Rising Stars 2013
My research focuses on the development of intergroup cognition from infancy through adolescence. In particular, I examine the development of intergroup attitudes and stereotypes across implicit and explicit levels of analysis. My work also examines how children’s conceptual representations of group membership (as an ingroup or an outgroup member) develop across these years and how such representations constrain a variety of psychological processes including categorization, induction, evaluation, memory, and perception.
My research focuses on the very basic issue of understanding how the interactions between a system’s components constrain and enable that system’s dynamics. The human brain is a very complex system for which this question is particularly fascinating and has pervasive ramifications for the human condition. Non-invasive neuroimaging techniques have enabled us to map the large-scale structural connectivity throughout the entire human brain, as well as the functional connectivity between large-scale brain areas over both slow functional magnetic resonance imaging and fast electroencephalography/magnetoencephalography time scales of brain activity.
My research focuses on sexual behavior, particularly orgasms. I examine the subjective aspects of these situations. How do individuals perceive their orgasm experiences and why? I am currently exploring the role of context in said perceptions. Orgasm experiences appear to be more satisfying when they occur in the partnered context (i.e., from sexual activity with another person) than in the solitary context (i.e., self-masturbation). Individuals report these partnered orgasms to be both physically and psychological more intense and enjoyable. Going forward, I will explore what about the partnered sexual experience leads to these higher subjective assessments.
I focus on understanding the interaction between individual psychological processing and environmental factors that give rise to human behavior. My research has two main lines. In one line of research I study how external environments, such as the physical environment and social environment, affect human behavior. In my second line of research, the focus is on assessing individual cognitive, affective, and neural processing, which I term the “internal environment.”
Broadly speaking my research focuses on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) — spanning etiology, neuroscience, diagnosis, and intervention. More specifically, I am interested in bridging the gap in our understanding of the relationship between putative causal genetic events, neurological underpinnings of deficits in social cognition, the behavioral presentation of ASD, and how to intervene to address the challenges in social cognition
My primary research interests are in the neurobiology of learning and memory, with a particular focus on the neurobiological processes of information storage in the cerebral cortex. A critical issue in behavioral neuroscience is to find neural substrates that comprise the details of experience that form a memory. We all can identify with the notion that memories have content — they are about something. Yet the field has an incomplete understanding of how the details of “what memories are about” are actually represented in the brain. Therefore, it is also unknown what has happened when memories are lost, as in dementia or in various brain diseases.
The goal of my research program is to understand the biological underpinnings of affect and emotion, with a particular focus on the mechanisms that generate individual differences. My core interest is to understand why there is such marked variety in people’s affective experiences —why some people love the taste of coffee and others hate it; why some people laugh at a joke while others scowl; why the same event can result in one person developing affect-related psychopathology yet leave another person relatively unscathed. My experimental approach is both multi-method and interdisciplinary. I use methods that include behavioral observations, social-cognitive reaction time tasks, neuroimaging, and psychophysiology in humans and nonhuman primates.
My research investigates how genetic variation and environmental experience contribute to individual differences in brain function, behavior, and psychopathology. I am particularly interested in understanding how individual differences in reward and threat processing, as well as stress responsiveness, emerge and play a role in the development of depression and anxiety. The larger goal of my research is to contribute to our etiologic understanding of depression and anxiety.
In my research, I am examining socio-psychological processes of sustainable intergroup reconciliation with a particular focus on a post-conflict society of Bosnia and Herzegovina. More specifically, using both qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches I examine the following questions: 1) antecedents of acknowledgment and acceptance of ingroup responsibility; 2) antecedents and consequences of collective emotions such as guilt and shame; 3) socio-psychological processes that might facilitate intergroup forgiveness; and 4) effects of apologies and reparation offers on various reconciliation indicators.
Broadly speaking, my research examines the complex interplays among psychological, physiological, and socio-contextual aspects of childhood mental disorders and their treatments. In particular, my work focuses on the development of innovative methods for expanding the quality and accessibility of mental health care for early-onset disorders, placing central emphasis on the two most prevalent classes of youth disorders — anxiety disorders and disruptive behavior disorders — as well as the effects of disasters, war, and terrorism. To address shortages in the availability and accessibility of supported treatments, much of my research focuses on the use of new technologies for extending the scope and reach of supported interventions.
When assessing patients for mental health concerns, clinicians and researchers often have to take information from multiple sources or informants to make health care decisions, such as assigning diagnoses and planning treatment. This process results in generating a great deal of information about a patient’s mental health, but the individual pieces of information often yield inconsistent conclusions. These inconsistencies create considerable uncertainty as to how best to care for patients. My research seeks to understand why mental health assessments often yield these inconsistent conclusions.
Broadly speaking, my research investigates how people initiate romantic relationships and how they remain committed and attached to their partners. At this point, I have two primary lines of research. The first examines how people’s ideal partner preferences (i.e., the qualities that they rate as critically important in a romantic partner) affect their feelings and judgments about potential or actual partners. This work has used a variety of methods (e.g., confederate interactions, implicit measures, speed-dating, longitudinal designs) to document how people’s romantic evaluations shift depending on whether they are considering a hypothetical target, a face-to-face interaction partner, or an established relationship partner. The second explores the adaptive functions of attachment bonds.
My research builds on foundational work in social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, public health, and communication science. As such, researchers from across these disciplines have influenced my thinking. In particular, I am especially inspired by the early social psychologists who chose scientific problems based on real-world problems they observed and wanted to help mitigate. In addition, the direct mentorship I have received at each stage of my career has been phenomenal. Most centrally, Matthew Lieberman was my doctoral adviser and continues to be a fantastic mentor, collaborator, and role model.
As a social neuroscientist, my research utilizes cognitive neuroscience methodologies such as electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and traumatic brain injury (TBI) studies to investigate how different contexts affect the way we attend to and interpret information. My research program revolves around two primary topics: 1) How negatively stereotyped targets’ (e.g., women in math or ethnic minorities in academics) motivation, attention, and memory are affected by situations that prime negative group relevant stereotypes both in the moment and over time. 2) How factors such as contextual primes or genetic predispositions undermine a person’s ability to perceive novel, negatively stereotyped outgroup members in a non-biased manner.
I am fascinated by the tremendous variation in sexuality that is observed across the world, across historical time, within each sex, and even within a given individual over time. My work is part of a broader interdisciplinary attempt to understand the ways that evolved physiological and psychological systems interact with social influences to shape behavior and preferences. My research examines questions such as: How did evolutionary processes shape the human body and mind? How have shifting gender roles changed the nature of romantic relationships?
Broadly speaking, I study how people make decisions under risk and uncertainty. How do people perceive and interpret risk and uncertainty? How do they actually make decisions given that they have limited time and limited cognitive capacities? And how could they make better, more informed decisions? To address these questions, I take on a cognitive-ecological perspective, which sees decision making as an interaction between the human mind and its core cognitive capacities on the one hand, and the structure of the physical and social environment on the other. My work spans from basic research to actual applications, the latter focusing primarily on the health sector. It builds on a combination of laboratory experiments, cognitive modeling, and simulation, as well as surveys and field studies.
I study 1) how people perceive the minds of others 2) how people make moral judgments and 3) the link between these two processes. My research suggests that mind is perceived along the two dimensions of agency (intentional action) and experience (pain/pleasure), and that these two dimensions form the essence of moral judgment. All moral acts — no matter how they appear — are understood through a prototype of harm, consisting of a dyad of an intentional agent and a suffering patient. This dyadic prototype can help explain why people punish heroes, why victims escape blame, and why good deeds make people physically stronger. I also research the creepiness of humanoid robots, perceptions of vegetative patients, and the nature of objectification.
My research is in the field of personality development. In general, I am interested in examining how personality changes across the lifespan and what experiences shape personality. To answer these research questions, it is important to identify the most effective ways to measure personality and personality change. Given this, a large amount of my work also examines different methods of assessing personality, as well as the structure of personality. Ultimately, I hope to identify the processes that lead to personality stability and personality change.
My research interests evolve around the central topic of “emotion”. Specifically, my work tries to elucidate how emotions influence attention and cognitive control? How, in turn, emotions are modulated through cognitive processes? And what role the capacity to modulate emotions plays in understanding others? I study these questions in the context of psychopathology, using neuroscience tools to better understand the neural bases of alterations in depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental disorders.
I am most generally interested in brain-behavior relationships as we age, or the cognitive neuroscience of aging. Specifically, I study how changes to the brain’s structure with age correspond to the changes we see in cognition as we age. Interestingly, there is not a one-to-one relationship in this process because our brains are malleable to cope with the biological effects of aging, and our cognitive strategies may also re-arrange to cope with decrements to brain structure. My research focuses on how these processes are related in the course of normal aging and how we build upon our strengths as we age.
My research examines the mental representations and cognitive processes underlying deductive reasoning, creative thinking, and abductive explanations. A major challenge is to explain why people are predictably poor on some tasks, e.g., making certain deductions or estimating probabilities, but extraordinarily skilled at others, e.g., devising explanations. My collaborators and I think that the answer to this question is that mental simulations are the basis of high-level thinking.
Involuntary cognition, that is: complex mental acts which occur without volition or intention to perform them. For instance, involuntary retrieval of episodic memories, having a song “stuck” in your head, auditory hallucinations. Thus, such experiences range from benign features of everyday life to symptoms of psychiatric disorders, which is apparently determined by how much cognitive control you are able to exert over the experience once you become conscious of it. I am interested in how different systems (in cognitive and neural terms) interact to produce such experiences, and how they are related to perception of external stimuli.
I study a wide variety of topics that can be organized into a few specific themes. One major area of research focuses on how different aspects of social hierarchy (e.g., social class, power, respect) influence self-expressive or empathic processes. A second area of research investigates the social functions of emotions — in particular, how positive emotion expressions (e.g., smiles, touch) leak information about our core motivations. A third area of research is focused on how working models from past relationships influence the formation of new relationships.
Although the emotions we experience usually serve an adaptive function, sometimes they take hold of us in ways that are harmful, interfering with how we ideally want to think, feel, and behave. These are the situations that fascinate me. My research aims to illuminate how people can effectively control their emotions under such circumstances.
My work reflects my commitment to interdisciplinary approaches to the study of cognitive development. My research program draws upon diverse theoretical and methodological insights from cognitive science, cultural psychology, cognitive anthropology, and education science, to examine the cognitive foundations of cultural learning. I have conducted extensive research in southern Africa, and am currently doing research in Brazil, China, Vanuatu (a Melanesian archipelago), and the United States.
My research focuses on questions of morality and justice in the context of large-scale violence and conflict between groups. Why do people engage in destructive conflict? How do they justify it to others and themselves? How do their identities shape, and are shaped by, conflict? I’m specifically interested in the destructive and constructive powers of morality as well as justice mechanisms (e.g., trials), how they can foster reconciliation or plant seeds for future violence.
I have a number of research interests related to interpersonal relationships. One line of research examines motivated cognition within the context of relationships, especially how motivation may bias perceptions of partners’ care, commitment, and regard. In a related line of research, I am examining the motivation to be valued by partners and its impact on interpersonal behavior. Finally, in a third line of research, I am examining how people manage relationships with chronically insecure and emotionally unstable relationship partners.
In my research, I use a social cognition perspective to understand issues related to diversity in organizations. More specifically, I am interested in people’s tendency to use social categories (e.g., gender, race, parental status) to form often erroneous perceptions and attributions about others and the self, and how to prevent such misattributions from marginalizing the career success of traditionally underrepresented groups, creating dysfunctional conflicts among diverse employees, and ultimately impeding the creation of diverse, high-performing organizations.
My research focuses on understanding the nature of human emotion. I’m broadly interested in understanding what emotions are, how they are created by the brain, and how they emerge during social behavior. My ongoing lines of research are united by the hypothesis that emotions are constructed of more fundamental psychological processes that are general to all mental states. In this view, emotions arise from the combination of basic positive and negative feelings, concept knowledge, and attention. I take a multi-method approach, using social cognitive methods, psychophysiology, neuropsychology and neuroimaging, to ask how these more fundamental psychological processes interact during the experience and perception of emotions.
I am interested in automatic behaviors, such as habits, and emotional responses, such as fear, with an emphasis on how such behaviors and responses are learned and can be unlearned. In terms of brain function, I am interested in the structures that subserve and modulate these psychological processes, especially the basal ganglia, prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and neuromodulatory systems. My research program also includes a substantial translational component that investigates three disorders that involve disturbances in these processes and neural substrates: Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. I investigate these topics using a combination of neurocomputational modeling, brain imaging (especially fMRI), and behavioral experimentation.
My research focuses on neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Down’s syndrome. I am interested in the impact of these disorders on developmental trajectories, particularly as it concerns cognitive abilities. In my research on ASD I have shown that even when overt behaviours are similar to typically developing controls, those with ASD display different underlying brain processes. In my most recent research, I have started to investigate the links between Down’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.
I study a number of facets of adolescent psychopathology, but I’m particularly interested in how different aspects of puberty — its timing and tempo, its early-life antecedents, and the ways that children, peers, and family members perceive and understand it — lay the groundwork for future adjustment. My research tends to be fairly interdisciplinary, integrating developmental psychopathology with behavior genetics, public health, evolutionary psychology, and epidemiology. That’s partly reflective of my interests and partly reflective of the fact that the topic of puberty lends itself to that sort of work, since it’s a transition which spans biological, social, and psychological domains.
My research focuses on how we utilize emotional information to guide our attention and perception, and how we use cognitive strategies to remain goal-focused in the face of emotional distractors. Most studies examining prioritization of emotional stimuli have focused on how we respond faster and more accurately to emotional stimuli. However, prior to stimulus presentation, “top-down” factors like expectation and anticipatory attention can bias perceptual and attentional processes. My research focuses on the often neglected role of expectation and anticipatory attention in prioritization of emotional stimuli both in the visual and olfactory modalities.
My research focuses on two questions confronting the most characterizing aspects of the human mind: 1) “What is the relationship between language and thought?” and 2) “How and why is consciousness lost and (sometimes) recovered after severe brain injury?” With respect to the first question, I focus on high-level cognition, including arithmetic and music cognition, and logic inference. Does the structure of natural language provide a scaffolding upon which we developed structure-dependent thought in other domains of cognition? With respect to the latter question, I am interested in what aspects of brain structure and function underlie the loss of consciousness in patients in coma and in a vegetative state, and the potential for its restoration.
My research focuses on the science of diversity. My students and I develop and test theories about how people’s social identities and group memberships interact with the contexts they encounter to shape their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and motivation. I study how the contexts that surround us shape our basic psychological and physiological processes, ultimately informing us about the value of our group memberships. In particular, I study the situational cues that signal to women whether they are valued in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields with an eye toward uncovering the mechanisms by which cues shape our experiences, and how we might recreate settings to be more inclusive and welcoming to stigmatized individuals. I am also interested in understanding and uncovering barriers to positive intergroup contact.
My research focuses on elucidating the mechanisms of working memory and cognitive control. These are means to a broader understanding of the higher-level cognitive processes that are emblematic of human intelligence. My approach is to understand the mind through the brain and I leverage neuroimaging to accomplish this.
I am a social psychologist and my work focuses on intergroup relations, including the dynamics of conflict, cooperation, and help between groups. For instance, why do conflicting groups sometimes engage in competition over their victimhood following violent conflicts? How do people of one group decide which, of many, needy groups to donate their money to following humanitarian disasters? I have also studied the role of intergroup relations between smokers and nonsmokers in forming quitting intentions, and I am developing a model to account for the quality of intergroup interactions between the physically disabled and non-disabled. Many of these intergroup dynamics depend on trust; thus, I have also been examining how people recognize behavioral patterns of trust across interpersonal or organizational settings. All of this work is aimed at promoting more harmonious intergroup relations and transforming violent or counterproductive conflict.
My research focuses on examining abnormalities in reward-processing and reward-related brain function in mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder using multi-modal techniques involving psychosocial indices, neurophysiology (electroencephalography; event-related potentials), and neuroimaging (fMRI). My colleagues and I propose that risk for bipolar disorder involves a hypersensitivity to cues of possible reward which can lead to excessive goal-directed motivation in response to rewarding stimuli (i.e., mania).
The focus of my research is on developmental factors that influence memory for traumatic life events and trauma-related psychopathology.
My current research interests center on the roles of various individual differences (e.g., personality, cognitive ability, work experiences) in predicting and explaining important work outcomes (e.g., work attitudes and job performance). In addition, I am interested in developing and refining meta-analytic methods to synthesize primary studies (first-order meta-analysis) as well as first order meta-analytic studies (second-order meta-analysis, overview of reviews) in order to best estimate construct-level relationships, along with detecting and adjusting for publication bias, a serious threat to the validity of meta-analytic results.
My primary line of research examines the role of appetitive motivation in the development of unipolar mood disorders using multiple types of methodologies, including, self-reports, behavior, and functional neuroimaging. While there is well-established literature on appetitive motivational deficits in individuals with depression, it is less well known if this pattern of functioning is present before the onset of the disorder. Thus, my work focuses on children and adolescents without a personal history of depression, but who are at high risk for developing depression. If these alterations are identified before the onset of depression, I hope to be able to develop prevention strategies to target this dimension of risk.
I am generally interested in (human) judgment and decision making. If I had to narrow it down a bit further, I would say I am particularly interested in understanding (e)valuation: How (and why) do we assign value to things? I’ve tried to tackle this question in several ways; for example, by identifying normatively puzzling patterns of valuation, by designing new value-elicitation methods, and by contributing to the ongoing development and testing of a new decision-making theory (Decision by Sampling).
Generally, I research how social interactions with other people — both friends and strangers — affect our understanding of the social world. More specifically, I focus on how friendship with people from different social groups (“cross-group friendship”) impacts intergroup processes.
I am involved in several lines of research, all of which are aimed at examining the effects of lifestyle factors on facets of emotional and cognitive control, the corresponding neural circuitry involved in these interrelated processes, as well as the overall functional neuroarchitecture of the brain.
I am interested in how the human mind acquires, organizes, and uses abstract knowledge. In particular, my research aims to identify the basic conceptual organization that underlies our understanding of the social world and to discover how these concepts develop. Classifying people into categories (e.g., girls, babies, doctors) is a fundamental component of how we make sense of our social experiences. Thus, one of my key goals is to discover how social categories develop across childhood.
My research focuses on how age-related changes in the brain relate to the cognitive decline that we observe over the lifespan in healthy aging. We are particularly interested in how genetic and health factors work independently and interactively to modify neurocognitive aging. We use a wide variety of cognitive measures and structural and functional MRI, as well as PET amyloid imaging in our research.
I am fascinated by how social interconnections, particularly within families, shape our bodies and brains. For example, are spouses’ cortisol levels coordinated? How do early family environments influence youths’ neural and physiological reactivity? Dreaming up lab acronyms may be the academic’s version of doodling your future spouse’s surname in your journal. I settled on NEST — for NeuroEndocrinology of Social Ties — because I work with a lot of nested data, but also because a nest is a nurturing place that families construct together, much as spouses, parents, and children weave a family context out of the moments of everyday life.
I conduct population-level longitudinal mental and behavioral health research studies for the United States Air Force. The focus of my research is on identifying early predictors of risk and resilience for outcomes ranging from the development of specific psychological disorders to suicidality. I’m particularly interested in examining the impact of early screening and intervention on the sequelae of traumatic exposure.
Broadly speaking, I study psychology and law. The general theme of my research is judgment and decision making in the legal system. I also study violence risk assessment and risk communication.
My research focuses on the study of human emotion, especially factors that explain variability in emotional responding across people, in social and nonsocial contexts, and across the developmental course. In the last few years, I’ve focused on asking how brain development during the second decade of life relates to common changes in emotional processes and social cognition in adolescents. To inform these issues, my work combines behavioral, psychophysiological and brain imaging approaches.
My research examines large-scale brain network dynamics and their role in cognition. I am actively involved in the development and implementation of multivariate and network-based statistical approaches to assess brain activity. In doing so, I hope to better understand the properties of the brain networks underlying complex cognitive processes as they change across the lifespan. Currently, I am investigating the link between autobiography and imagination, how we conceive of the future, and successful navigation of the social world. These investigations extend to the related processes of memory, cognitive control, and social cognition, and the interacting brain networks that support them.
My research seeks to understand the neurocognitive processes that allow humans to perceive and explain human behaviors. My theoretical approach is primarily drawn from attribution theories from social psychology, while my methodological approach is primarily drawn from the social and cognitive neurosciences, in particular, the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging. So far, my work has been concerned with characterizing the neural systems that enable the identification and causal explanation of goal-directed actions and expressions of emotion.
My research examines the cognitive and neural mechanisms that support autobiographical memory; how memory is affected by age and emotion, and how memory retrieval influences how memories are subsequently retrieved.
I am a developmental psychologist and neuroscientist with a focus on social and affective processes, decisions, and abilities. Using neuroimaging techniques I try to characterize the structural and functional brain changes occurring during childhood and adolescence. I then use this information to see how it can account for the observed changes in social behavior and affective experience by means of paradigms derived in part from economic game theory and social psychology.
My research focuses broadly on human memory with a special focus on the causes and consequences of forgetting. Although forgetting may seem like a failure of memory, in many instances it is essential for the efficient and adaptive functioning of memory. Some of my research has shown that forgetting is critical for resolving competition during retrieval, overcoming fixation in creative problem solving, updating autobiographical memory, and facilitating new learning.
My research focuses on how neural systems support emotion and how disruption in these systems relates to alterations in emotion and empathy. I use a laboratory-based approach to measure emotional physiology, behavior, and experience in patients with neurodegenerative disease. In addition, I examine the neural correlates of emotional responding by relating laboratory indices of emotion to neuroimaging measures. The primary goal of my work is to expand our understanding of the association between neural dysfunction and emotional symptoms in neurologic and psychiatric disorders.
I have two primary lines of research, both of which address the question of how people manage difficult life events. My first line of research examines the understudied experience of awaiting uncertain news.My second line of research examines one particular type of difficult life event: seeking health care. My lab examines patients’ expectations for care, characteristics of physician-patient communication, and other psychosocial aspects of health care visits.
My primary interests are in cognitive development across the lifespan and how to develop proper instruments to assess cognitive trajectories. My current research focuses on the development of “covert assessment” as a new method for cognitive evaluation. I am looking for a new theoretical model to justify games and technology as a better way to explore cognitive function in typical and atypical development. My hypothesis is that it is possible to assess cognitive functions without full awareness of the task.
Eating is the thread that ties all of my research together. I study the way we eat (whether that’s overeating in response to things like stress, or not eating, meaning fasting and dieting) and how that makes us healthy or unhealthy. As a health psychologist, I tend to examine biological outcome variables like the stress hormone cortisol, or telomeres, a biomarker of aging represented by the length of the caps that protect chromosomes. As a social psychologist by training, I also care deeply about stigmatized populations, and that manifests itself in my work focusing on weight stigma and health disparities in obesity.
The research in my lab seeks to understand key components of cognition, such as perception and memory. These components are often studied in isolation, with a risk of missing the forest for the trees. The overarching theme of our work is that cognitive processes are inherently interactive — and that studying their behavioral and neural interactions can be especially informative. We investigate learning mechanisms such as “statistical learning” that transform perceptual experience into memory, and attentional mechanisms such as “background connectivity” that regulate this transformation.
I study the influence of discrete emotions on social and moral judgment, with a particular interest in the adaptive importance of these states. Usually this involves constructing realistic social situations in the lab meant to elicit a particular emotional state from participants, and then measuring its effects on phenomena such as trust, cooperation, altruism, blame, or punishment.
My research primarily examines the dynamics that unfold during dyadic interactions, with a particular focus on the intergroup (e.g., cross-race) context. I study how individuals come to make sense of their partners’ behaviors, whether the inferences they make based on these behaviors are accurate, and how psychologists can shape such inferences to improve the quality of intergroup relationships. I also study basic person perception processes, and my theoretical work focuses on developing a unified approach to defining and studying accuracy in interpersonal perception.
I study the cognitive and neural bases of social cognition and behavior. For the past several years, my research focused on empathy and social cognition:I have set my sights not only on how we think about other people, but also how we behave towards them, and specifically why people so deeply value “being on the same page” as others (interpersonal alignment), and helping others (prosociality).