The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Connecticut in Waterbury has announced that a University research lecture will be held on Tuesday, April 10  from 12:45  – 2:00 PM in room #333 at the University of Connecticut, 99 East Main Street in Waterbury. The lecture entitled, “Spiders, Cocaine, and Dementia….oh my!” will be presented by UConn Associate Professor of Psychology, Robert Astur, Ph.D. and is free and open to the public; advance reservation is required by calling 203-236-9924 or emailing   

Each day we observe people playing within virtual reality (VR) worlds on their Xbox, computer, Wii, or other gaming device. All are now commonplace due to the raw power and speed of modern technology. However, lesser known than these traditional entertainment uses is the ability of researchers to use VR to treat and explore areas of psychology that were difficult or impossible to address beforehand.   VR allows for excellent experimental control so that complex real life behaviors can be studied under reproducible, well-defined laboratory conditions. Hear how VR has been used successfully to treat a number of anxiety disorders, including phobias of spiders, airplanes, and public speaking as well as treating posttraumatic stress disorder in today’s military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.   He also will discuss how VR is used to assess driving skills so that older drivers can drive safely as long as possible

Robert Astur, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut, Waterbury.   Dr. Astur recently joined UConn in August 2011, but he has been conducting research at Yale University, the Institute of Living, and the Naval Submarine Base over the last 10 years. His research focuses on understanding the neural bases of learning and memory to provide insight into predicting and treating various psychological disorders and includes treating and determining risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease, addictions, depression, or posttraumatic stress disorder.  

The Osher Lifelong Learning program co-sponsors the UConn Waterbury Research Lecture Series with various academic departments. OLLI at UConn is located at the Waterbury campus and is one of a national network of Institutes associated with the prestigious Bernard Osher Foundation. Bernard Osher, a New England native, is ranked among the top fifty most generous philanthropists in the United States. Beginning its sixth year, OLLI currently provides non-credit courses, special events, author talks, research lectures, travel opportunities, and current events forums to over seven-hundred-fifty older adult participants (ages 50+) from 75 cities and towns in Connecticut. The spring session will be offered at the Waterbury campus beginning in March and the summer session of courses during the month of June, 2012.

For additional information, please call 203-236-9924 or e-mail     For press information, contact Dr. Brian Chapman, Director of OLLI at UConn at 203-236-9881 or