My research investigates the intersection of affective (emotional) and cognitive processes with aging. Some processes are controlled and effortful, while others are more automatic. I have primarily focused on investigating how different cognitive strategies influence emotional outcomes.
Other research interests have included investigations of age-related changes in judgment and decision-making, changes in white matter structure following traumatic brain injury (TBI) using DTI methods, and combined fMRI localizers of functions (motor, language, etc), and DTI techniques to aid in neurosurgical planning.
Overall, I am interested in utilizing state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques to better understand how emotion and cognition interact in later life.
Emotion Regulation & Aging
Emotional reactions can be regulated via different strategies, ranging from thinking about something unrelated to the stressor (distraction), to reinterpreting the image in a more positive light (reappraisal/rethink). I have primarily focused on investigating how these different cognitive strategies influence emotional responding and physiology across the lifespan. I aim to answer questions such as 1). How do older adults better regulate emotion compare to younger people despite decline in cognitive control brain networks? 2). Do older adults choose strategies based on minimization of effort utilized or maximization of effectiveness?
Mindfulness across the Lifespan
I am also interested in how increased awareness of self-related emotions and thoughts may lead to emotional benefits, especially in later-life. I am interested in the neurobiological underpinnings of mindfulness, and whether increased mindfulness in older adults may compensate for age-related grey matter decline in frontal and parietal emotion regulation regions.