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Principal Investigator


Mara Mather, PhD

Professor of Gerontology and Psychology

At the core of our sense of self and personal history are emotional memories. Although emotional or stressful experiences tend to be memorable, emotional arousal can also impair various aspects of memory. In recent years, research into arousal and memory has focused on the key role of the amygdala in enhancing perception and memory of emotionally arousing stimuli. But enhanced memory for arousing information is only part of the story—there is also abundant evidence that arousal enhances some aspects of memory while impairing other aspects. In our lab, we are testing the theory that arousal enhances high-priority neural representations but suppresses low-priority neural representations of stimuli. We also are examining how age-related changes in inhibitory processes affect the influence of arousal.

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Research Faculty


Kaoru Nashiro, PhD

Research Associate Professor

Current Research Interests:  My research interests include understanding the underlying mechanisms of emotional well-being, emotion regulation, cognitive control, interoception and mindfulness across the adult lifespan.

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Collaborating Research Scientists


Martin Dahl, PhD

Post Doctoral Scholar

Current Research Interests: How noradrenergic neuromodulation shapes the communication in the brain. The influence of age- and disease-related changes in the locus coeruleus norepinephrine system on cognition.

Google Scholar | Twitter | ORCID

Post Doctoral Scholars


Martina D’Agostini, PhD

Post Doctoral Scholar

Current Research Interests: I am particularly interested in studying the effects of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) on the locus coeruleus activity. Specifically, my most recent work has focused on the effects of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) and slow deep breathing in young adults. Currently, I aim to test and compare the effects of tVNS on the LC in young and older adults. I am also particularly interested in revealing potential demographic differences in LC integrity by looking at demographic differences in LC MRI contrast.

Twitter | LinkedIn | Research Gate


Andy Kim, PhD

Post Doctoral Scholar

Current Research Interests: The mechanisms by which noradrenergic activity modulates age-related distractibility.

Website | Google Scholar


Jungwon Min

Post Doctoral Scholar

Current Research Interests: How decision making interacts with emotion and how that interaction is modulated by developmental stages, how activity in the locus coeruleus affects memory and attention, employing various research methods to better measure emotion and cognition.

Graduate Students


Kalekirstos Alemu

Graduate Student

Current Research Interests: Interventions to improve autonomic function, specifically increasing parasympathetic activity, to enhance regulatory control of brain regions involved in emotion and cognition in older adults.

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Padideh Nasseri

Graduate Student

Current Research Interests: Understanding interactions between emotion and decision making, particularly in aging, using behavioral, physiological and neuroimaging techniques.


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Christine Cho

Project Manager

Current Research Interests: The effects of aging on memory and cognition; the relationship between emotion, stress, and behavior; neuropsychological effects of trauma.

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Paul Choi

Project Assistant

Current Research Interest: Utilizing Structural Equation Modeling to investigate the underlying mechanisms of psychophysiology across age; specifically, how heart rate variability can affect cognition (memory, attention) and subjective well-being. Examining survey and assessment psychometric properties for test efficacy.

Hyun Joo_Edited2

Hyun Joo Yoo, PhD

Research Scientist

Current Research Interests: The relationships between brain function, physiological response, and emotion regulation. Effects of arousal on memory and cognition.

Former Lab Members’ Websites and Publications

Shelby Bachman, PhD
Research Scientist, VivoSense (LinkedIn, Google Scholar)

Sarah Barber, PhD
Associate Professor, Gerontology and Psychology, Georgia State University (Publications, Lab)

David Clewett, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles (PublicationsWebpage)

Kelly Durbin, PhD
Clinical Neuropsychology Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles (Publications, LinkedIn)

Shubir Dutt, PhD
Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSF Memory & Aging Center (Publications, LinkedIn)

Sara Gallant, PhD
Senior Research Associate, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada (Publications, LinkedIn)

Steven Greening, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Canada (Publications, Website)

Ringo Huang
PhD Candidate, University of California, Los Angeles (Publications)

Briana Kennedy, PhD
Tenure-Track Lecturer, School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia (Webpage)

Marisa Knight, PhD
Associate Professor, Psychology Department, University of San Francisco (Webpage)

Tae-Ho Lee, PhD
Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, Virginia Tech (Publications, Lab)

Nichole Lighthall, PhD
Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, University of Central Florida (Publications, Lab)

Bruna Martins-Klein, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Southern California (PublicationsWebpage)

Shawn Nielsen Alvarado, PhD
Field Application Scientist, Molecular Devices (Publications, LinkedIn)

Deanna Novak Carey, PhD
User Experience Researcher, Google (Linkedin)

Phil Opitz, PhD
Research Science Leader, Amazon (LinkedIn)

Allison Ponzio, PhD
Honors Research in Science Program Head, Marlborough School (Publications, LinkedIn)

Shai Porat, PhD
Senior Clinical Project Manager, RapidAI (LinkedIn)

Michiko Sakaki, PhD
Assistant Professor, Educational Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology, University of Tübingen (Publications, Webpage)

Jo Ann Sison, PhD
Principal UX Researcher at Johnson & Johnson, Robotics and Digital Solutions (LinkedIn)

Diana Wang, PhD
Research & Development Consultant, ZS (Publications, LinkedIn)

Alex Ycaza Herrera, PhD
Research Associate, EVALCORP Research & Consulting (Publications, LinkedIn, Personal Website)