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Elizabeth Phelps received her PhD from Princeton University and served on the faculty of Yale University and New York University. Professor Phelps is the recipient of the 21st Century Scientist Award from the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Social and Affective Neuroscience Society, and the William James Award from the Association for Psychological Science. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Experimental Psychology, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Association for Psychological Science, the Society for Neuroeconomics, and was a founding board member of the Society for Neuroethics. She has previously served as President of the Society for Neuroeconomics, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Social and Affective Neuroscience Society.
The primary inspiration behind Professor Phelps’ research is the observation that emotions color our lives, and even subtle, everyday variations in our emotional experience can alter our thoughts and actions. By uncovering the impact of emotion and affect on cognition, she aims to both enhance our understanding of cognition broadly and provide insights into social processes and psychological disorders. Current research in the lab explores three related questions. First, how is it that we learn about potential threats, and how can we effectively update this learning in a dynamic environment? Second, how do our emotions alter what we remember? Third, how are our decisions and actions changed by our affective states and emotions? To address these questions, Professor Phelps uses a human neuroscience approach which combines a range of scientific methodologies, including: behavioral studies, physiological measurements, hormone assays, pharmacology, brain-lesion studies, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and computational modeling.