Admissions & Aid
More than a dozen active laboratories in the department focus on topics such as the physiology of taste and preference formation, children’s acquisition of spatial knowledge, transactive knowledge in organizations, implicit learning in cognitive disorders, visual functions in Down syndrome, creativity and cognition in the arts, cognition without a spine (e.g., in octopus), hippocampal atrophy in early Alzheimer’s disease, implicit impression formation, Darwinian models of mate selection, biomemetic robotics, neurodegeneration in the aged, and implicit social cognition.
All labs are well equipped, and many have attracted funding from NSF, NIH, NASA, DARPA, and other organizations. Several faculty members have appointments and working collaborations with research labs in city hospitals and medical schools with access to frontier technologies such as fMRI.
Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)
The Department of Psychology has previously hosted an in-house conference where students and faculty present their research in a daylong event full of talks and posters. This is a fantastic opportunity for interested students to learn more about the wide spectrum of research being conducted within the department. And, for students already involved in research at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels, the in-house conference provides a collegial forum for communicating your findings to a broad audience.
View abstracts from talks and posters presented in past years.
We study all aspects of vision, in any accessible creature. We have used techniques ranging from anatomy, to electrophysiology, to behavioral methods. We have studied topics from recording responses of single neurons to spectral lights, to impact of environmental light on aesthetics of museum-going, to sex-linked differences in basic visual functions, to categorization of objects seen under degraded viewing conditions. Always, our approach is ultimately based on the biology of the visual system. These studies derive from a program we undertook some three decades ago: creation of a battery of tests to measure many aspects of vision: spatial and temporal resolution, and acuity; color vision, from discrimination to magnitude estimation of color appearance; binocular vision, stereopsis, and stereo-acuity; motion detection; pigmentation of iris and skin. At present we are concentrating on reverse engineering the psychophysics. We are designing studies to determine which neural pathways are involved in each specific visual sensation.
The Organizational Psychology Lab studies the relations among cognition, communication, and social structures within organizations. We have focused on transactive memory, communicative processes of knowledge acquisition, and how this can be applied to knowledge management and organizational learning. We have developed methods for investigating transactive knowledge and knowledge transfer using both questionnaires and interaction coding systems. We also conduct applied research that helps organizations with problem analysis and problem solving. Currently, we are working on organizational diagnosis for information transfer processes.
The Health, Emotions, and Relationships Team (HEaRT) Lab conducts research aimed at discovering why people with stronger social connections live longer, happier, healthier lives. We examine how personal characteristics (e.g., attachment security) and responsive relationship behaviors (e.g., support provision, physical contact) promote relationship quality, health, and well-being. Our research participants include college students, community couples, and online workers. We collect self-report, behavioral, and psychophysiological measures using a combination of experimental and experience sampling approaches to study relationships processes in the laboratory and in the ebb and flow of day to day life.
Elizabeth Chua’s main interests are in cognitive, affective and neural bases of metacognition and memory. The lab mainly focuses on people’s knowledge and awareness of their own memory, and how this impacts their behavior. The methods currently used to answer questions on these topics include behavioral, eye tracking, psychophysiological, and brain stimulation techniques.
Crump runs the Computational Cognition Lab. Research interests include learning, memory, attention, performance, and semantic cognition. Some questions include how do people learn new skills like playing an instrument or typing on a keyboard? How does memory work? How do people learn the meaning of words? How do people learn patterns and regularities in their environment? These kinds of questions are investigated using behavioral experiments and computational modeling of cognitive processes. The lab also uses a variety of computational methods and tools to conduct and communicate research. Students interested in cognition, computation, and data-analysis are encouraged to visit the lab website to inquire about research opportunities.
The Delamater lab explores the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms involved in simple forms of associative learning mostly in rodent models. We use a variety of behavioral and behavioral neuroscience techniques, including (a) targeted brain structure lesions, (b) pharmacological inactivation, (c) chemogenetic manipulations using DREADDs, (d) immunohistochemistry labeling (e.g., cFos), and (e) sophisticated behavioral tests. One project investigates the nature of reward processing where we focus on the question of how the brain learns to anticipate “what” reward is likely to occur in the near future as well as precisely “when” it will occur. We ask whether these two aspects of learning engage separate underlying neural systems, and we also ask to what extent “prediction errors” along these different “what” and “when” dimensions might be critical for brain plasticity. Another project explores the nature of the associative network that could give rise to the ability to time future rewards. To explore this we have devised a neural net model that is capable of showing temporally organized behavior as well as various phenomena related to interval timing. A third project examines the nature of extinction learning in Pavlovian conditioning. In particular, we ask what conditions might be especially helpful in promoting response loss after learning has taken place. Here, as well, we attempt to dissect learning into its separate components (sensory, temporal, emotional) and ask whether extinction processes might differentially impact these different forms of learning. Additional projects address other aspects of associative learning, including (a) learning about higher order conditional relationships among stimuli, and (b) assessing striatal contributions to goal-directed and habitual control of associatively learned instrumental behaviors. Some specific projects involve assessing cortico-striato-limbic pathways for their role in reward encoding, with special emphases on reward identity and reward timing processes.
My research program focuses on the psychology of the visual arts. In one line of research, I examine the affective benefits of engaging in drawing for children and adults. I have shown that drawing improves affect by allowing for distraction rather than expression. My current work delves deeper and more systematically into the question of how drawing to distract elevates affect. In a second line of research, I examine variations in drawing ability, asking what underlying abilities are seen in children who show exceptional graphic realism skill at a very young age. I have found that drawing prodigies and adult artists have superior perceptual skills. Finally, I study children’s and adult’s responses to and understanding of works of visual art.
Paul Forlano’s lab employs a combination of evolutionary/systems neuroscience with a cellular and molecular approach in order to identify neurochemical interactions in circuitry underlying auditory-driven social behavior, mechanisms of steroid-induced neural plasticity, and sex differences in brain and behavior. These studies largely focus on vocal, auditory and neuroendocrine circuits that are conserved across vertebrates.
Ana Gantman is an assistant professor of Psychology at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center. She completed her Ph.D. in social psychology at New York University and was a postdoctoral researcher at the Princeton School for Public and International Affairs. Gantman’s lab investigates how moral psychology affects how we see, think, act, and interact within institutions. Research in the Gantman Lab aims to test basic questions about the nature of morality that are directly relevant to public life and policy, using methods that range from cognitive and neural science to randomized field experiments. Our focus on moral psychology allows us to explore ideas in a wide range of topics, from top-down effects on visual perception, to sexual harassment and assault, legal punishments, and judgments of blameworthiness in corporate malfeasance. Students in the lab are leading investigations into a wide range of topics from moral judgments of seemingly inconsequential rule violations (e.g., jaywalking) to system-level punishment and change, and understanding ideological heterogeneity on the American political left. Gantman recently received the SAGE Young Scholars Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and was named an APS Rising Star.
Our research focuses on the neurobiological and psychosocial bases of antisocial behavior, psychopathic, and autistic traits in youth and adults. We are particularly interested in identifying early risk factors that may predispose youth to antisocial behavior, and the protective factors that can buffer young people from the risks of becoming antisocial. One line of research focuses on conditioning deficits in individuals with aggressive and antisocial behavior. We also examine emotion dysregulation and reward processing abnormalities in youths with behavioral problems. We use multi-modal methods from longitudinal and cross-sectional perspectives. The psychophysiological methods we use include electrodermal activity (EDA), cardiovascular activity such as heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV)/respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), and pre-ejection period (PEP). We also use structural and functional brain imaging (sMRI and fMRI).
I study how animals and people learn, including learning and evolution of traditions and culture. I conduct experiments on human learning and I build computational models of learning and cultural evolution. I accept undergraduate and graduate students, especially if interested in computational modeling.
Louise Hainline, Ph.D.
Curtis Hardin is a professor of psychology at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, and part of the Basic and Applied Social Psychology program. Hardin was Mahzarin Banaji’s first Ph.D. student (at Yale) and Tory Higgins’ millionth postdoc (at Columbia). His research focuses on the interpersonal regulation of conscious and unconscious cognition, including stereotyping and prejudice, the self-concept, social identity, religiosity, and political ideology. Much of this work is animated by shared reality theory, which posits that particular thoughts are regulated by particular interpersonal relationships through the degree to which ongoing working intersubjectivities are achieved and maintained (Hardin & Conley, 2001; Hardin & Higgins, 1996).
My research focuses on creativity and the psychology of the arts. I use laboratory, survey, and archival methods to study questions like perceptual differences between artists and non-artists, how creativity unfolds over the lifespan in classical composers, how artists dynamically evaluate emerging creative products, the psychology of humor production, and possible evolutionary constraints on human psychological aesthetics.
Our research community investigates cultural variation in socialization of children. Our work is grounded in theories and scholarship across disciplines, with an emphasis on critical perspectives, macro-level ideologies and narratives, and social constructions of childhood. Current research projects focus on understanding how parents across ethnic/racial groups construct and regulate children’s access to what they deem is emotionally “difficult knowledge” pertaining to race and racism. Students in the lab are leading investigations into a broad range of topics including anti-Asian discrimination and socialization of Asian-American youth, cultural factors shaping the identity of Indian adolescents, how gentrification in Newark shapes the identity of Black youth, and decolonizing the conceptualization and measurement of Mexican children’s cognitive development. Across all the studies, we employ various methods (e.g., observational, survey, visual, qualitative) to understand the contexts and discourses that shape the lives of young children.
My research focuses on how information is integrated across areas of the brain. This topic is addressed by studying characteristics of perceptual organization in healthy individuals, clinical populations (including individuals with brain injury or schizophrenia), and in an animal model. Members of the lab gain experience with techniques used to measure perceptual abilities, developing neuropsychological assessment for clinical groups, and applying these techniques to assess perception in animal models.
My research investigates cognitive and neurophysiological changes associated with symptomatic prodromal stages of dementia, toward identification of the earliest markers of dementia risk. I also study changes in judgment and problem solving along the Alzheimer’s disease continuum with implications for preventing exploitation, unsafe behaviors, and functional dependence among those most vulnerable. To carry out this work, I utilize neuropsychological tests, self- and informant-report questionnaires, genetic testing, and neuroimaging (structural and functional MRI). In addition, a line of educational research focuses on understanding factors that impact undergraduate student performance and improving academic and mental health outcomes of diverse students
The REACH (Research on Emotion, Anxiety, Coping and Health) Lab primarily investigates the complex intersection between physical illness and emotional well-being. This research focuses on broadening knowledge about the etiology, assessment, and treatment of anxiety among individuals living with chronic illness. Recent grant funded research investigated the efficacy of a health integrative cognitive-behavioral intervention targeting anxiety among youth diagnosed with chronic illness. Current doctoral and masters students are utilizing this research to investigate specific concerns of youth living with chronic illness, youth’s perception of their disease, and the role of the family in child adjustment.
Students in the lab partake in literature searches, entering and tracking data, managing participant recruitment, and delivering research protocols while being trained in research methodology, statistics, and specific treatments.
My research examines how motivation and opportunity direct and reflect individuals’ development across the life span. I am particularly interested in the dynamic relationships between individuals’ broader beliefs about society, their beliefs about themselves, and their motivational commitment to central life goals.
The Torrente lab studies the changes in gene organization that occur in neurodegenerative disease. Genes spool around proteins called histones, which have tails that contain modifications that regulate access to genetic information. Because these modifications can be targeted with pharmaceuticals, our research opens avenues for new treatments.
Our research emphasizes identification of early neurodevelopmental markers of risk for mental health disorders such as psychosis and depression, and the contributory role of other factors such as stress and sex/gender differences. We study biomarkers of risk (using neurohormone assay, neuropsychological testing, brain imaging techniques) and environmental factors (such as stress) among high-risk youth, young adults at psychometric risk, and healthy individuals from the general population. This includes use of prospective methods to better understand the early trajectory of illness, with an eye toward preventive intervention.