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Meet Our Lab

Students and faculty have a lab meeting.
Faculty meets with students.

PRINCIPLE INVESTIGATOR


Christopher Warren

Christopher Warren

chris.warren@usu.edu

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.


PHD STUDENTS


Ariel Snowden

Ariel Snowden

Ariel entered the Neuroscience doctoral program in 2017.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Western Illinois University in Macomb, IL in May 2015.  As an undergraduate research assistant, Ariel worked on projects using EEG to investigate differences in neural activation between cooperative and defective decisions in the Prisoner’s Dilemma and the neural correlates of social exclusion and emotion perception in alexithymia.  Ariel’s current research implements an investment game and EEG to identify the neural underpinnings of social decisions which are dependent on trustworthiness attributes. Her goal is to use this research as a foundation to further examine social decision making impairments in individuals with paranoid ideations.

Allison Hancock

Allison is in the Educational Neuroscience Program.  She has an undergraduate degree in communicative disorders. Following graduation, she worked in schools providing speech therapy. This sparked her interest in learning and attention, especially in children with learning disabilities. She has previous research experience using fNIRS and eye-tracking in adults and children. Her research interest include using neuroscience methodologies such as EEG, fNIRS, and pupillometry to better understand the cognitive processes that underlie learning and attention.
Allison Hancock
Stephanie Crank

Stephanie Crank

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. 

 

Kolby Leonardi

Kolby is a doctoral student in the Neuroscience PhD program at Utah State University. He graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in psychology. After graduation he worked with the VA looking at mindfulness-base interventions for PTSD in Veterans; this peaked his interest in the effects of trauma. At the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute he then worked on a project looking at Propofol for Treatment-Resistant Depression, and the biological mechanisms underlying depression. From there he wanted to combine his interest in neural mechanisms with the effects of trauma to better understand what happens to the brain during traumatic experiences.
Allison Hancock

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH ASSISTANTS


Romney Harker

Romney Harker

My name is Romney Harker and I am a Psychology major with a minor in Finance with the pursuit of becoming a Neuropsychologist. I am currently the president of the Neuroscience club at USU and a member of the soccer team. I am interested in better understanding the correlation of dopamine, reward systems, and addiction circuits with the hope of assisting others to improve their lives. I did a research internship in the Neuromodulation lab in 2018, and have continued to volunteer in the lab to gain research experience.

Emma Howard

Emma is a senior at USU working on a degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Chemistry. Next year she will begin a graduate program to become a physician’s assistant. Emma currently works at Logan Regional Hospital as a Certified Nursing Assistant on the Medical Unit. Along with helping in the Neuromodulation Lab, Emma is involved in the student council for the College of Education and Human Services and she coaches the Aggie Special Olympic Teams in track and bocce ball. Emma’s favorite thing to do on campus is play volleyball whenever she can, and she is looking forward to another year as an Aggie.
Emma Howard
Galen Huffcutt

Galen Huffcutt

I am from Elmwood Illinois and I am studying Human Biology at Utah State University. After I graduate I plan to pursue a PHD in neuroscience and be a research scientist. I am doing a research internship in the Neuromodulation Lab for course credit in Biology.

Rachel Watkins

I will be graduating in the spring of 2020 with a major in psychology and minors in biology and chemistry. I'm currently applying to medical schools and hope to continue my education next fall in the medical field.
Rachel Watkins