Current areas of faculty scholarship and expertise include:

  1. Learning and memory (in affective and cognitive realms): We study the basic processes that enable us to learn about our environment and to learn from our mistakes, with implications for everything from student performance to affective disorders.
  2. Cognitive and socioemotional development (from infancy through old age): We seek to understand what knowledge structures are innate, how learned knowledge is acquired over a lifetime, and how the accumulation of knowledge is affected by developmental disorders or neurological disorders.
  3. Virtue and morality: We examine when and why individuals cooperate with one another or trust one another and investigate how it is that we come to hold moral beliefs and how malleable those beliefs can be.

Our faculty approach these and closely-related topics from multiple perspectives (Note: Many of our faculty are interdisciplinary are listed under more than one heading):

Area Contact: Gorica Petrovich—Neurobiology of motivation and feeding behavior; functional organization of the brain systems mediating environmental control of food intake, specifically interactions between the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and hypothalamus; modulation of hunger and satiety mechanisms by learning and stress.

John Christianson—The focus of John Christianson's research is to determine how stress interacts with the neural systems that permit individuals to adapt to potentially dangerous and changing environments. The current emphasis is on the neural mechanisms that underly safety learning. The laboratory employs a multidisciplinary approach to study brain circuits and behavior including sophisticated behavioral paradigms, electrophysiology and optogenetics. The overall goal is to provide new insight into the organization of the brain and behavior and improve treatment for psychological illness.

Michael McDannald—Neural circuits in associative learning; neural basis for predicting the presence and absence of aversive events and how adverse experience early in life alter these predictive abilities in adulthood, focusing on interactions between monoaminergic systems, the amygdala and ventral striatum; common neural encoding of the presence of rewards and the absence of aversive events.

Area Contact: Scott Slotnick—Cognitive Neuroscience: Neural mechanisms of visual memory; control regions and sensory effects associated with retrieval of visual memories; subjective experience during memory retrieval; cortical substrates associated with visual feature-based perception/attention.

Hiram Brownell—Cognitive neuropsychology: how injury to various parts of the brain can selectively impair linguistic and cognitive ability; language: theory of mind, discourse, narrative, and lexical semantics; methodology.

Elizabeth Kensinger—Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience: The effect of emotional content on memory; specifically, the cognitive and neural mechanisms through which emotion influences the vividness and accuracy of memory, and how these influences change across the adult lifespan; research questions are investigated through behavioral testing of young and older adults and functional neuroimaging (fMRI).

Sean MacEvoy—Human visual neuroscience, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and psychophysics; neural mechanisms of form perception and object recognition; perceptual learning; functional organization of the human visual cortex. History of neuroscience.

Maureen Ritchey—Neuroscience of human memory: functional organization of the medial temporal lobes; effects of emotional arousal and other modulatory states on memory processes; memory consolidation; context representation and its influence on memory-guided behavior. Neuroimaging methods including fMRI and EEG: multi-voxel pattern analysis; functional connectivity; time-frequency analyses.

Joseph Tecce—Psychophysiology of health, including body languages as indicators of emotions and stress and cognitive-behavioral methods to control stress.

Area Contact: Karen Rosen—Social and emotional development during infancy and early childhood; parent-child attachment relationships; sibling relationships.

Sara Cordes—Infant, child, and adult cognition. Preverbal and verbal representations of number, space, and time. Children's early counting acquisition and understanding of mathematical concepts. Music cognition and perception. Psychophysics of quantity perception. Learning throughout the lifespan. Influences of language and context on learning, discrimination, and decision-making.

Joshua Hartshorne—Language can be used to move thoughts between minds, even those separated by considerable distance or time. The speaker takes a thought, packages it up into a series of sounds (or gestures), from which the listener must recover the original thought. This alone would be an impressive feat difficult for science to explain. My interest is in explaining how children learn these procedures. To do this, I combine laboratory studies, Internet-enabled "big data" research, and computational modeling.

Katherine McAuliffe—The development and evolution of cooperation. Katherine's primary research investigates how children develop an understanding of the norms governing cooperation and a willingness to enforce them. Her work on children is situated within a broader cross-cultural and comparative context that seeks to understand how and why the cognition supporting cooperation evolved.

Michael Moore—Children's participation in organized sport: parent-child interactions, emotional development; Cognitive development: memory organization, children's understanding of the "rules of the game," automatic processing.

Ellen Winner—Developmental psychology of the arts in typical and gifted children; cognition and learning in the arts; transfer of learning from arts to non-arts learning.

Area Contact: Ehri Ryu—Quantitative Psychology: multilevel modeling; model fit assessment in multilevel structural equation modeling; two approaches to analyzing multivariate multilevel data; longitudinal data analysis.

Area Contact: James Russell—Emotion. The expression and recognition of emotion through faces. Children's understanding of emotion and the development of emotional experience. Cultural influences on emotion. The distinction between mood and emotion and scientific taxonomies of each.

Donnah Canavan—Effects of shared enthusiasm; the development of individual differences: fear of success, healthy, and conventional orientations to success; psychological separateness and narcissism; psychology of self-esteem and of adult children of alcoholics.

Liane Young—Moral Psychology and Neuroscience. The role of theory of mind in moral judgment. Moral emotions. Cultural and individual differences in moral cognition. Moral judgment versus moral behavior. Motivated moral reasoning. Conceptions of the self and free will. The research employs methods of social psychology and cognitive neuroscience: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), studying patient populations with selective cognitive deficits, and modulating activity in specific brain regions using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).