News and Research Coverage

For more lab news, check out our lab Facebook page

Lab Member Recent Awards and Milestones, March, 2015
We've had lots of great news in the past few months. Shawn Nielsen received an NRSA postdoctoral fellowship, Steven Greening received an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship, and Philipp Opitz was selected for a postdoctoral position on the USC Multidisciplinary Research Training Grant. Tae-Ho Lee defended his dissertation and David Clewett received the Neuroscience Student of the Year Award. We received an R21 grant to follow up on Alexandra Ycaza's dissertation work. Steven Greening accepted an assistant professor position at Louisiana State University and former lab member Nichole Lighthall accepted an assistant professor position at University of Central Florida. Former lab member Sarah Barber has had a particularly busy past few months, receiving an NIH grant, starting her assistant professor position at San Francisco State University, and having a baby. Congratulations everyone!

US News & World Report, November, 2013
Estrogen After Menopause May Blunt Stress' Effects on Memory;
see also HRT could help help prevent embarrassing 'senior moments' when the pressure is on
Alexandra Ycaza said her findings suggest estrogen helps protect the brain from the effects of stress.

APS Observer, September, 2013
Ageism: Alive and kicking
Stereotype threat can improve performance in some cases, report Sarah Barber, a postdoctoral researcher, and Mara Mather, professor of gerontology and psychology at the University of Southern California.

USC Dornsife, September, 2013
Doctoral students presented summer research projects in social neuroscience
"We know first-hand that motivational incentives, such as the reward of a chocolate bar or the punishment of missing a party, can promote effective learning, said David Clewett, a USC Dornsife doctoral student in neuroscience. "This process appears to be driven by an increase in arousal, which improves our ability to focus on the things we care about. Since mental resources are limited, an extra boost of arousal helps ensure that valuable information is even more likely to be remembered, while distractions are even more likely to be forgotten."

Medical Daily, July, 2013
When stereotype threat can improve older adults' memory performance
Barber and Mather's in-press Psychological Science paper shows that stereotype threat can actually improve older adults' memories if the task is framed as avoiding losses.

Frontiers, April, 2013
The special issue on "The Impact of Emotion on Cognition -- Dissociating between Enhancing and Impairing Effects" edited by Florin Dolcos, Mara Mather and Lihong Wang and published jointly in Frontiers in Emotion Science and Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience was awarded a 'Popularity Award' as this special issue is one of the most accessed Frontiers Research Topics.

March, 2012
Allison Foertsch, a first-year student in Gerontology, and Bruna Martins, a first-year student in the Clinical Science program in Psychology, both received National Science Foundation Graduate fellowships. Congratulations Allie and Bruna!

Allie & Bruna

Time, March 2012
Decision-Making Under Stress
A new review shows that acute stress affects the way the brain considers pros and cons.

Scientific American Mind, January/February 2012
Emotion Selectively Distorts Our Recollections: Feelings Edit and Sculpt Memories
How can we explain emotional tunnel vision? "Countless stimuli vie for your notice, says Mara Mather of the University of Southern California. What wins out might be something eye-catching or startling, or it might be something you are deliberately trying to focus on, such as a phone call, while consciously screening out distractions. Emotions magnify this effect, intensifying the attention-snagging properties of a stimulus."

AARP, January 2012
Should Decisions Go Her Way... or His?
Stressed men tend to move quickly, especially to obtain rewards--such as earning money on investments--whereas stressed women tend to take their time, a new study from the University of Southern California finds. Lead researcher Nichole Lighthall says, "Men and women in our studies made decisions in a similar way under nonstressed conditions--they differed significantly only under stress."

APA, November 2010
Mara Mather receives APA Award for Distinguished Early Career Scientific Contribution to Psychology
PDF of citation and biography.

Scientific American, November 2010
Older but Not Wiser? The Psychology Behind Seniors' Susceptibility to Scams
New studies help explain why, despite having more experience, senior citizens often make unprofitable financial choices.

LiveScience, October 2010
Stress Brings Out the Difference in Male, Female Brains
A new study finds that when men under stress looked at angry faces, they seemed to disengage, at least according to brain scans showing lower activity in brain areas responsible for processing other people's emotions and facial expressions. In contrast, stressed-out women showed more activity in those brain regions.

USC Gerontology, August 2010
The Science of Emotion
Kaoru Nashiro, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate, earned an APA Division 20 award for her research.

APS Observer, July 2010
Under Pressure: Stress and Decision Making
We make decisions all the time, and many of those decisions are made under stressful conditions. Gaining a better understanding of how stress affects decision making is critical not only for psychological science, but has important, real-world implications.

UK Daily Mail, July 2009
How stress can make a man reckless
Nichole Lighthall found sex differences in how men and women make decisions under stress.

USC News, May 2009
Mara Mather Wins Award for Career Development
Mara Mather, associate professor of gerontology and psychology, has received a K02 award from the National Institutes of Health.

Psychology Today, February 2009
Stress decreases risk-taking in older adults
A paper by Mara Mather, Marissa Gorlick, and Nichole Lighthall in the February, 2009 issue of Psychological Science examined how risk-taking behavior was affected by stress both for young adults (between 18 and 33) and older adults (over 65).