Sara Levens, PhD

Sara Levens, PhD
Associate Professor
Colvard 4033
Psychological Science
Research Interests: 
Emotion Executive control & working memory Neural & genetic mechanisms underlying emotion processing and cognition Adaptive and maladaptive behaviors and decisions fMRI, DTI, behavioral genetics, lesion research & behavioral methodologies My research examines emotion, executive control and decision making. In particular, I am tracking the emotion-cognition process-from underlying emotion processing and executive function interactions in working memory to downstream emotional decisions and behaviors. I utilize a range of methodologies including: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), behavioral genetics, lesion research, clinical populations, and standard behavioral research. I use the aforementioned methodologies with multiple samples of participants to gain a comprehensive understanding of the cognitive and biological mechanisms that underlie emotion processing, cognition and decision-making.   In one series of studies I administered working memory tasks with emotional stimuli to a range of participants including currently depressed individuals, recovered depressed individuals, individuals at risk for depression, never disordered controls from the community, college undergraduates and individuals with brain damage. This dataset has yielded an array of results that suggest that individual differences in executive control of emotional information may promote both protective and maladaptive biases that may subsequently underlie the ability to effectively regulate affect.