When Dr. Marcia Pasqualini sat in her wooden desk at Center High School as a student, she knew that one day she was going to leave the comforts of Kansas City and live abroad. During her junior year at Tulane University in New Orleans, Pasqualini got her first opportunity to travel the world, and she hasn’t stopped since.
After studying abroad in Paris, Pasqualini’s next adventure came after graduation. While teaching at Washington University, Pasqualini was awarded a Fulbright research grant to work in Nijmegen, Netherlands.
“That’s what started my big stay in Europe,” Pasqualini said. “I like to see how other people live, to see places I've read about in history books, to hear different languages, and to talk to people who are different from me.”
Pasqualini ended up living in Europe for 11 years, in Holland, Germany, and England. While in Germany, she met her husband, Jean, a French journalist. Her daughter, Rosie, was born in England and has three nationalities: English, French, and American.
“The key thing for me is not traveling to different places as a tourist, but rather living in other places.” Pasqualini said. “I've had to pay taxes, look for an apartment, and go to the doctor – all those things that seem pretty ordinary when you do them at home. It's one thing to talk to somebody about health care in Germany, France and England, but it's another thing to depend on it.”
Except for college, Pasqualini said she was always working during her time abroad. Throughout her career, Pasqualini has completed vast research relating to social cognition, emotion, and self-regulation.
“My early research was on bulimia nervosa,” Pasqualini said. “I have also completed research on facial expressions in people with Alzheimer’s disease, Down’s syndrome, and in chimpanzees.”
Today, Pasqualini is back in Kansas City, teaching Psychology at Avila University. Pasqualini explained that at Avila, she is starting to conduct research using the new neurofeedback lab funded by the Menorah Legacy Foundation as part of the Mindfulness program directed by Dr. Maria Hunt. This summer, along with students Chrissy Arasmith and Melissa McDonald, Pasqualini completed data collection to see if people can improve their attention and memory through neurofeedback.
Pasqualini explained that as with any activity, if a person can receive feedback about how they are performing, they are more likely to be able to change their performance. She said that with neurofeedback, participants are rewarded for making changes in their brain activity in a certain direction, in Pasqualini’s case, rewarding people for showing patterns of brain activity associated with paying attention.
Although Pasqualini has traveled the world, she said that she is happy to be back home in Kansas City and said she still loves to root on her Kansas City home teams.
“I love to watch sports - especially the Chiefs, Royals, and KU basketball,” Pasqualini said with a smile. “I’m a fanatic, but I’m married to a Frenchman who doesn’t like watching sports at all.”