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Laboratory of Neuropsychology


Elisabeth A. (Betsy) Murray, Ph.D. | Senior Investigator, Chief, Laboratory of Neuropsychology and Chief, Section on the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
Dr. Murray received her B.S. in Biology from Bucknell University and her Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The research of her Section explores the neural substrates of learning, memory, decision making and emotion. To that end, the research employs a variety of methods, including behavioral analysis before and after selective brain lesions or temporary inactivations, structural and functional neuroimaging, neuroanatomical tract-tracing, and neurophysiological recordings.

Ben Basile, Ph.D. | Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Basile received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Emory University. He studies memory and social cognition. With his studies of memory, he answers questions about metamemory, recollection, rehearsal, and different types of cognitive control. With his studies of social cognition, he answers questions about when and how primates find social situations vicariously rewarding. He primarily uses behavioral manipulations to thoroughly map the psychology of these cognitive processes, and then combines this with selective excitotoxic lesions, or temporary inactivations, to causally identify the underlying brain areas. This research helps us answer fundamental questions about the evolution of primate cognition and the function of different areas of the primate brain.

Ping-yu Chen, B.S. | Biologist
Ping-yu received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from the Pingtung Institute of Agriculture, Taiwan. Before joining the NIMH, Ping-yu worked as a research assistant in neurobiology laboratories at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX and Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC. Ping-yu is currently studying the connections between temporal lobe structures and frontal cortex, and the routes of the fiber pathways connecting them.

Aaron Dean, B.A. | Post Baccalaureate Fellow
Aaron is a graduate of the University of Vermont with a B.A. in psychology. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, pharmacological manipulations and visual reward-learning tasks, Aaron investigates the role and functional organization of brain areas involved in reward processing and decision making.

Jaewon Hwang, Ph.D. | Staff Scientist
Dr. Hwang graduated from Seoul National University with a degree in psychology and received his Ph.D. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Rochester. He is interested in the neural mechanisms of higher cognitive processes and has investigated multisensory integration, temporal reward discounting and self-control in the frontal lobe with neurophysiological methods. He is currently studying orbitofrontal cortex contributions to autonomic responses during Pavlovian learning and writing software for behavioral control.

Chloe Karaskiewicz, B.S. | Post Baccalaureate Fellow
Chloe received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Chloe is studying the role of the amygdala in familiarity memory, the predictive value of MRI for in vivo ibotenic lesion assessment, and the processes of social decision-making.

Peter Kaskan, Ph.D. | Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Kaskan received his Bachelor’s degree from Clark University and went on to study at Cornell University and RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Tokyo, Japan, before earning his Ph.D. in Psychology from Vanderbilt University. He is interested in the pathways and processes that lead from sensation to action. Dr. Kaskan uses functional magnetic resonance imaging combined with inactivations of cortical and subcortical regions to delineate how reward processing networks contribute to evaluative and decision making processes. It is expected that a better understanding of the functional interactions of the frontal cortex, amygdala, and striatum will shed light on the underlying causes of mood and anxiety disorders, and provide direction for potential treatments. 

Marvin Leathers, Ph.D. | Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Leathers received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh where he worked with Carl Olson in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, a joint program with Carnegie Mellon University. There, he studied representations of value and salience in the brain using single-unit recordings from neurons of the lateral intraparietal area (LIP) and amygdala. He joined the Section on the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory to study neuronal mechanisms of outcome-value updating and decision-making in orbitofrontal cortex.

Dawn Lundgren, B.S. | Biologist
Dawn received her B.S. degree in Zoology from George Washington University. Dawn collects and analyzes data from a variety of behavioral assessments. In addition, she instructs new staff in the methods and procedures used by the section in behavioral studies. Current projects involve the contributions of orbitofrontal cortex and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex to learning and decision making.

Emily Moylan, B.A. | Psychologist
Emily graduated from the State University of New York at Geneseo with a B.A. in Psychology. She collects and analyzes data from a variety of task-based experiments. In addition, Emily instructs new staff in the methods and technologies used by the section in behavioral studies. Current projects address how abstract concepts are linked to reward.

Mark Nicholas, B.S. | Post Baccalaureate Fellow
Mark received his undergraduate education in neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University. Working in the Kuhlman Lab, he studied the functional impact of inhibition on cortical processing using 2-photon guided cell attached electrophysiology and optogenetics in the visual cortex. He is currently using fMRI to study the selective contributions of different frontal cortical areas to decision making, reward processing and emotion.

Pam Noble, M.S., M.B.A. | Psychologist
Pam received her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Psychology from the University of Arizona. She went on to earn an M.S. in Psychology and an M.B.A. While working at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and later at NIMH, Pam used behavioral and endocrine assessments to study the neurobiological basis of social dysfunction. Currently, she is using eye-tracking technology to investigate the role of the orbitofrontal cortex in learning and memory.