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., Goff, B., Gabard-Durnam, L., Gee, D.G., Fareri, D.S., Caldera, C., & Tottenham, N. (2017). Vigilance, the amygdala, and anxiety in youth with a history of institutional care. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 2, 493-501. PDF

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. (2016). Previous institutionalization is followed by broader amygdala-hippocampal-PFC network connectivity during aversive learning in human developmentJournal of Neuroscience, 36(24), 6420-6430. PDF


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:

Guassi Moreira, J.F., McLaughlin, K.A., & Silvers, J.A. (September 18, 2019). Characterizing the network architecture of emotion regulation neurodevelopment. bioRxiv. PDF

Guassi Moreira, J.F., McLaughlin, K.A., Silvers, J.A. (2019). Spatial and temporal cortical variability track with age and affective experience during emotion regulation in youthDevelopmental Psychology, 55(9), 1921-1937. PDF

Martin, R.E., Silvers, J.A., Hardi, F., Stephano, T., Helion, C., Insel, C., Franz, P.J., Ninova, E., Lander, J.P., Mischel, W., Casey, B.J. & Ochsner, K.N. (2019). Longitudinal changes in brain structures related to appetitive reactivity and regulation across developmentDevelopmental Cognitive NeurosciencePDF

Guassi Moreira, J.F. & Silvers, J.A. (2018). Emotion Regulation A Matter of Time. P.M. Cole & T. Hollenstein (Eds.), Burlington, MA: Taylor & Francis. PDF

Guassi Moreira, J.F., Parkinson, C., & Silvers, J.A. (September 21, 2017). Performance and belief-based emotion regulation capacity and tendency: Mapping links with cognitive flexibility and perceived stressPsyArXiv. PDF

Silvers, J.A., Insel, C., Powers, A., Franz, P., Helion, C., Martin, R.E., Weber, J., Casey, B.J., Mischel, W., & Ochsner, K.N. (2017). vlPFC-vmPFC-amygdala interactions underlie age-related differences in cognitive regulation of emotion. Cerebral Cortex, 27(7), 3502-3514 PDF

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 adulthoodDevelopmental Science, 18(5): 771-784. PDF

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 adultsPsychological Science, 25(10), 1932-1941. PDF

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. PDF


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.

Example publications:

Guassi Moreira, J.F., Tashjian, S.M., Galván, A., & Silvers, J.A. (February 9, 2019). Social decision making is consistent across domains and within individualsPsyArXiv. PDF

Guassi Moreira, J.F., Tashjian, S.M., Galván, A., & Silvers, J.A. (2018). Parents versus peers: Assessing the impact of social agents on decision making in young adulthood. Psychological Science, 29(9), 1526-1539. PDF


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., Guassi Moreira, J.F. (2019). Capacity and tendency: A neuroscientific framework for the study of emotion regulationNeuroscience Letters, 693, 35-39. PDF

Silvers, J.A., Hubbard, A.D., Biggs, E., Shu, J., Fertuck, E., Chaudhury, S., Grunebaum, M.F., Weber, J., Kober, H., Chesin, M., Brodsky, B.S., Koenigsberg, H., Ochsner, K.N., Stanley, B. (2016). Affective lability and difficulties with regulation are differentially associated with amygdala and prefrontal response in women with Borderline Personality Disorder. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 254, 74-82. PDF

Silvers, J.A., Hubbard, A.D., Chaudhury, S., Biggs, E., Shu, J., Grunebaum, M.F., Fertuck, E., Weber, J., Kober, H., Brodsky, B.S., Chesin, M., Ochsner, K.N., & Stanley, B. (2016). Suicide attempters with Borderline Personality Disorder show differential orbitofrontal and parietal recruitment when reflecting on aversive memories. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 81, 71-78. PDF

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 adultsPsychological Science, 25(10), 1932-1941. PDF

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. PDF

[Pre-print] Guassi Moreira, J.F., Parkinson, C., & Silvers, J.A. (September 21, 2017). Emotion regulation capacity and tendency: Mapping links with cognitive flexibility and perceived stress. PsyArXiv. PDF