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Kevin Ochsner
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1998

General Area of Research

Social cognitive neuroscience approaches to emotion and its regulation, self control, & person perception.

Current Research

The social cognitive neuroscience lab asks questions about topics traditionally of interest to social psychologists (such as emotion regulation, self knowledge, and person perception) using techniques traditionally employed by cognitive neuroscientists (such as fMRI). Our approach integrates the theories and methods of each discipline to understand the psychological and neural bases of social, self-reflective, and emotional behavior.

One line of research uses fMRI to ask what mechanisms underlie our ability to change the way we feel by changing the way we think about the meaning of our experiences. In multiple studies we have found that this ability, known as reappraisal, depends upon interactions between prefrontal control systems that implement reappraisal stratgies and emotional appraisal systems, such as the amygdala, that generate affective responses. Current work examines the specific nature of these interactions as we think about emotional events in different ways.

A second line of research uses fMRI to examine the mechanisms we use to understand either our own or other people's emotions, attributes, and intentions. We have recently found that these two abilities depend upon both common and distinct processes used to analyze the meaning of first-person experience and third person observations.

(For more complete description of these and other research projects please visit the Lab Site.)

Relevant Publications

Ochsner, K. N., & Gross, J. J. (2005). The cognitive control of emotion. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(5), 242-249.

Ochsner, K. N., Knierim, K., Ludlow, D., Hanelin, J., Ramachandran, T., & Mackey, S. (2004). Reflecting upon feelings: An fMRI study of neural systems supporting the attribution of emotion to self and other. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 16(10), 1746-1772.

Ochsner, K. N., Ray, R. D., Robertson, E.R., Cooper, J. C., Chopra, S., Gabrieli, J.D.E., and Gross, J.J. (2004). For beter or for worse: Neural Systems Supporting the Cognitive Down- and Up-regulation of Negative Emotion. Neuroimage, 23 (2), 483-499.

Ochsner, K. N. (2004). Current Directions in Social Cognitive Neuroscience. Current Opinion Neurobiology, 14, 254-258.

Courses Frequently Taught

  • PSYC W3680 Seminar on Social Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSYC W4415 Methods and Issues in Cognitive Neuroscience (an introduction to fMRI methods and techniques)
Kevin Ochsner Photo

Columbia University
Psychology Dept.
369 Schermerhorn Ext
1190 Amsterdam Avenue MC:5501
New York, NY 10027

Phone: 212-851-9348
Fax: 212-854-3609

Last modified on July 14, 2015