Areas of Research

1. Effects of Early Adverse Social Experiences on Emotional Development

Our experiences in the first few years of life exert a disproportionate influence on brain development and subsequent social and emotional behavior. We are currently conducting longitudinal behavioral and fMRI research to examine the effects of early adversity, including international orphanage care, on emotional development.

Example publications:

Silvers, J.A., Lumian, D.S., Gabard-Durnam, L., Gee, D.G., Goff, B., Fareri, D.S., Caldera, C., Flannery, J., Telzer, E.H., Humphreys, K.L. & Tottenham, N. (in press). Previous institutionalization is followed by broader amygdala-hippocampal-PFC network connectivity during aversive in during human development. Journal of Neuroscience.


2. Development of Emotion Regulation

Our emotions give our lives meaning, but sometimes they can get the best of us. We use a combination of behavioral (questionnaires, observation, and computer tasks) and neuroimaging techniques like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine how children, adolescents and adults can use cognitive strategies to take control of their emotions.

Example publications:

Silvers, J.A., Insel, C., Powers, A., Franz, P., Helion, C., Weber, J., Casey, B.J., Mischel, W., & Ochsner, K.N. (in press). vlPFC-vmPFC-amygdala interactions underlie age-related differences in cognitive regulation of emotion. Cerebral Cortex.

Silvers, J.A., Shu, J., Hubbard, A.D., Weber, J., & Ochsner, K.N. (2015). Concurrent and lasting effects of emotion regulation on amygdala response in adolescence and young adulthood. Developmental Science, 18(5): 771-784.

Silvers, J.A., Insel, C., Powers, A., Franz, P., Casey, B.J., Mischel, W., & Ochsner, K.N. (2014). Curbing craving: Behavioral and brain evidence that children regulate craving when instructed to do so but have higher baseline craving than adults. Psychological Science, 25(10), 1932-1941.

Silvers, J.A., McRae, K., Gabrieli, J.D.E., Gross, J.J., Remy, Katherine A., & Ochsner, K.N. (2012). Age-related differences in emotional reactivity, regulation and social rejection in development. Emotion, 12(6), 1235-1247.


3. Social influences on emotion

We humans are social creatures and our relationships with our friends and family have significant effects on our emotional experiences. However, relatively little is known about how our parents, partners and peers influence our emotions at the level of the brain. We are currently conducting a series of laboratory and neuroimaging studies to examine how other people shape our decision making and change the way we interpret risky, rewarding and stressful experiences.


4. Emotion Regulation in Physical and Mental Health

The ability to manage our emotions is critical for physical and emotional health. Although our research participants are primarily healthy children, adolescents and adults, we strive to link normal inter-individual variability (e.g., differences in body mass and trait anxiety) to emotion regulation processes and to translate this work to clinical populations (e.g., individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder).

Example publications:

Silvers, J.A., McRae, K., Gabrieli, J.D.E., Gross, J.J., Remy, Katherine A., & Ochsner, K.N. (2012). Age-related differences in emotional reactivity, regulation and social rejection in development. Emotion, 12(6), 1235-1247.