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Our Research

Our lab studies the developmental and biological foundations of thinking about yourself and other people, processing emotions, motivation, decision-making, and self-regulation.

The overarching goal of our work is to understand the brain systems that support healthy socioemotional development from childhood through adolescence into adulthood.

Join Our Participant Database

Interested in participating in a study? We maintain a database of potential participants that will be contacted when studies are recruiting and we’d love to add you!


Active Studies – Now Recruiting! Thinking About Self and Others Ages: 12-16 Gender: Males Population: Typically-Developing Teens and Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder Adolescence is associated with a lot of social and emotional changes, which can be especially challenging for teens with autism. In this study, we investigate how differences in brain development and hormones influence how kids with and without autism think about themselves and their peers.

Freshman Project

Ages: 17-19
Population: Male & Female Incoming UO Freshmen

The transition to college is a time of major social and emotional changes, and is associated with concurrent changes in health and well-being. This project is a one-year longitudinal study investigating how brain activity relates to health and well-being during freshman year.



Recently Completed and Ongoing Longitudinal Studies

Transitions in Adolescent Girls Study

Ages: 10-12 (sixth grade)
Population: Females

The transition from childhood to adolescence is a time of many significant changes – the end of elementary school and the start of middle school, growing brains and bodies that are going through puberty, and big changes in relationships with family and friends. We study how these changes are interconnected, by measuring the ways girls’ bodies and brains change during puberty, and relating these biological changes to self-esteem, motivation, thinking, friendships, emotions, and well-being.


Teen Decisions Study

Ages: 11-17
Population: Males & Females

Take a risk? Play it safe? Our lab studies these important topics by investigating the effects of social contexts on decision-making in adolescents from the community and those with a background of significant early adversity.



Previous Studies – (Archived)

Self-Disclosure Study

Ages: 15-17
Population: Males & Females

The recent surge of social media like Facebook has revolutionized the way we share information about ourselves with other people. In this study, our lab investigates various forms of self-disclosure and their effects on healthy psychological and social development during adolescence.

Thinking About Others

Ages: 11-17
Population: Males With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorder

Peer relationships are particularly important during adolescence. However, the ability to relate to peers may pose special challenges for teens with autism. In this study, we explore how brain development and hormone levels influence how teens with and without autism think about others.



Emotion Labeling Study

Ages: 8-17
Population: Females

Putting feelings into words can profoundly shape how emotions affect us. In this study, we examined brain activity changes linked to labeling emotional expressions with words like “sad” or “happy” versus just looking at emotional expressions.

Poster presented at the The Society for Research on Adolescence 15th Biennial Meeting, Austin, TX, 2014.


Thinking About Yourself

Ages: 8-17
Population: Males & Females

Adolescence is an important time for figuring out who you are. Changes in school, friends, and physical development all affect self-perceptions. In this study, we investigate how kids and teens view themselves, and how self-evaluations vary as a function of social, cognitive, and pubertal development.

Informational Resources

University of Oregon’s Lewis Center for Neuroimaging

What’s it like to get scanned at the Lewis Center for Neuroimaging? Watch the video below to find out!


Introduction to fMRI

How does fMRI work? Watch the video below for an animated introduction.



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