Skip to content

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. | Research 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
Ms. Chen received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from the Pingtung Institute of Agriculture, Taiwan. Before joining the NIMH, she 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. Ms. Chen is currently studying the connections between temporal lobe structures and frontal cortex, and the routes of the fiber pathways connecting them.

Nicole Ciesinski, B.A. | Post Baccalaureate Fellow
Ms. Ciesinski received her B.A. in Psychology from Emory University. She studies the roles of prefrontal brain regions, the amygdala, and their functional interactions in value-based decision-making, social valuation, emotional responding and reward learning in rhesus macaques.

Brian R. Coleman, B.S., M.S. | Biologist
Mr. Coleman received his B.S. in Biology from Pennsylvania State University and a M.S. in Physiology from Georgetown University. He studies the role of the medial frontal cortex in spatial learning and decision making, as well as learning-related changes in the microstructure of the fornix as measured with diffusion-weighted imaging.

Estefanía I. González-Araya | Post Baccalaureate Fellow
Ms. González-Araya received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Metropolitan University of Puerto Rico. Working in the Quirk Lab (University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus) she studied the effects of deep-brain stimulation in the orbitofrontal cortex of a PTSD animal model. She is currently studying orbitofrontal cortex contributions to autonomic responses in learning and memory using eye-tracking behavioral measures.

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.

Dawn Lundgren, B.S. | Biologist
Ms. Lundgren received her B.S. degree in Zoology from George Washington University. She 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.

Pam Noble, M.S., M.B.A. | Psychologist
Ms. Noble received her B.A. 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, she 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.

Maia Pujara | Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Pujara received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She studies orbitofrontal cortex function in the context of decision-making, emotion regulation, and social cognition. She is also interested in the functional interactions between prefrontal structures and subcortical structures (e.g., amygdala and striatum). To identify the causal contributions of these brain areas, she uses behavioral measures combined with selective excitotoxic lesions. She is also interested in employing functional neuroimaging concurrent with brain lesions to identify the circuit dynamics responsible for sustaining normative cognition in the domains of interest. This research will drive our understanding about the function of different areas of the primate brain and provide translative models of neural circuit dysfunction in psychiatric disorders.

Jamie Schafroth | Post Baccalaureate Fellow
Ms. Schafroth received her B.A. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Grinnell College. Broadly, her research interests include emotional processing and social cognition. Ms. Schafroth is studying the role of the amygdala in familiarity memory, the effects of anterior cingulate cortex and amygdala lesions in viewing social and biologically relevant stimuli, and the processes of social decision making.