The Stollstorff Lab studies the neurobiological bases for individual differences in the way we think and feel (cognition & emotion), using a general framework: genes to brain to behavior. Genes that influence neurotransmitter function (e.g., DAT1/dopamine, 5-HTTLPR/serotonin, BDNF) can relate to differences in functional brain activation (e.g., in prefrontal cortex, striatum, amygdala) and in turn, to individual differences in cognition/emotion/behavior (e.g., executive function, reasoning bias, emotional reactivity). Environmental context is an important player in the way our genes influence our behavior. Individuals can respond sometimes in opposite ways, depending on how their genes interact with the specific contextual demands.
The lab’s underlying theme is cognitive control (the ability to maintain and manipulate information towards a goal). Lines of investigation stemming from this theme include: ADHD, emotional regulation, and deductive reasoning bias (see PROJECTS). What role do genes play in the modulation of emotion-cognition interaction? How do genes influence response to treatment in children with ADHD, who often struggle with cognitive control? How do genes that relate to cognitive control contribute to biases in logical reasoning, and how could this interaction influence the brain during legal decisions, especially under highly emotional circumstances? Using the combination of behavioral, fMRI, genetic and pharmacological techniques, the Stollstorff Lab studies both healthy adults, adolescents and children and those with neuropsychological disorders to answer these questions.