All Publications

  • Acute stress and episodic memory retrieval: neurobiological mechanisms and behavioral consequences YEAR IN COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE Gagnon, S. A., Wagner, A. D. 2016; 1369: 55-75


    Episodic retrieval allows people to access memories from the past to guide current thoughts and decisions. In many real-world situations, retrieval occurs under conditions of acute stress, either elicited by the retrieval task or driven by other, unrelated concerns. Memory under such conditions may be hindered, as acute stress initiates a cascade of neuromodulatory changes that can impair episodic retrieval. Here, we review emerging evidence showing that dissociable stress systems interact over time, influencing neural function. In addition to the adverse effects of stress on hippocampal-dependent retrieval, we consider how stress biases attention and prefrontal cortical function, which could further affect controlled retrieval processes. Finally, we consider recent data indicating that stress at retrieval increases activity in a network of brain regions that enable reflexive, rapid responding to upcoming threats, while transiently taking offline regions supporting flexible, goal-directed thinking. Given the ubiquity of episodic memory retrieval in everyday life, it is critical to understand the theoretical and applied implications of acute stress. The present review highlights the progress that has been made, along with important open questions.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/nyas.12996

    View details for Web of Science ID 000376588900004

    View details for PubMedID 26799371

  • Where did it come from, where do you go? Direction sources influence navigation decisions during spatial uncertainty QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY Brunye, T. T., Gagnon, S. A., Gardony, A. L., Gopal, N., Holmes, A., Taylor, H. A., Tenbrink, T. 2015; 68 (3): 585-607


    Previous research on route directions largely considers the case when a knowledgeable route-giver conveys accurate information. In the real world, however, route information is sometimes inaccurate, and directions can lead navigators astray. We explored how participants respond to route directions containing ambiguities between landmarks and turn directions, forcing reliance on one or the other. In three experiments, participants read route directions (e.g., To get to the metro station, take a right at the pharmacy) and then selected from destinations on a map. Critically, in half of the trials the landmark (pharmacy) and turn (right) directions were conflicting, such that the participant had to make a decision under conditions of uncertainty; under these conditions, we measured whether participants preferentially relied upon landmark- versus direction-based strategies. Across the three experiments, participants were either provided no information regarding the source of directions (Experiment 1), or told that the source of directions was a GPS device (Experiment 2), or a human (Experiment 3). Without information regarding the source of directions, participants generally relied on landmarks or turn information under conditions of ambiguity; in contrast, with a GPS source participants relied primarily on turn information, and with a human source on landmark information. Results were robust across gender and individual differences in spatial preference. We discuss these results within the context of spatial decision-making theory and consider implications for the design and development of landmark-inclusive navigation systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/17470218.2014.963131

    View details for Web of Science ID 000349472400011

    View details for PubMedID 25285995

  • Acute exercise increases oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin in the prefrontal cortex NEUROREPORT Giles, G. E., Brunye, T. T., Eddy, M. D., Mahoney, C. R., Gagnon, S. A., Taylor, H. A., Kanarek, R. B. 2014; 25 (16): 1320-1325
  • Living the high life: social status influences real estate decision making JOURNAL OF APPLIED SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Tower-Richardi, S. M., Brunye, T. T., Gagnon, S. A., Mahoney, C. R., Taylor, H. A. 2014; 44 (9): 611-621

    View details for DOI 10.1111/jasp.12253

    View details for Web of Science ID 000341772200004

  • Happiness by association: Breadth of free association influences affective states COGNITION Brunye, T. T., Gagnon, S. A., Paczynski, M., Shenhav, A., Mahoney, C. R., Taylor, H. A. 2013; 127 (1): 93-98


    Several studies have demonstrated that affective states influence the number of associations formed between remotely related concepts. Someone in a neutral or negative affective state might draw the association between cold and hot, whereas someone in a positive affective state might spontaneously form the more distant association between cold and sneeze. Could the reverse be true, that generating increasingly broad or narrow associations will put someone in a more or less positive affective state? We test this possibility by using verbal free association tasks, and asking whether the breadth of semantic associativity between cue words and generated responses might predict resulting affective states. Two experiments show that generating broader associations, regardless of their valence, changes affect; specifically, broader associations lowered negative affect and marginally increased positive affect over time. These findings carry implications for theories positing interactions between brain areas mediating associative processing and affect, and may hold promise for enhancing affect in clinical contexts.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.11.015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000316589100009

    View details for PubMedID 23376294

  • Abstract spatial concept priming dynamically influences real-world actions FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY Tower-Richardi, S. M., Brunye, T. T., Gagnon, S. A., Mahoney, C. R., Taylor, H. A. 2012; 3