Kevin Ochsner, PH.D.
Google Scholar | Email
Kevin received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Masters and Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University. He has also received postdoctoral training in social psychology at Harvard (in lab of Daniel Gilbert) and functional neuroimaging at Stanford University (in lab of John Gabrieli, now at MIT).
He currently is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. Kevin's research interests include the psychological and neural processes involved in emotion, self-control, and person perception. All of his work employs a social cognitive neuroscience approach that seeks to integrate the theories and methods of social psychology on the one hand, and cognitive neuroscience on the other.
Kevin is a recipient of the Young Investigator Award from The Cognitive Neuroscience Society, Columbia University’s Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award, and the APA Division 3 New Investigator Award. In 2010 Kevin was identified as 27th most cited Social Psychologist of all time, corrected for stage of career, in an article on citation impact by Nosek et al. published in PSPB. In 2008 Kevin was identified as the most cited Assistant Professor in Social Psychology in an article published in SPSP’s Diologue.
Along with Nim Tottenham, Kevin is Co-Director of the Psychology Undergraduate Honor’s Program. His teaching includes seminars on social cognitive neuroscience as well as a lecture course on experimental psychological methods for studying emotion and social cognition.
Chelsea is an NRSA postdoctoral fellow whose research focuses on how emotion influences judgment and decision-making across multiple domains, including moral behavior, consumer decision-making, and autobiographical memory. To investigate these processes, she utilizes multiple methods, including implicit and explicit behavioral measures, functional neuroimaging, and large-scale field studies. Chelsea received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2014, where she worked primarily with David Pizarro, BJ Casey, and Tom Gilovich.
Ryan is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University, where he works with Dr. Kevin Ochsner in the SCAN Lab. Ryan’s research bridges methods of psychology and neuroscience to study person perception, social categorization, and stereotyping. In particular, he studies how social and cognitive processes structure our interpretations of others (e.g., how stereotypes shape personality impressions of faces). He completed his PhD at New York University under Dr. Jonathan Freeman.
Matt Sachs is a post-doctoral fellow in Columbia's Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience program, working jointly with Kevin Ochsner and Chris Baldassano. His research focuses on understanding the neural and behavioral mechanisms involved in emotions and feeling in response to naturalistic stimuli, such as music and film. Matt received his PhD from the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute, directed by Dr. Antonio Damasio, and his B.A. from Harvard University. His postdoctoral research involves applying data-driven, computational models to capture whole-brain patterns of neural activity that map onto uniquely human experiences with music.
Sydney is a graduate student broadly interested in how emotion regulation changes across the life span, and how those changes may affect daily life functioning for older adults. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Princeton University, where she worked in the Human Working Memory Lab with Dr. Andrew Conway. Prior to joining the SCAN Lab, Sydney was a research assistant in the Stanford Life-span Development Lab with Dr. Laura Carstensen.
Jocelyn is interested in the ways in which we socially regulate others, including their emotions, and how that relates to other capabilities, such as wisdom and empathy. She is a former RA in the lab and has prior experience working on various aspects of emotion and emotion regulation. Prior to being in the lab, she received a B.F.A. in Painting through a joint program with the University of San Francisco and the California College of the Arts. She began studying psychology as a post-baccalaureate student at Columbia University.
Nir is an NSF fellow whose research examines the way in which we perceive, affectively respond to, draw inferences about and mentally represent, other people. Prior to joining the lab he was a research assistant in the lab of Rebecca Saxe at MIT and worked for an internet provider in Uganda.
Monica is interested in investigating how we label the emotions we feel, how those changing those labels might change our emotions, and how different people in the same situation label their emotions differently. Before coming to Columbia, Monica earned her B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University, where she worked in Dr. Anthony Wagner's Memory Lab as an undergraduate research assistant with Dr. Melina Uncapher and later as a full-time lab manager.
Brian uses custom designed platforms to investigate how positive and negative affect effects motivational states, and the downstream consequences of those motivational states with respect to behavioral and cognitive measures and memory. Prior to joining the SCAN lab, Brian received an M.S. in Neuroscience and Education from Teachers College. Before his academic career, Brian was an entrepreneur and finance professional focused on data-driven solutions to application design and investment processes. Brian is the recipient of the Neuroscience Fellowship award.
Ovidia studies the perception and regulation of emotions in social settings. She received a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University and a M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College. Before joining the SCAN lab, she worked in the Loss, Trauma, and Emotion lab where she investigated the impact of scarcity on emotion regulation flexibility with George Bonanno.
Jochen is a senior imaging data analyst. He brings his all-around elfin magic and special expertise in mathematics and programming to the Lab to assist with and support the analysis and visualization of data. Jochen has been a member of Prof. Ochsner's lab since 2008, and he is the go-to person for implementing processing and analysis of fMRI data, mainly in Matlab. His efforts have resulted in the publicly available toolbox NeuroElf. Before coming to the lab, Jochen worked at Brain Innovation, the makers of BrainVoyager, and before that he worked for four years at the neuroimaging core facility at the University Hospital in Aachen, Germany. Next to his working on algorithms and code implementation, Jochen has a strong interest in social phenomena in general.
Sky is a lab manager at the SCAN Lab. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from New York University in 2018. Prior to coming to the SCAN lab, Sky has conducted research on self-regulation in Dr. Gabriele Oettingen’s Motivation Lab and on fear extinction in Dr. Yaakov Trope’s lab. She is interested in mental imagery, the effects of reading works of fiction on social cognition, and the use of virtual reality in psychological experimentation settings.
Yi received his BA in Psychology and Philosophy from New York University in 2018 and is now a lab manager and research assistant in the SCAN Lab. At NYU, Yi primarily worked as a research assistant in Professor Jay Van Bavel and Professor Jon Freeman’s labs, where he studied political psychology and social categorization, respectively. Yi is currently helping with multiple projects in the SCAN Lab and is looking forward to exploring his interest in emotion, emotion regulation, and moral psychology.
Franklin is a first-year puppy, who is interested in the development of self-control, variable-ratio schedules in reward reinforcement, and how long walks can promote mindfulness. His favorite form of emotion regulation is attention selection, and he plans to integrate new methods soon. When not in the lab, he enjoys chewing on his toys, snoozing, and rooting for Philadelphia sports teams.
Former Graduate Students
Rebecca received a B.A. in History from NYU, an M.A. in Teaching from UC Santa Cruz, an M.Ed. in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia University with the support of an NRSA predoctoral fellowship. Her dissertation work with Kevin Ochsner used behavioral and brain imaging methods to examine how social influence and brain development shape emotional responses. Rebecca is currently a postdoctoral fellow with Cate Hartley at New York University. In her postdoctoral work, Rebecca researches how emotion and novelty shape learning and memory across development
Bruce is interested in the regulation of positive emotion in health and psychopathology. He received his B.Sc. from the University of Guelph, and his Ph.D. (in 2016) in Psychology at Columbia University under the support of an NSERC graduate fellowship. In his research, he uses behavioral, neuroimaging, and large-scale observational methods to ask questions about the motivational, cognitive, and brain processes that determine how we respond to and recover from emotional events. Current projects investigate the cognitive and brain processes that underlie our ability to, 'look on the bright side,' in response to negative life experiences, the motivational factors that influence when and how we choose to regulate our emotions, and how these abilities and motivations change from young to older adulthood. Bruce is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania in the lab of Emily Falk.
Noam received his Ph.D. in 2016. As a graduate student he was broadly interested in how people's thoughts, feelings, and behavior shape and are shaped by their social networks and positions within them. This line of research integrates theories and methods from social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and sociology to investigate questions like how our brains track group members' status (i.e., position within the social network), why certain group members are more accurate (or systematically biased) in predicting how they are perceived by others, and other curiosities that keep him up at night. Prior to graduate school Noam researched causes of the precipitous increase in autism prevalence with the Understanding Autism group at Columbia University, led by Dr. Peter Bearman. Noam is now a post-doctoral fellow in Columbia's Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience program.
Jenny Porter was a graduate student from 2011-2013. Her work focused on the social, cognitive, and developmental factors and perceptual cues that impact empathic accuracy in adults and adolescents. Jenny is now a clinical research assistant and adjunct professor at Queens College. Prior to coming to the lab she received her B.S. in Brain, Behavior & Cognitive Sciences from the University of Michigan in 2008, and worked with Alex Todorov at Princeton University and with Lisa Feldman Barrett at Northeastern University.
Bryan received his Ph.D. in the lab in 2012 and has interests in the temporal dynamics of emotion regulation and how it can be improved in people suffering from clinical disorders. In addition, he is interested in social cognition more generally and the role that medial prefrontal cortex plays in attributions about self and others. Prior to coming to Columbia he worked as a research assistant with Todd Heatherton at Dartmouth College. After leaving Columbia he was a post-doctoral fellow with Harold Koenigsberg at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and is currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at Rice University.
Jen received her B.A. from the University of Virginia in 2005, and received her Ph.D. in the lab in 2013. As an NRSA pre-doctoral fellow, her work used multiple approaches (e.g., behavioral paradigms, fMRI) to examine what factors enhance and diminish emotion regulation abilities. Her main focus is the developmental trajectory of emotional reactivity and regulation, as well as how emotion regulation research may be applied to at-risk groups and individuals with psychopathology (e.g., BPD patients). Prior to coming to Columbia, she worked as a research assistant with Alex Martin at NIMH. She subsequently was a post-doctoral fellow with Nim Tottenham and his currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at UCLA.
Elina received her PhD in the lab in 2013 after starting her graduate career in the lab of Janet Metcalfe. She was interested in understanding and facilitating effective self-regulation in the successful pursuit of one's goals. Elina obtained a BA and Masters degree on Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford, UK. She was born and raised in Athens, Greece, where she currently resides and works as a counseling Psychologist.
Jamil was an Autism Speaks fellow who received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2010 and subsequently was a postdoctoral fellow with Jason Mitchell at the Harvard Center for Brain Science. His research focuses on the cognitive and neural bases of social behavior, particularly w.r.t. empathy and empathic accuracy, social influence, and altruism. He is currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford University where he directs the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory.
Hedy was an NSF graduate research fellow who received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2009, and now is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Yale where she directs the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. She continues to collaborate on projects examining emotion regulation as well as meta-analyses of the neural systems underlying social and affective abilities.
Josh received his Ph.D. in Spring 2008 after starting his Ph.D. career in the lab or Robert and worked on projects examining the role of the body (i.e. somatic and behavioral expression) in emotion and emotion regulation. Josh has broad interests in the nature of psychological theories, and theory-building more generally. After receiving his PhD he was a Term Assistant Professor at Barnard college and currently is director of research for the Neuroleadership Institute.
Laura Martin Braunstein
Laura was an NRSA post-doctoral fellow who received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Rutgers University working in the lab of Mauricio Delgado, where she examined the effect of emotion regulation on financial risk-taking and the neural processing of rewards. Laura’s research in the SCAN Lab examined how we can use emotion regulation strategies to decrease the appetitive pull of rewards to promote controlled behavior. More broadly, she is interested in delineating different types of emotion regulation based on the nature of their underlying processes, which can be explicit, implicit, or a combination of the two. Laura currently resides in Denver, CO where she brings her analytic skills to bear in working for the Office of Research and Analysis at the Colorado State Department of Revenue.
Micheal was Fulbright Scholar and Rothschild fellow who studied psychology and economics in Tel Aviv University and then went on to do a Ph.D. in social neuroscience under the supervision of Nira Liberman from Tel Aviv University and Anat Maril from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Generally speaking, his research is on the interaction between humans' cultural-symbolic and preverbal cognition. He current is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Ben Gurion University in Israel.
Ajay received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 2008, was a post-doc in the lab for approximately two years and then worked as a research scientist in the lab of Lisa Feldmann-Barrett where he also collaborated with Tor Wager. He has interests in the neural bases of social cognition, emotion and learning and in developing new analytic and computational methods to study their interactions. He is currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at Pomona College.
Dario received his Ph.D. from the University of Bern in 2010 and was a post-doc in the lab from 2011-2012. His research in the lab focused on the role of visual strategies during empathic judgments and emotion regulation tasks. He is currently a post-doctoral researcher in Prof. Marianne Schmid Mast's lab at the University of Lausanne.
Kim was a post-doctoral fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program from 2007-2009. She had interests in the neural bases of social cognition, the mirror system, perspective taking, interpersonal relationships and health. She is currently staff member for the House Science, Space and Technology Committee in Washington D.C.
Ethan was a post-doctoral fellow from 2007-2008 and is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan where he directs the Emotion and Self Control Lab. He has collaborated on various projects examining the use of different forms of cognitive construal (e.g. those involve accepting as opposed to reinterpreting the meaning of stimuli) to regulate emotion.
Andreas was a post-doc from 2005-2007 and is now an Associate Professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden where he directs the Emotion Lab. He collaborated on projects examining the behavioral and neural mechanisms mediating emotions in social contexts, including the ways in which cognitive goals and strategies can affect the emotional processes involved in the perception of, and learning from, others.
Former Research Assistants
Odile worked as a lab manager and research assistant in the SCAN Lab from 2016 to 2018. While there, she worked on neuroimaging studies of emotion regulation in both healthy and clinical populations. In Fall 2018, she began as a graduate student in the University of Wisconsin's Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, working in the lab of Mike Koenigs. Her work focuses mainly on emotion regulation in psychopathic prison inmates.
Chelsea received her BA in psychology from Vassar College in 2014, and was a lab manager and research assistant in the SCAN Lab from 2014 to 2016. In the SCAN Lab, she worked on studies that investigate emotion regulation across the lifespan, as well as in patients with depression and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Her main research interests lie in the relationships among attentional control, self-focus, and stress in emotion regulation choice and ability, and how these relationships differ between clinical and non-clinical populations. In Fall 2016 she began as a graduate student in Harvard's Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program where she applies this line of work to those suffering from self-harming thoughts and behaviors.
Peter Franz was a Lab Manager, primarily working on the lab's developmental neuroimaging projects, including independent projects examining the effects of daily stress, family support, and socioeconomic status on the neural correlates of emotion regulation in youth. His main research interests lie in the development of cognitive emotion regulation in youth. He is specifically interested in the ways that early environments and parent-child relationships promote adaptive regulatory behaviors in adolescence. In Fall 2015 he began graduate studies in Clinical and Developmental Psychology at Harvard University, working primarily in the lab of Matthew Nock.
Katie graduated from Columbia in 2010 with a BA in psychology. Her work focuses on the developmental trajectory of appetitive and aversive emotion regulation in children and adolescents. She is now a graduate student at Harvard University in the lab of Leah Somerville.
Alexa Hubbard was a lab manager and research assistant from 2012-2014. Alexa worked primarily on projects related to cognitive emotion regulation in youth, the elderly, and individuals suffering from borderline personality disorder, alcoholism, or depression. She is now a graduate student in the social psychology program at New York University working in the lab of Yaacov Trope.
Rich was a research assistant in the SCAN Lab from 2009-2011 after receiving his BA in psychology from Princeton University, where he worked in the lab of Alex Todorov. He studied craving regulation in cigarette smokers and methamphetamine users. In 2017, Rich received his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from Dartmouth, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Rice University, where he works in the Translational Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience Lab (PI: Dr. Bryan Denny).
Chuk was a research assistant from 2009-2010 and subsequently worked at the Substance Treatment and Research Service (S.T.A.R.S) at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, where he investigated the role of stress sensitivity in perpetuating cocaine use after abstinence.
Katherine was a research assistant and graduate of Columbia with a BA in Psychology who won the prestigious Jennifer A Pack Prize. She worked on studies of craving regulation in substance abusing populations, and emotion regulation in borderline personality disorder and children. She completed her master's degree in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Oslo and currently works as an educational psychologist in the Oslo area.
Peter was a research assistant from 2007-2008 after receiving his BA from Columbia. He worked on studies of emotion regulation, pain regulation, and their relationship to addiction. He was a graduate student with Alex Todorov in Psychology at Princeton University, a post-doc at NYU in the lab of Jay van Bavel, and currently is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Delaware.
Brent was the lab manager and a research assistant working on projects examining the neural bases of emotion regulation and pain. Brent was a U. of Michigan undergrad and managed the lab of Dr. Steve Taylor after graduating. After leaving the lab Brent was a graduate student in the lab of Jennifer Beer at the University of Texas at Austin, a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University, and is now Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside.
Matthew was once the lab’s systems administrator, go-to person for computing and programming needs, and fMRI data analyst. Matt has a sardonic wit and the most complete collection of politically savvy t-shirts this side of the Hudson. He subsequently was a graduate student in the Department of Psychology at Columbia working with Hakwan Lau.
Sonja was the lab manager, and in that role worked on various projects related to stress and cognition and emotion regulation. She has a master’s degree in sociology and was the manager for the Davachi Lab at NYU prior to moving uptown. She currently works at Smart Information Flow Technologies where she develops mobile applications merging evidence-based psychological theories with new technologies to provide creative solutions for behavioral problems related to health and lifestyle.
Lisa Feldmann-Barrett, Ph.D. website
Jennifer Bartz, Ph.D. website
Jennifer Beer, Ph.D. website
Peter Bearman, Ph.D.
Niall Bolger, Ph.D. website
B.J. Casey, Ph.D. website
Joan Chiao, Ph.D. website
Geraldine Downey, Ph.D. website
Michael Green, Ph.D. website
John Gabrieli, Ph.D. website
James Gross, Ph.D. website
Hedy Kober, Ph.D. website
Harold Koenigsberg, M.D. website
John Mann, M.D. website
Jeff Miller, M.D.
Jon Morgenstern, Ph.D.
Walter Mischel, Ph.D. website
James Murrough, M.D., Ph.D.
Nasir Naqvi, M.D., Ph.D. website
Barbara Stanley, Ph.D. website
Tor Wager, Ph.D. website