Latest News

Allegheny Youth Development (AYD) Study

6 Nov 2018

Students from the Alleghany Youth Development program stopped by to participate in one of our research studies.

AYD Study

6 Nov 2018

AYD Students Working with Dr. Hanson

Community Outreach

17 Nov 2018

James, Bryan, Ally, and Mariel at an event showcasing our lab and inviting people to come and learn/participate with us!

Dr. Hanson will be accepting new graduate students for Fall 2019. For those interested, the LIFE Lab is primarily focused on three areas right now-

1. Continued work on a number of interrelated studies focused on stress exposure and reward learning. These studies are predicated on the idea that the ventral striatum contributes to more incremental habitual learning, while the hippocampus is central to more flexible contextual learning over time. Variations in hippocampal versus striatal differences may uniquely explain the negative outcomes seen after adversity.

2. Focusing on and expanding current conceptual models of the effects of early adversity. The lab has started to work on ideas of “stress sensitization” models which argue that risk for poor mental health is particularly elevated for individuals who have suffered early life stress and who then continue to face stressors in adolescence or adulthood. Other work could include building off dimensional models of adversity (e.g., deprivation versus threat) in relation to psychopathology. Additionally, the lab group is also digging into how environmental consistency in adverse context may impact learning and learning-associated brain circuitry.

3. Expanding into a focus on education. Our group has collaborated with renowned researchers in the department of education to examine connections between executive functioning, intrinsic motivation, and academic achievement. We hope to move this work into a neuroimaging context to understand how the brain contributes to these associations, especially for "at-risk" youth.

Important notes

  • Ideal graduate applicants would have experience in clinical psychology and/or developmental neuroscience.
  • In past cycles, applicants who were invited for on-campus interviews typically had 2 years of work experience (post-baccalaureate), with exposure to neuroimaging and/or basic statistical training (e.g., ANOVA; linear regression).