Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

Faculty Sponsor

Eric Peterson

Second Faculty Sponsor

Marilyn Welsh


We explored the degree to which a history of child maltreatment impacts performance in college settings. In recent studies, researchers have explored “hot” versus “cool” executive functioning (EF). Cool EF is comprised of cognitive processes in non-emotional settings and are known to play an important role in educational achievement. Hot EF is comprised of cognitive processes supported by emotional awareness. Given that child maltreatment is associated with emotional arousal difficulty, we explored the degree to which hot and cold EF tasks are differentially impacted by a history of child maltreatment. Our research approach involved modifying two traditional cool EF tasks (Tower of London and Go/No Go) in order to compare an individual’s performance in both the cool and heated version of the task. An important aspect of our study involved comparing the relative impact of a “social heating” (i.e., emotion faces) versus a “nonsocial heating” (monetary reward). We believed individuals with a maltreatment history would show relatively more difficulty with social heating. The data suggested that there were some sensible correlations between the subscales of a trauma questionnaire and other EF measures. Overall, we were unable to find clear group effects suggesting that a larger sample size would be beneficial.

UNCO Undergraduate Verification


Included in

Psychology Commons