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Food for Thought

The College of Science psychology program works to explore the deepest inner workings of our brains and uncover why we do what we do.

Whatever you do, don’t think about oranges.

Don’t think about their round shape, their bright, textured skin, and their aromatic sweet smell. Just don’t.

So you thought of an orange — and that’s ok. We know it’s hard not to precisely because that’s what our brain is built for: rapidly processing and translating stimuli from our five senses into information, thoughts, and impressions of the world around us. In microseconds, we weigh all of this against what we know, what we think we know, what we feel, and what we have experienced.

Given a certain set of variables, the study of psychology then becomes about understanding and predicting what factors might correspond to thoughts and behavior.

From understanding how a certain customer demographic will respond to commercials, to the ways in which children develop a code of ethics, to yes, even why you thought about oranges after you were told not to, we’re here to help you think about the “why” behind how your brain thinks.

Diversity & Inclusion

The Department of Psychology at Northeastern University is a community of scholars committed to cultivating a culture of inclusion, equity, respect and connectedness. We can develop a more equitable and inclusive psychological science when we encourage a diversity of thought, culture, and viewpoint, which are essential to lifelong learning. Diversity encompasses individuals from any group or identity that has traditionally been marginalized in the academy, in particular in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Action Plan:

  1. Increase the diversity of the department at all levels
    1. Ensure that every faculty search and graduate student recruitment process maximizes the diversity of the pool of candidates.
    2. Promote STEM across the entire undergraduate community, including psychology and non-psychology majors.
  2. Ensure that issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion remain central in all departmental activities.
    1. Examples: student awards, colloquia/career spotlights, service assignments, communications about diversity education and training events on campus, departmental newsletter.
  3. Support the inclusion of diverse sources of scholarship in syllabi and coursework, ensuring that a wide diversity of perspectives in psychological science are visible and discussed in all courses.
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Faculty Labs & Research

Developmental Neuropsychobiology Laboratory
Dr. Brenhouse’s lab studies the dynamic interaction between the brain, the body, and the environment throughout early life and adolescent development. Using animal models with genetic, behavioral, and pharmacological manipulation, her laboratory investigates why later manifestation of mental illn..
Aggression Lab
Dr. Melloni studies the neurobiology of aggressive behavior. The main goal of this research is to understand how drug use and exposure to social stress during adolescence alter brain development and influence aggressive behavior.
Laboratory of Neuroanatomy and Behavior
Stress-related mental illnesses like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) are twice as common in women, but relevant pre-clinical research on the mechanisms of stress and fear has primarily been conducted in male animals. Our work explores the relationships betw..
Neurotransmission and Brain Plasticity Lab
The Neurotransmission and Brain Plasticity Lab studies how exposure to cocaine (and other psychostimulants including methamphetamine) during pregnancy affects neuronal interactions in the fetus throughout development.
Language and Mind Lab
The Language & Mind Lab studies how the mind works and how we (laypeople) think it does, concentrating on the concept of innate knowledge.
Conceptual Organization, Reasoning, and Education Laboratory (CORE Lab)
The CORE lab seeks to answer questions about basic cognitive processes like conceptual organization, reasoning, and conceptual development.
The CESAR lab works on the computational modeling of human behavior, both as a basic research method in the study of human behavior as well as the use of these computational models in a range of education and analysis applications.
Whitfield-Gabrieli Lab
Professor Whitfield-Gabrieli’s primary mission is to understand the brain basis of psychiatric disorders and to promote translation of this knowledge into clinical practice.
Translational Vision Lab
The Translational Vision Lab uses cross-disciplinary approaches to study basic and clinical vision science. Their basic visual neuroscience research aims to extend models of sensory processing from laboratory settings to real world conditions.
Social Emotions Lab
Dr. DeSteno’s research focuses on the role of emotion in social cognition and behavior.
Lifespan Emotional Development Lab (LEDlab)
The Lifespan Emotional Development Lab (LEDlab) investigates the links between attention and emotion throughout the adult lifespan.
Vision Lab
The Vision Laboratory employs psychophysical and computational methods to better understand visual perception.
Neuroanatomy and Behavior Lab
Our work explores the relationships between neural structure and function when both males and females experience aversive events, using behavioral and neuroanatomical techniques to identify sex-specific mechanisms of stress-induced plasticity.
Computational Vision Lab
The Computational Vision Laboratory conducts psychophysical and computational modeling studies of many aspects of visual perception.
Affective and Brain Sciences Lab
Research in his lab focuses on two main areas. The first area examines the neural basis of affect including pleasure and pain, emotion (e.g. fear), and interactions between affect/emotion with cognition. The second area examines large-scale computational architectures of the brain with the goa..
Work at the CTNI is focused on four major areas 1) Alzheimer’s disease, 2) Parkinson’s disease 3) repetitive mild traumatic brain injury, and 4) opioid addiction. Preclinical animal models for each of these problems in human health are studied using non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging to fo..
Denise Jackson's Lab
The primary focus of Dr. Jackson’s research is on how exposure to cocaine (and other psychostimulants including methamphetamine) during pregnancy affects neuronal interactions in the fetus throughout development. We utilize neurochemical and behavioral strategies to assess alterations in brain ar..
Center for Cognitive and Brain Health
The Center investigates the effects of lifestyle choices and health behaviors (e.g., physical activity, diet) and their physiological sequelae (e.g., fitness, adiposity) on brain and cognition. From a neuroimaging perspective, the researchers’ interests lie in understanding how health influences ..
Center for Translational NeuroImaging
The Center for Translational NeuroImaging (CTNI) brings to the Northeastern campus state-of-the-art technology and expertise in the area of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) with the purpose of understanding the central nervous system in health and disease. High-field MRI offers the potential to vis..
Learning and Brain Development Lab
How do we use information we have learned? Does the way people learn and apply knowledge change across development? In the Learning and Brain Development lab, we investigate the development of brain systems for different ways of learning during adolescence, and the impact of learning on memory, dec..
Plasticity in Neurodevelopment Lab
The Plasticity in Neurodevelopment (PINE) Lab explores how different environments and neuroplasticity interact to shape brain and behavior development. We are interested in how typical environment-neuroplasticity interactions support healthy development, as well as how adverse environments or atypi..
The Kwon Lab for Low Vision and Brain Research
Welcome to the Kwon Lab for Low Vision and Brain research! Our lab is based in the Department of Psychology at Northeastern University. The central theme of research in our lab is to understand how people with visual impairment see and recognize the world around them. To this end, we study how the ..
Subjectivity Lab
Our work focuses on understanding the subjective point of view of the mind: How we perceive the world around us, how the brain creates conscious experiences, and how introspection opens a window into our own minds. With an interdisciplinary approach that integrates tools from psychology, neuroscien..
Language Acquisition and Brain Laboratory
The Language Acquisition and Brain Lab (QLAB), directed by Dr. Zhenghan Qi, is dedicated to studying the brain organization of language development. We use a variety of behavioral and neuroimaging techniques such as eye-tracking, EEG, and MRI. We investigate how the neural organization for language..
Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory
This laboratory studies emotions what they are, and how they work. Their research uses experiential, behavioral, psychophysiological, and brain-imaging techniques. The IASL is located at Northeastern University, with a secondary site at Mass General Hospital.
Brain Game Center for Mental Fitness and Well-being
Led by Dr. Aaron Seitz, our lab strive to improve your brain’s fitness. We research, test, and disseminate evidence-based, scientifically optimized brain fitness games that assist you in real life with memory, vision, hearing, learning, and more. We have a track record of making our tested proced..
Working Memory & Plasticity Lab
Led by Dr. Susanne Jaeggi, our lab's mission lies in the development of working memory interventions with the aim that participants not only improve their working memory skills, but also general skills that go beyond the trained domain. By means of behavioral and neuroimaging methods, we seek ..
Belonging and Social Identities Lab
The Belonging and Social Identities Lab (BASIL) seeks to: 1) produce high quality, impactful, reproducible research that advances understanding on the topics of identity, self-concept, discrimination, and health for understudied populations, particularly people who hold two identities simultaneousl..
Sustainability and Social Change Lab
The Sustainability and Social Change Lab focuses on interdisciplinary research topics including social and environmental policy and decision-making, understanding the interplay between individual, institutional and ecological factors on perceptions, policy preferences and resilience to extreme even..
Reid Lab
Led by Dr. Brie Reid, PhD, we study how climate stress, environmental stressors, water insecurity, metal exposures, climate-change induced food insecurity can impact human development through prenatal/postnatal stress physiology and nutrient mechanisms.
Psychology of Misinformation Lab
Led by Briony Swire-Thompson, the Psychology of Misinformation Lab studies why people believe in misinformation, why people share misinformation online, and how corrections can be designed to foster belief change.

Interested in our graduate programs?

The Minds Behind COS Psychology
Faculty Spotlight
Ajay Satpute
Research in the Satpute lab focuses on two main areas: the neural basis of affect including pleasure and pain, emotion (e.g. fear), and interactions between affect/emotion with cognition.
Lisa Feldman Barrett
Current projects focus on understanding the psychological construction of emotion, age, and disease-related changes in affective circuitry within the human brain, how language and context influence emotion perception, how affect influences vision, and sex differences in emotion.
David DeSteno
DeSteno’s research centers on the impact affective states have on decision making and behavior. Current projects focus on the effects of emotions on several types of social judgment as well as on behaviors fundamental to social living.

Psychology at Northeastern

Psychology at Northeastern

Interested in working with us?

Co-Op Experiences

Co-op is a cornerstone program for Northeastern University, and this department is home to a variety of co-op opportunities for students. From real-world settings such as Boston hospitals, conducting research in labs both on or off campus, working in these spaces allows students to gauge their likes and dislikes about different psychology careers before making a commitment.
Aliyah Jackson
You’re with us! Disability mentoring co-op expands inclusivity.
Meet Aliyah
Ned Gold
“First of all, I came to Northeastern University because of the co-op program. Co-op gave me the hands-on clinical and research experience I so craved and needed, allowing me to figure out whether my mental goals were on point in reality.``
Rebecca Conway
The Science (and co-ops) Behind Boston Beer.
Meet Rebecca
Jolaade Okanlawon - Center Support Teacher at Bright Horizons
“During my co-op, I really loved being able to provide positive guidance to all of the children at the center in order to augment their self-esteem as well as to encourage good behavior. Ever since my co-op came to an end, I realized that I had a preference for interacting with the toddlers at the center. This has made me more aware of the fact that if I were to pursue Speech-Language Pathology as a career then I would definitely specialize in Early Intervention.”
Ian Brenckle - Research co-op in the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Lab
“I had previously done a co-op at another cognitive science lab, leading me to believe that working at the IASL would be more of the same. While some surface features remain, the experience I have thus far received at the IASL is significantly different, and no less valuable than that from other placements. Overall, the experience has been enlightening, and most of all fun. I foresee that some of the skills, both technical and professional, that I learn here will be invaluable in the world of active research.”

Degree Options

Interested in our undergraduate programs?
Plan your journey to graduate school with resources from the Psychology Graduate School Mentoring Program
Coursework and Requirements
A sampling of the types of courses you could take here.
Cross-Cultural Psychology
PSYC 2370

Introduces students to the role of culture in psychological science. Discusses the relationship of culture to psychological theories and research.

Drugs and Behavior
PSYC 1250

Offers beginning students a general overview of the effects of drug use/abuse in many segments of society with particular attention placed on the collegiate population.

Psychology and the Law
PSYC 1208

Introduces the range of topics that are of concern both to psychologists and to members of the legal profession. Covers the legal and ethical issues inherent in the conduct and process of professional psychology.


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