People

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Principal Investigator

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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

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Kaoru Nashiro, PhD

Research Assistant 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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Alexandra Ycaza Herrera, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Current Research Interests: Influence of female sex hormones on the stress response and cognition in younger and post-menopausal women.

Personal Website

Post Doctoral Scholars

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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

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Andy Kim, PhD

Post Doctoral Scholar

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

Website | Google Scholar

Graduate Students

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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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Shubir Dutt

Graduate Student

Current Research Interests: Examine the role of the brainstem and its nuclei in cognitive aging and progression to neurodegenerative disease using structural and functional neuroimaging.

Google Scholar

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Jungwon Min

Graduate Student

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.

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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.

Staff Members

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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.

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Hyun Joo Yoo, PhD

Senior Research Associate

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)

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 Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (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

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)