UCR Magazine The Magazine of UC Riverside

Spring 2015

Past Issues

Helping Our Vets Through Research

UCR doesn't just support student veterans academically; our faculty also seek to improve their lives through scientific research

Bethanie Le

Helping Veterans Combat Hearing Loss

Alison Smith, a disabled veteran and UCR graduate student, is part of a research team that is developing a brain-training game to help veterans suffering combat-related hearing loss.

Alison Smith, a disabled veteran and UCR graduate student, is part of a research team that is developing a brain-training game to help veterans suffering combat-related hearing loss.

Many combat veterans suffer from hearing loss from blast waves that makes it difficult to understand speech in noisy environments. This condition, called auditory dysfunction, may lead to isolation and depression. There is no known treatment.

Building on UCR brain-training research related to improving vision, UCR researchers including Aaron Seitz, professor of neuropsychology, and Victor Zordan, associate professor of computer science, alongside the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research, are developing a video game Wisp. The game hopes to train the auditory cortex to better process complex sounds and to ultimately treat auditory dysfunction. Read more about the video game for veterans with hearing loss.

Fighting PTSD-related Insomnia

Sleep researchers from UCR and UCSD found that zolpidem (Ambien), a popular prescription sleep aid, heightens the recollection of and response to negative memories. The research was funded by a National Institutes of Health career award to Sara C. Mednick, assistant professor of psychology at UCR.

The findings have implications for individuals suffering from insomnia related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders who are prescribed zolpidem to help them sleep. Read more about sleep and emotional memory.

Creating a ‘Window to the Brain’

Members of the research team (from left): Javier Garay, Yasuhiro Kodera, Carissa L. Reynolds, Yasaman Damestani, Guillermo Aguilar, Masaru P. Rao and B. Hyle Park.

Members of the research team (from left): Javier Garay, Yasuhiro Kodera, Carissa L. Reynolds, Yasaman Damestani, Guillermo Aguilar, Masaru P. Rao and B. Hyle Park.

A team of UCR researchers including Guillermo Aguilar, a professor of mechanical engineering and Devin Binder, an associate professor of biomedical sciences, have developed a novel transparent skull implant that literally provides a “window to the brain.” The researchers hope this will eventually open new treatment options for patients with life-threatening neurological disorders, such as traumatic brain injury, commonly called  the signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Read more about the ‘Window to the Brain.’

New Target for Alzheimer’s Drugs

Iryna Ethell's research ould open new doors for the therapeutic treatment of neurological disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s disease — a form of dementia commonly diagnosed among veterans.  Photo by L. Duka

Iryna Ethell’s research ould open new doors for the therapeutic treatment of neurological disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s disease — a form of dementia commonly diagnosed among veterans. Photo by L. Duka

Iryna M. Ethell, an associate professor of biomedical sciences, leads a team that has identified a link between a protein called beta-arrestin and short-term memory. It could open new doors for the therapeutic treatment of neurological disorders, particularly Alzheimer’s disease — a form of dementia commonly diagnosed among veterans. UCR’s discovery is the first time that researchers anywhere have linked beta-arrestin to Alzheimer’s and learning/memory. Read more about Iryna Ethell’s work.

Operation Education

Operation Education at UCR is a support program for U.S. military veterans who have been disabled while serving our nation since Sept. 11, 2001.

Based on a successful program created by Karen White at the University of Idaho in 2006, Operation Education provides veterans with the means to pursue a college degree and start the next phase of their lives. Read more about Operation Education.