Meet Our Lab
In my lab we research how the brain optimizes cognitive performance under varying circumstances. Anyone who has made a puzzlingly poor decision under emotional duress, or who has felt as though time slowed down during a dangerous moment realizes that the brain works differently in different contexts. I study the neuromodulatory actions underlying these differences. Neuromodulators such as norepinephrine and dopamine change the way that neurons communicate with each other, with the potential to improve the speed and precision of neural processing when needed. My research focuses on how these neuromodulator systems mediate the impact of factors such as arousal, danger, and motivation on learning, attention, and decision making. I study the activity of neuromodulators in healthy humans with two general approaches: (1) direct manipulation of neuromodulator levels such as with psychopharmacology or brain stimulation; and (2) indirectly inferring activity through biomarkers sensitive to varying neuromodulator levels.
Stephanie is a doctoral student in the Brain and Cognition specialization at Utah State University. She graduated magna cum laude from Southern Utah University with a B.S. in Psychology and Criminal Justice. In her undergrad, Stephanie researched physical attraction, perfectionism, and criminal deterrents. She placed second in an annual research competition, and she presented her research at local and regional conferences. Stephanie was awarded as a Distinguished Presenter in 2015 and Outstanding Scholar in 2017.
Following her undergrad, Stephanie continued her education at Angelo State University, where she received her M.S. in Applied Psychology. In her Master's program, Stephanie studied student classroom behavior, mate guarding behaviors related to physical attraction, and deception. She presented her research at local and regional conferences and was an honorable mention in the 2019 Psi Chi research competition. She was awarded as Student of the Year in 2019. She plans to continue her research with deception and lying. Her other research interests include criminal behavior and language.