Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology

Ryan Leach

Title: Advanced Lecturer
Office: 235 Coffey Hall
Phone: 773.508.3771

Background Information
BA: Murray State University
MA: University of Illinois at Chicago
PhD: University of Illinois at Chicago
Courses Taught
Psychology 101 Introduction to Psychology
Psychology 304 Statistics
Psychology 306 Research Methods in Psychology
Teaching Philosophy
I am honored to work at a University where all members are united behind a common purpose and a unifying mission. Loyola’s commitment to social justice, diversity, and in developing complete individuals is something to be proud of. As a Lecturer of Psychology, my job is to not only provide instruction but to help students find their identity, strengths, passions, and how they can contribute to society. I believe that every student is capable of creating positive change, and my job is to cultivate that ability. I pursue this goal by, (1) providing thoughtful, rigorous, and flexible instruction while incorporating student feedback, (2) differentiating instruction for every student, so that learning is personalized, (3) allowing students to learn by doing, rather than learning by listening to a lecture (4) spending as much time as needed to get to know my students, and (5) spending ample time in class for students to learn from each other.
Research Interests
As my job primarily involves teaching, I am generally interested in ways to improve retention ability for both younger and older adults. Specifically, I study paradigms known to lead to memory improvements, such as the self-generation effect (information that one generates themselves is better remembered than information that is learned) and survival processing (information is better remembered when learned in a survival context). I also have conducted studies with a somewhat novel brain stimulation technique called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). tDCS is a safe, non-invasive procedure that applies a slight amount of electrical current to the cortex. The procedure alters the resting potential of neuronal cortices, making neurons in a targeted region more or less likely to fire an action potential. Many lines of research including my own have shown the procedure is effective in improving memory ability. Finally, I have experimented with use of certain classroom paradigms, including the learning-by-invention paradigm. With this technique, the class will complete a group activity using class material that hasn’t yet been introduced. Students will struggle to complete the activity, but when the information is taught directly after, students will remember the material better than if they had not completed the activity.
Buffington, J., Leshikar, E. D., Leach, R. C., Morgan-Short, K. (Revising to Resubmit). Examining the causal role of Broca’s Area in artificial grammar learning:  A noninvasive brain stimulation study. Cortex.
Burden, C., Leach, R. C., Sklenar, A. M., Urban Levy, P., Frankenstein, A. N., & Leshikar, E. D. (2021). Examining the influence of brain stimulation to the medial prefrontal cortex on the self‐reference effect in memory. Brain and Behavior, 11(12), e2368.
Meyers, Z. R., McCurdy, M. P., Leach, R. C., Thomas, A. K., & Leshikar, E. D. (2020). Effects of survival processing on item and context memory: Enhanced memory for survival-relevant details. Frontiers in Psychology11.
McCurdy, M., P., Leach, R., C., & Leshikar, E., D. (2019). Fewer constraints enhance the generation effect for source memory in younger, but not older adults. Open Psychology 1(1), 168-184.
Leach, R., C., McCurdy, M., P., Trumbo, M., C., Matzen, L., E., & Leshikar, E., D. (2018). Differential age effects of transcranial direct current stimulation on associative memory. The Journals of Gerontology, Psychological Science.
Leshikar, E. D., Leach, R. C., McCurdy, M. P., Trumbo, M. C., Sklenar, A. M., Frankenstein, A. N., & Matzen, L. E. (2017). Transcranial direct current stimulation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during encoding improves recall but not recognition memory. Neuropsychologia106, 390-397.
McCurdy, M. P., Leach, R. C., & Leshikar, E. D. (2017). The generation effect revisited: Fewer generation constraints enhances item and context memory. Journal of Memory and Language92, 202-216.
Leach, R., C., McCurdy, M., P., Trumbo, M., C., Matzen, L., E., & Leshikar, E., D. (2016). Transcranial stimulation over left inferior frontal gyrus increases false alarms in an associative memory task in older adults. Healthy Aging Research, 5, 1-6.
Matzen, L. E., Trumbo, M. C., Leach, R. C., & Leshikar, E. D. (2015). Effects of non-invasive brain stimulation on associative memory. Brain research1624, 286-296.
Wiedmann, M., Leach, R., Rummel, N. & Wiley, J. (2012). Does group composition affect learning by invention? Instructional Science, 40, 711-730.
Wiedmann, M., Leach, R., Rummel, N., & Wiley, J. (2015). Mathematical skills and learning by invention in small groups. In Y. H. Cho, I. S. Caleon, & M. Kapur (Eds.), Education Innovation Series. Authentic problem solving and learning in the 21st century (pp. 249–265). Springer Singapore.