Research Areas

Research Areas

healthy minds

Healthy Minds

We explore the mind, how it interacts with the brain and the world around us to influence our perceptions, our thoughts, our memories, our decisions, and our emotions. Our understanding of these fundamental processes and the brain mechanisms that support them is a critical first step in developing ways to maintain and improve cognitive and emotional health throughout the lifespan, and in those individuals with disorders affecting the brain.

healthy brains

Healthy Brains

We seek to understand how the normal brain develops and adapts from infancy to old age, and how lifelong adaptation is influenced by genetics, psychological and physical stress, and disease. Expanding our understanding of disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer’s disease will lead to innovative treatments that prevent or ameliorate these disorders that, directly or indirectly, touch all our lives.

healthy lives

Healthy Lives

We live, think, and adapt within a complex world. We study the social, cultural and environmental factors that shape our thoughts, emotions and behavior, and affect how we relate to others around us. By understanding these influences, we hope to help people cope with life’s many challenges and make better lifestyle choices that lead to healthy and fulfilling lives.

Faculty Research Interests

Alexander, Gene

  • The study of brain-behavior relationships in the context of aging and age-related neurodegenerative disease.
  • Use of univariate and multivariate network analysis techniques with multiple neuroimaging methods and measures.
  • Measuring of neuropsychological function, health status, and genetic risk to understand how these factors interact to influence cognitive function as we age

Updated: 07/05/22



Allen, John

  • Etiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders.
  • Risk factors for depression using measures of central and autonomic nervous system function -  especially EEG, resting state fMRI connectivity, and cardiac vagal control.
  • Development of novel and neurally-informed treatments for mood and anxiety disorders - including Transcranial Ultrasound, EEG biofeedback, and Transcranial Direct Current and Transcranial Alternating Current.
  • The most recent work has focused specifically on two lines of work:
    • Investigating transcranial ultrasound as a neuromodulation approach to alter emotional well-being, with the ultimate aim to provide a novel treatment for depression.
    • Assessing the potential utility of guided psilocybin experience to alter brain network activity, and to improve symptoms and function in obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Joint appointments with Cognitive Science and Neuroscience 

Updated: 07/05/22



Grilli, Matthew

  • Neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience of memory, imagination, and associated cognitive disorders (e.g., amnesia).
  • Individual differences in autobiographical thought.
  • Cognitive and brain aging.
  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Novel approaches to neuropsychological assessment.

Updated: 07/05/22



Hamann, Heidi

  • Broadly focused on psychosocial and behavioral responses across the cancer control spectrum, including early detection and survivorship.
  • Particular focus on cancer health equity.
  • Focused on improving cancer care outcomes through patient-centered interventions, including navigation and psychosocial care.
  • Conceptualized and developed interventions to address stigma among individuals with lung cancer, and explored sociocultural mechanisms of resilience in the context of lung cancer.

Updated: 07/05/22



O'Connor, Mary-Frances

  • Grief, loss and social stress research
  • Using methods of psychoneuroimmunology, neuroimaging, autonomic physiology, and virtual reality.
  • Particular interest in collective grief in the American Black/Latinx community, and bereavement as a health disparity.

Updated: 07/05/22



Ruiz, John

  • Investigate how social lives constitute both risk and resilience for physical health.
  • Emphasis on racial/ethnic and cultural differences in the above effects.
  • Use of a variety of methods including community and hospital-based observational studies, surveys, ecological momentary assessment, ambulatory psychophysiology, and laboratory based paradigms.
  • The lab’s current foci include studies of stress and cardiovascular risk, as well as the Hispanic Health Paradox.

Updated: 07/05/22



Ryan, Lee

  • Neurological basis of memory and memory disorders, aging and memory, and risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Updated: 07/05/22



Sbarra, David

  • Social relationships and health, as well as stress and health - including: divorce, marital separation, loneliness.
  • Genetically-informed research – including: twin studies, polygenic risk scores, and Mendelian Randomization
  • Quantitative methods for the analysis of change
  • Open science

Updated: 07/05/22



Taylor, Daniel 

  • Behavioral sleep medicine broadly
  • Improving the measurement of sleep - both subjectively and objectively - and relating sleep changes to biomarker (e.g., inflammatory, genetic, cardiovascular) changes.
  • Specific interests in the epidemiology and treatment of insomnia comorbid with other conditions and consequences of shiftwork.
    • Examining sleep and mental health disparities, as well as developing culturally responsive insomnia and other behavioral sleep medicine interventions.
  • More recently focused on documenting and improving the sleep of military, first responder, healthcare workers and Pac-12 athletes.
  • Ongoing observation studies:
    • Suicide Risk and Sleep in Treatment
    • Mental Health in Pac-12 Athletes
    • Daily Associations Between Sleep and Mental Health in Pac-12 Athletes
  • Ongoing treatment studies:
    • An Efficient Treatment for Posttraumatic Injury for Firefighters
    • Web-Based Provider Training for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Nightmares (CBTn)
    • Tele-CBTi in middle-aged and older adults, with inflammatory and cognitive aging outcomes.

Updated: 07/08/22

Alexander, Gene

  • The study of brain-behavior relationships in the context of aging and age-related neurodegenerative disease.
  • Use of univariate and multivariate network analysis techniques with multiple neuroimaging methods and measures.
  • Measuring of neuropsychological function, health status, and genetic risk to understand how these factors interact to influence cognitive function as we age

Updated: 07/05/22


Allen, John

  • Etiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders.
  • Risk factors for depression using measures of central and autonomic nervous system function -  especially EEG, resting state fMRI connectivity, and cardiac vagal control.
  • Development of novel and neurally-informed treatments for mood and anxiety disorders - including Transcranial Ultrasound, EEG biofeedback, and Transcranial Direct Current and Transcranial Alternating Current.
  • The most recent work has focused specifically on two lines of work:
    • Investigating transcranial ultrasound as a neuromodulation approach to alter emotional well-being, with the ultimate aim to provide a novel treatment for depression.
    • Assessing the potential utility of guided psilocybin experience to alter brain network activity, and to improve symptoms and function in obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Joint appointments with Cognitive Science and Neuroscience 

Updated: 07/05/22


Andrews-Hanna, Jessica

  • Internally-guided processes spanning self-referential thinking, memory, future thinking, emotion, and mentalizing.
  • Mind-wandering, imagination and creativity.
  • Neural and physiological underpinnings of internally-guided cognition & resting state connectivity.
  • Changes in internally-guided cognition in aging and dementia.
  • Dysfunctional thoughts in mental health disorders (i.e. depression & anxiety). 
  • Joint appointments in Psychology and Cognitive Science.

Updated: 07/05/22


Barnes, Carol

  • Behavioral and systems neuroscience, aging, memory, hippocampus.
  • Joint appointments with the Department of Neurology, Bio5, ARL Division of Neural Systems, Memory and Aging and Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute.

Updated: 07/05/22


Bever, Thomas

  • Language and cognition, including learning, music, sentence processing, reading, and cerebral asymmetries in humans and animals.
  • Joint appointment with Cognitive Science, Linguistics and Neuroscience.

Updated: 07/05/22


Chou, Ying-hui

  • Focused primarily on the cognitive and clinical neuroscience of aging and mild cognitive impairment.
  • Particularly interested in integrating brain imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) techniques to develop image-guided therapeutic TMS protocols.
  • Explore TMS-derived and image-based biomarkers for early diagnosis and prediction of therapeutic outcomes for individuals with mild cognitive impairment and healthy older adults.

Updated: 07/05/22


Cowen, Stephen

  • Understanding how the coordinated activities of groups of neurons and the release of dopamine in the brain contribute to learning, memory consolidation during sleep, and navigation.
  • Exploring how communication between neurons is disrupted in aging and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Development of novel instrumentation for visualizing and modulating brain activity, measuring dopamine release, and quantifying behavior to further the above research objectives.

Updated: 07/05/22


Edgin, Jamie

  • Memory development and disorders of memory, neurodevelopmental syndromes, sleep and cognitive development.
  • ERP and EEG approaches to the study of memory or Down syndrome.

Updated: 07/05/22


Ekstrom, Arne

  • Spatial navigation as a fundamental aspect of everyday life, yet something that declines in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions like stroke.
  • Employment of techniques like high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), encephalography (EEG), and patient work to understand the neural mechanisms underlying spatial memories.
  • Inter-disciplinary research with  foundations in computer science (via virtual reality and neural networks), geographical science, cognitive science, linguistics, neurology, neurosurgery, and others.

Updated: 07/05/22


Fellous, Jean-Marc

  • Neural bases of spatial navigation in complex environments, and neural bases of emotion and motivation.
  • Role of neuromodulator substances in changing information processing in large neural networks.
  • Use of rat in vitro and in vivo behaving preparations, optogenetics, and computational models to understand neural mechanisms and computations.

Updated: 07/05/22


Fernandez, Fabian

  • Establishing the logic used by the circadian pacemaker to interpret multidimensional light patterns
  • Understanding the psychology associated with nighttime wakefulness and its role in suicide risk
  • Identifying and understanding the significance of circadian fluctuations in real-world data
  • Analysis of important topics in sleep and circadian science

Updated: 09/22/22


Gerken, LouAnn

  • Early language development with emphasis on language structure (phonology and syntax).
  • Comparison of language structure learning in infants and adults.
  • Comparison of language and music development.

Updated: 07/05/22


Gomez, Rebecca

  • Learning and memory development in infants and young children.
  • Language development in infants and young children.
  • The role of sleep in memory formation in infants and young children.

Updated: 07/05/22


Isham, Eve

  • Temporal awareness and time perception, as well as action agency and intentionality.  
  • Understanding how the above cognitive processes are essential to our daily lives, juxtaposed with the currently limited understanding of how they operate and how they may be altered or compromised under different mental or health states. 
  • Employing techniques such as EEG, eye tracking, and TMS to observe the psychological and neural mechanisms of the above cognitive processes. 

Updated: 07/05/22


Jacobs, W. Jake

  • Learning Rule Governance.
  • Context (spatial and social), cognitive mapping, executive function, stress, fear, anxiety, and trauma, and anxiety disorders
  • Clinical neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology.
  • Joint appointment with Psychiatry, Fellow in Sports Medicine, and Directory Anxiety Research Group.

Updated: 07/05/22


Lai, Vicky

  • Figurative language: How do people comprehend metaphors, irony, and idioms? What is the role of metaphor in embodied cognition? Can metaphors help abstract, science concept learning? What are the social-affective functions of metaphors and irony? 
  • Emotion and language: How is emotion encoded in language? How do language activities such as reading give rise to emotion? How do readers’ mood states influence meaning making in language? Do older adults understand and produce emotional language differently from younger adults?
  • Language and thought: Do the language(s) we speak influence how we perceive and reason about the world?

Updated: 09/19/22


Nicol, Janet

  • Bilingualism, second language acquisition, comprehension and production of native and second languages
  • Methods include eye-tracking and brain imaging.
  • Also interested in Positive Psychology.
  • Joint appointments with Cognitive Science and Linguistics. Member of Graduate Program in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching.

Updated: 07/05/22


Peterson, Mary

  • Cognitive neuroscience of shape and object perception, face perception, and context effects.
  • Attention.
  • Perceptual learning.

Updated: 07/05/22


Piatelli-Palmarini, Massimo

  • The interdependence of cognitive and normative approaches to decision making.
  • Linguistic theory – notably: lexical semantics, the theory of concepts, and the biological foundations of language.
  • Joint appointments in Cognitive Science and Linguistics.

Updated: 07/05/22


Ryan, Lee

  • Neurological basis of memory and memory disorders, aging and memory, and risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Updated: 07/05/22


Wilson, Robert

  • Computational, behavioral and neuroimaging studies of exploration, reinforcement learning and decision making.
  • Joint appointment with Cognitive Science.

Updated: 07/05/22

Croft, Alyssa

  • Understanding how the self-concept is changed by social roles and societal expectations.
  • Examining the effects of group membership on perceptions and evaluations of the social world.
  • Identifying ways to promote positive and productive interactions within and between social groups.

Updated: 07/06/22


Greenberg, Jeff

  • Social psychology and existential psychology.
  • Terror management theory, existential isolation, and mystical and psychedelic experiences.
  • Self-esteem, prejudice, aggression, political attitudes, self-awareness and depression.
  • Joint appointment with Communication.

Updated: 07/06/22


Mehl, Matthias

  • Psychological implications of our everyday lives in regards to personality expression, person perception, social interactions, as well as coping and health
  • Use of naturalistic observation as well as psychological text analysis.

Updated: 07/06/22


Stone, Jeff

  • Mechanisms of attitude and behavior change.
  • The role of stereotypes and prejudice on disparities in health, sports, and education.

Updated: 07/06/22


Sullivan, Daniel

  • Suffering, anxiety, guilt, cultural differences, religion and terror management.

Updated: 07/06/22


Walker, Tammi

  • Research that uses psychological theory and empirical research methods (both qualitative and quantitative) to generate evidence that can be applied to real-world legal problems. 
  • Focus on policies and procedures. 
    • Examination of the procedures used by colleges and universities to adjudicate sexual misconduct. 
    • Research designed to improve outcomes for delinquent youth by combating bias in treatment and punishment decisions.
  • Most interested in improving outcomes by challenging the validity of commonly held beliefs that often support legal decision-making.

Updated: 07/06/22


Yoo, Jiah

  • Culture, emotion, well-being, health

Updated: 09/08/22

 

Updated: 07/07/22