Research at Hendrix

Jennifer J. Peszka

Julia Mobley Odyssey Associate Professor of Psychology

Ph.D., University of Southern Mississippi

Research interest: Sleep and sleepiness, cognitive processing during sleep onset

I have a number of lines of research all revolving around sleep and sleepiness. Some of the projects students have worked on with me recently include looking at the relationship of sleepiness to hunger, burnout (severe stress responses), social cognitions (such as blaming others when things go badly), moral decisions, academic performance, and mating choices. In my main line of research, my research students and I are looking at cognitive processing during sleep onset. The ability to process and respond to information in the external environment doesn't end when we go to sleep. We know this anecdotally because we don't fall out of our beds at night, our alarms wake us and mothers wake to their babies'
 cry. What does happen is that our ability to attend and respond to environmental stimuli changes as we get sleepy. Exactly how this changes and what we're still capable of doing when we are sleepy is not well understood. We investigate these changes in cognitive processing by looking at electrical brain activity in response to stimuli as people fall asleep that may help us better understand the effect that drowsiness has on behavioral and cognitive performance.