Create a comforting bedtime routine. 
  •  Create a cool, comfortable, distraction and stress free sleep environment
  • Maintain a “worry book” next to your bed to write down your thoughts.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol, chocolate, large meals and tobacco at night and before bed.
  • Unless you work the night shift, No late-afternoon or evening naps.”


Czeisler, C. A., & Shanahan, T. L. (2016). Problems Associated With Use of Mobile Devices in the Sleep Environment–Streaming Instead of Dreaming. JAMA Pediatrics170(12), 1146-1147. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.2986


Gradisar, M., Wolfson, A. R., Harvey, A. G., Hale, L., Rosenberg, R., & Czeisler, C. A.   (2013). The Sleep and Technology Use of Americans: Findings from the National Sleep Foundation’s 2011 Sleep in America Poll. Journal Of Clinical   Sleep   Medicine9(12), 1291-1299. doi:10.5664/jcsm.3272


Muzet, A. (2007). Environmental noise, sleep and health. Sleep Medicine Reviews11(2), 135-142. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2006.09.001


Ott, C. (2003). Stay Young with a Good Night’s Sleep. Natural Health33(2), 68.


Rohles, F. H., & Munson, D. M. (1981). Sleep and the sleep environment temperature. Journal    Of Environmental Psychology1(3), 207-214. doi:10.1016/S0272-4944(81)80039-4


Katy Roth, M.A., CRC
WKPIC Doctoral Intern

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Friday Factoids: They Creep, They Crawl: Our Fear of Snakes and Spiders



With Halloween right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to talk about the things that go bump in the night, the things that send shivers down our spine, and the things that slither and crawl. Most people have a fear of snakes and spiders (Hoel, Hellmer, Johansson, & Gredebäck, 2017). Just the sight of one of these creepy critters can send people running, but is this fear learned or instinctual?


Many of our fears are learned, however, others are innate (Leahy, 2008). For example, eating bad fish can cause us to become ill, and we may learn to avoid similar fish (Leahy, 2008). This learned aversion is the result of one-trial learning. Yet, we have many fears that did not require trial learning. Most of us are born with a fear of heights, yet we don’t have to fall from a great height to know that heights scare us (Leahy, 2008). Instead, this fear is instinctual and useful in protecting us from potential harm.


In regards to snakes and spiders, prior research had difficulty determining if the fear was learned from parents and others in the environment or an instinctual fear (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences [MPIHCBS], 2017). Others had determined that most people, even those who lived in cities with no exposure to these creatures, had a deep fear of snakes and spiders, yet past research looked at adults and young children who might have learned this fear from parents or grandparents exposed to these tiny terrors (MPIHCBS, 2017). A new study took a different approach and showed infants pictures of flowers paired with spiders and fish paired with snakes (Hoehl et al., 2017). When examining the snakes and spiders, infants’ pupils demonstrated an increased dilation when compared to their neutral pairings, suggesting a sympathetic response to these frightening stimuli (Hoehl et al., 2017). These findings suggest that our fear of snakes and spiders, much like our fear of heights, is instinctual and meant to help us avoid potential threats (Hoehl et al., 2017).


Hoehl, S., Hellmer, K., Johansson, M., & Gredebäck, G. (2017). Itsy bitsy spider…: Infants react with increased arousal to spiders and snakes. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01710


Leahy, R.L. (2008). Are we born to be afraid? Psychology Today. Retrieved from


Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. (2017). Itsy bitsy spider: Fear of spiders and snakes is deeply embedded in us. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from


Michael Daniel, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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Friday Factoids: How Fathers See Their Babies


Emotions are “contagious”, especially for babies (American Psychological Association, 2017; Waters, West, Karnilowicz, & Mendes, 2017).  When mothers hold their babies, the mother’s affect is often “caught” by the baby.  This emotional transmission can be seen when mothers are in a high-anxiety situation, the baby exhibits a sympathetic response; however, in low-stress scenarios, the baby demonstrates a parasympathetic response (Waters et al., 2017).


Past research has shown that mothers and fathers frequently respond differently to boy and girl babies (APA, 2017; Mascaro, Rentscher, Hackett, Mehl, & Rilling, 2017).  Parents often talk more to girls yet restrict their behaviors, while boys are talked to less but allowed to engage in more risk-taking activities (e.g. climbing, “rough housing”).  New research has taken another step and examined the neural functioning of fathers when with their children (Mascaro et al., 2017).  When viewing pictures of their daughters smiling, fathers demonstrate a response in the orbitofrontal cortex, yet fathers experience the same response when viewing their sons exhibiting a neutral response (Mascaro et al., 2017).  These neural responses suggest fathers have differing expectations for their children.  Through the affect contagion scenario, it might be hypothesized that our babies are being primed early in how they express emotions.  Girls are likely learning that an affective response is positive, while boys may be learning that a restricted range of emotions is desirable.



American Psychological Association. (2017). Parent-child interactions.  Particularly Exciting Experiments in Psychology, 98. Retrieved from

Mascaro, J. S., Rentscher, K. E., Hackett, P. D., Mehl, M. R., & Rilling, J. K. (2017). Child gender influences paternal behavior, language, and brain function. Behavioral Neuroscience, 131(3), 262–273.

Waters, S. F., West, T. V., Karnilowicz, H. R., & Mendes, W. B. (2017). Affect contagion between mothers and infants: Examining valence and touch. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146(7), 1043–1051.


Michael Daniel, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern


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WKPIC Recognized by APA Division 18










Very, very proud of our sponsoring agencies (Western State Hospital, Pennyroyal Center), our supervisors, and our interns, current and previous!



Susan R. Redmond-Vaught, Ph.D.
Director, WKPIC



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Surviving MATCH: Interview Tips from A Current Intern

As a current intern at the Western Kentucky Psychology Internship Consortium, I know first hand that the internship time of year can bring a plethora of emotions; for example, excitement, sadness, anxiety, and worry. That being said I am here to share several tips with you while on this journey.


Tip 1:


The only content the internship site has access to about you, is on the file you send. Sell yourself and your experiences to make the site want to meet you in person. GET OFFERED THAT INTERVIEW!


Tip 2:


When writing cover letters and other documents specifically for the site, DO NOT MAKE A GENERIC TEMPLATE. I am going to be completely honest. I spent about 3 hours on each cover letter. I looked at the site, viewed specific rotations/experiences they offered (wrote about 2-3) that I already possessed demonstrating why I would be a good fit, and then included (1-2) experiences the site offered I had limited experience with, but wanted to gain more.


Tip 3:


Think about the cost. You have too! When considering applying to sites, see how much they are paying students. Do you really want to take out loans the last year of your program?  Do you want to limit possible experiences while on internship? Also, consider the cost for interviewing at the site. It’s important! Some save part of their student loans. On the other hand, I worked the night shift to cover my expenses.


For example, if you are interested in a site in California, but they are paying $30,000-$40,000. Is that really enough? If you are living in a rural area in Northern California possibly, but not Los Angeles or San Francisco. If you could pay for your basic living expenses, how much does that leave for entertainment/shopping? You really have to consider this, as well as how much is it going to cost to travel to your sites. Say for example, you got one interview at a site in Los Angeles that was going to pay $40,000 but you had 5 interviews within driving distance. Are you willing to spend $500 on a plane ticket, $50 on a car rental, $175 on a hotel, etc. for one interview? Some would, some wouldn’t. It’s an important aspect to consider.


Tip 4:




As you start to hear from sites, get a calendar and fill in the dates the site has interviews. You may hear from two sites (site A and site B) with overlapping days, but site A may only have one interview day, where site B has two. Obviously, if you want to interview at site A you only have one interview day to choose from and have to select the other day for site B. In a different color pen/marker after you solidify your interview day mark it in your calendar. I would at least include the site name, the address, and the length of time for your interview.


Interview dates you first marked are for knowing and organizing when the sites are conducting interviews, as well as to help organize and plan to travel. The second marking in your calendar are your confirmed interview days. I placed a huge pink border around these days.  An example to consider is, possibly you are from Oregon and  interviewing in Oklahoma and have an interview the next day in Arkansas. If you plan accordingly you can go right to Arkansas instead of going back to Oregon. IF YOU DON’T ORGANIZE YOUR INTERVIEWS YOU COULD MISS THE ABILITY TO SEE INTERVIEWS ARE CLOSE TOGETHER, therefore saving time and money.


Important to note, if you are in a state that is close to another interview site, it’s okay to ask if you can interview ahead of time. Some sites are flexible and accommodating. IF YOU DON’T ASK ITS AN AUTOMATIC NO.


Tip 5:


Always have a protein bar and water. Sometimes you may not have the ability to eat a meal or stop and grab something. These two items are small to put in luggage or a bag and come in  handy.


Tip 6:




Do not be nervous! I was at first until I told myself (with confidence), the site already likes me, they wouldn’t have wanted to interview me if they didn’t. They want to meet me. NOW IT IS MY TURN TO SEE IF I LIKE THEM.


Tip 7:


When interviewing make sure you are able to distinguish yourself. What makes you different from everyone else who applied and interviewed? I was surprisingly asked this question from half of the sites I interviewed at. It honestly makes sense. What makes me stand out from everyone else? What would I bring to the internship, that another student wouldn’t? Everyone who gets offered an interview is clearly qualified on paper, that’s why the site wanted to interview us. WHAT MAKES ME DIFFERENT AND AN ASSET TO THEM? This component helped ease my anxiety.







Tip 8:


When interviewing come with three questions related to the site, NOT ON THE WEBSITE OR BROCHURES. Having unique questions makes you stand out and the interviewers remember you.


Tip 9:




Take in as much information as you can while on the interview. Notice the work environment, how do others interact? Do you think the internship site is genuinely friendly and engaged, or is it just because it’s interview day? What are the accommodations like? Do they offer a cafeteria with low cost meals to employees? Do the bathrooms have working sinks and toilets? What are the resources for interns? Do interns have their own office space, their own computer, a printer? The unspoken information you can obtain from a site while interviewing is in my opinion, even more important than what words can say.


Tip 10:


After interviewing, write down everything, the positives and negatives. IF YOU DON’T YOU WILL FORGET IT. When ranking consider what you wrote down about the sites immediately after you were there. After submitting your rankings, double check they are correctly in the order you like, but not too many times (this causes anxiety).


Tip 11:




Recognize your support system and take time to breathe. This time, as I mentioned, comes with a wide range of emotions and stress. Whenever possible take sometime out to relax in-between interviews. I didn’t, but I wish I had because after all my interviews were over, I felt like I was in overdrive. Remember this process in total is temporary. You will get through it! Just take it step by step, enjoy the moments when you can breathe, and don’t be afraid to reach out to your support system.


Katy Roth, M.A., CRC
WKPIC Doctoral Intern


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Friday Factoids: Your Brain on Glycine



Until recently, research has suggested early psychosis has its roots in poor glycine production (Elsevier, 2017).  This hypothesis was due, in part, to evidence that psychosis was caused by impaired NMDA receptors, glutamate-gated channels responsible for numerous biological functions as well as leaning, memory, and neuroplasticity (Blake and VanDongen, 2009; Elsevier, 2017).  It was believed that supplying patients with additional glycine would alleviate symptoms of early psychosis; however, drugs targeting NMDA receptors have demonstrated limited success in the past (Blanke and VanDongen, 2009; Elsevier, 2017).


New research from Kim et al. (2017) suggests that first-episode psychosis is not linked to a deficit of glycine but a surplus.  While this finding does not discredit the NMDA receptor hypofunction hypothesis, it does create new questions.  Future research will need to examine if accumulation of glycine is due to reduced glycine use or overproduction of the amino acid (Kim et al., 2017).  Regardless, the new finding helps spread light on why glycine treatment has demonstrated limited effectiveness in the past, and may warrant new avenues of treatment for first-episode psychotic symptoms.


Blanke, M.L. & VanDongen, A.M. (2009). Activation mechanisms of the NMDA receptor. In A.M. VanDongen (Ed.), Biology of the NMDA Receptor. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.


Elsevier. (2017). Brain chemical abnormalities in earliest stage of psychosis identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 12, 2017 from


Kim, S., Kaufman, M., Cohen, B.M., Jensen, J.E., Coyle, J.T., Du, F., & Öngür, D. (2017). In vivo brain glycine and glutamate concentrations in patients with first-episode psychosis measured by echo-time-averaged proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy at 4T. Biological Psychiatry. doi:


Michael Daniel, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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Friday Factoids: Good Foods, Good Feels

You’ve had a bad day.  Nothing has gone right and you just want to get home to a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  We’ve all been there, when our only solace is a heaping helping of junk food.  Nothing soothes our woes like our favorite tasty treat, or does it?  New research says you should probably set the Chunky Monkey down and look to an alternative snack.


In fact, a healthier diet may be the first step to a better outlook (Clay, 2017; Sanchez-Villegas & Martinez-González, 2013).  Studies have shown that depression can be directly linked to pro-inflammatory cytokines, which inhibit the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) through inflammation of endothelial cells (the cells responsible for BDNF production) (Sanchez-Villegas & Martinez-González, 2013).  BDNF is a neurotrophin responsible for preventing neuronal cell death, so diminished production can lead to significant cognitive difficulties, including depression (McKusick & Tiller, 1990/2017).  Long story short, inflammation likely leads to poor mental health.


How do we stop this inflammation?  To answer that question, let’s take a look at fats.  There are two key fats that we need to examine:  trans fatty acids and lipids with anti-inflammatory properties (like omega-3 fatty acids) (Clay, 2017; Sanchez-Villegas & Martinez-González, 2013).  Trans fatty acids are typically found in our junk food:  burgers, chips, and ice cream; yet, healthy lipids are the fats found in fish and olive oil.  Trans fatty fats may be responsible for responsible for increased inflammation of the endothelial cells, while healthy lipids have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the inflammation.  Through healthy lipids, inflammation can be reduced leading to increased production of BDNF and better cell regeneration (McKusick & Tiller, 1990/2017; Sanchez-Villegas & Martinez-González, 2013).


As exciting as this news is, it should be taken with a grain of salt (yeah, we got food puns).  The connection between fats and depression is still relatively new and requires additional research.  Though, if you have the Monday blues, you might consider substituting your afternoon bowl of ice cream for some hummus (rich in olive oil) and your favorite vegetable.


Clay, R.A. 2017. The Link between food and mental health. Monitor on Psychology, 48(8).


Sanchez-Villegas, A. and Martinez-González, M.A. 2013. Diet, a new target to prevent depression? BMC Medicine, 11(3).


McKusick, M.A. & Tiller, G.E. 1990/2017. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; BDNF. OMIM.


Michael Daniel, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern


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