Research Symposium

23rd annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, April 6, 2023

Nixon Adea-Swanston He/Him Poster Session 1: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm/ Poster #394



My name is Nixon Adea-Swanston. I’m a first-year undergrad and I’m from Port St. Lucie, Florida. I’m currently pre-engineering and I’m also pre-health. My goal is to attain a PHD after undergrad in hopes to work in health research.

Internal state-dependent social interaction, emotional reactivity, and oxytocin​

Authors: Nixon Adea-Swanston, James Brown
Student Major: Pre-Engineering
Mentor: James Brown
Mentor's Department: Neuroscience
Mentor's College: College of Arts and Sciences


Alexithymia is a personality characteristic related to malfunction in describing feelings and emotions. A variety of neuropsychiatric illnesses have increasingly been diagnosed with alexithymia. The hypothalamic hormone oxytocin regulates pro-social behaviors and internal homeostasis. Our lab investigated the relationship between alexithymia and oxytocin concentrations in plasma. We hypothesized that high alexithymia would be related smaller baseline levels of plasma oxytocin. Furthermore, we predicted that plasma oxytocin before and after social exclusion would have a smaller difference score in high alexithymia individuals. We prescreened college participants for both high and low on alexithymia using the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). The participants were tasked with playing Cyberball, a computer-based ball tossing task that experimentally induces social exclusion. Blood plasma was collected before and after Cyberball and processed with an enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA). Participants also completed the Lexical Decision-Making Task to measure reactivity to emotional stimuli. Additionally, participants completed the Triarchic Psychopathy Measure to measure meanness (callous-unemotional trait). We hypothesized that high alexithymia individuals would have an increased reaction time to emotional words and a positive relationship with meanness. This research is ongoing and results are forthcoming.

Nixon UROP-2.jpg

Keywords: Behavior, Personality, Emotion