Award-Winning CSUN Psychology Professor and Film Director Luciana Lagana Shares the Main Achievements of her Research Laboratory Accomplished in the Year 2018.

Monday, December 31, 2018 Research News
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With her research team, CSUN Psychology Professor and film director, writer, and producer Luciana Lagana published two peer-reviewed articles and won several film awards in the year 2018.

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 31, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- 2018 has been a busy and productive year in CSUN Professor Luciana

Lagana's research laboratory.

Her research team received the fourth year of support in the form of a federal grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to study pain among African-American, European-American, and Latina older women.

Several research posters were presented at national conferences, and two peer-reviewed articles were published by her team.

An educational documentary feature film on homelessness that she wrote, directed, and produced is currently being tested in randomized controlled trials for its potential anti-bias effects on viewers.

Moreover, in 2018 alone, Dr. Lagana won several awards for this research documentary at many film festivals, including the Best Political Statement Award at Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival, the Phoenix Body of Work Film Award at the Action on Film International Film Festival, and the Best Director Award in the Documentary Category at the 2018 Shawna Shea Film Festival.

One of the two articles was published in the very prestigious journal of the American Psychological Association (APA) "Psychological Assessment." Dr. Lagana's former graduate student, David Alpizar, is the first author, she is the second author, and the other authors are CSUN Prof. Scott W. Plunkett and Washington State University Prof. Brian F. French (the current mentor of Alpizar).

Title: Evaluating the eight-item Patient Health Questionnaire's psychometric properties with Mexican and Central American descent university students.

Abstract: Depression can be a serious aliment influencing the lives of millions of persons. Person's health conditions worsen and daily functioning declines in the presence of depression. However, little attention has been given to how depression is accurately assessed in diverse populations from other countries residing in the United States. Thus, this study examined the factor structure, factorial invariance, concurrent validity, and convergent validity of the widely used 8-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8) among emerging adults of Mexican and Central American (e.g., Salvadorians, Guatemalans) men and women residing in the United States. Undergraduate student participants (n = 2,782) completed an online or paper-and-pencil version of the assessment. Support was found for two-factor and one-factor solutions; however, the unidimensional structure was recommended due to the very high correlation between the two factors (r ? .87). The unidimensional scale was invariant between (a) Mexican and Central American descent and (b) men and women. Depressive symptoms (as measured in the PHQ-8) were significantly correlated with another valid and reliable measured of depression, and scores on the PHQ-8 were significantly correlated with theoretically related variables (i.e., quality of life, parental support, and perceived stress).

This article is available at

David Alpizar obtained his B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in General Experimental Psychology at CSUN, where he was funded by NIH RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) and MARC (Maximizing Access to Research Careers) Programs. He is currently a doctoral student at Washington State University.

Dr. Lagana is the first author of her lab's second article published in 2018 with three of her mentees: (in authorship order) Dr. Giovanni Sosa, Marina Z. Nakhla, and Dillion Toscano. It was published in the "International Journal of Family & Community Medicine."

Title: Cognitive gains from video game use in older age: A review of the literature corroborating them.

Abstract: This article contains succinct summaries of the published literature regarding strategies that could lead to improved cognitive functioning among older individuals, mechanisms explaining the positive psychological effects of video game use in older age, and psychological factors related to using video games in older age. Factors contributing to the positive impact of video game usage on older adults are discussed, followed by an explanation of how skills acquisition among older adults during video game training appears to transfer to non-practiced tasks, as this could create several advantages in their lives. Due to space limitations, this review does not cover all published literature in this area. Instead, we have focused mainly on the available evidence in support of video game use among older adults. A plethora of research indicates that benefits derived from a singular video game may generalize to a full genre of games. As technology continues to advance, researchers must explore new methods to improve cognitive functioning. Given the high incidence of cognitive impairment among older adults, the need for future research in this area is emphasized.

This article is available at

All three co-authors have studied in Dr. Lagana's research laboratory. Dr. Giovanni Sosa is a Senior Research Analyst at the Institutional Research Office of Chaffey College. When studying in Dr. Lagana's lab, he was funded by the NIH grant CSUN Bridges to the Doctorate. Marina Z. Nakhla is a former NIH RISE and Sally Casanova (CSU Pre-Doctoral Program) scholar. She graduated from CSUN in May 2018 with her M.A. in Clinical Psychology. This past fall, she started the University of California San Diego – San Diego State University (UCSD-SDSU) Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in neuropsychology. Dillion Toscano is a current undergraduate research assistant of Dr. Lagana and is funded through the NIH BUILD PODER program.

"It is a great pleasure to present research posters and to publish peer-reviewed articles with very supportive colleagues and with ambitious and talented students," concluded Dr. Lagana.

Dr. Luciana Lagana is a caring clinical and experimental psychologist. She is also an established professor of psychology, gerontology, sexuality, and women's health at CSUN, where she teaches classes and mentors many undergraduate and graduate students from several departments. Additionally, she conducts government-funded research on ethnically diverse, mainly low-income older women's physical, psychological, social, and sexual health. Concerning her artistic pursuits, since 2006 she has been studying acting and hosting in Los Angeles (in her teens, she was part of a touring theatrical company in Italy). Moreover, after studying film production under the mentorship of Prof. Nate Thomas, Director of the Film Production Option in the CSUN Department of Cinema and Television Arts, she has been producing several social impact films and series. She is an actor/screenwriter/director/producer with over 30 film festivals' wins listed on IMDb and more than 50 IMDb film, TV, and web series' credits. For instance, she created, hosted, and directed the award-winning educational project Dr. Luciana Show – Aging and Falling. She also won Best Director – Documentary at the 2018 Shawna Shea Film Festival. At CSUN, Prof. Lagana won the 2017 CSUN Exceptional Creative Accomplishments Faculty Award for her anti-bias feature films and shows, as well as the 2011 Preeminent Scholarly Publications Faculty Award and the 2008 Visionary Community Service Learning Faculty Award.


SOURCE Dr. Luciana Lagana

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