Postdoctoral Research Associates
My research focuses primarily on the acquisition and effective implementation of emotion understanding and emotion regulation strategies in childhood and adolescence. More specifically, I am interested in how life stress (e.g., poverty, negative life events) may impact the development of individual differences in emotional control and coherent affective processes. My current research includes a longitudinal examination of neural, physiological, and cognitive development through childhood and adolescence with particular emphasis on the development of internalizing symptoms/disorders.
Brandi's primary research interests focus on the positive qualities of emotion: what they are, how they function in the body and the mind, and how they are cultivated. More specifically, she is engaged in the study of the forgiveness process. Brandi's current research includes examination of neural, physiological and cognitive indices of forgiveness behaviors. She also has an interest in examining individual differences, cultural dynamics of forgiveness and physiological processes in ethnic minority populations.
Broadly speaking, I am interested in the fields of contemplative, affective and cognitive neuroscience. In particular, I am interested in studying both the short and long-term effects of mental training designed to improve well-being, prosocial behavior, and mindfulness in both adults and adolescents. I believe that video games can be a wonderful tool for providing such training to adolescents. Therefore I am currently focused on studying the effects of games designed for training and improving well-being. I am interested in using functional brain imaging to assay the neural effects of this mental training.
My research focuses on using statistical methods to gain insight into the nosology and etiology of mental illness (especially mood, anxiety, and eating disorders) from self-report, genetic, and imaging data.
I studied psychology in France and Canada. While doing my master's in neuroscience in the Netherlands I discovered a strong interest in the study of emotion. During my doctoral training and postdoc at the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences and the University of Geneva, I studied the neural activity associated with the perception and mimicry of facial expressions, as well as those linked to voluntary emotion regulation. I received funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation to come to Madison, where I am investigating, under the supervision of Drs. Niedenthal and Davidson, the neural correlates of voluntary and spontaneous facial mimicry. I use a variety of techniques, such as EEG, EMG, fMRI, and TMS. When not working, I enjoy traveling, skiing and hiking in the mountains, playing ultimate frisbee, and recovering from ultimate-related injuries.
I am currently running a study on emotional information processing in anxiety and depression using functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, and a variety of self-report and peripheral psychophysiology measures. My work has focused largely on studying worry and Generalized Anxiety Disorder using psychophysiological methods including electroencephalography, transcranial magnetic stimulation with electromyography, pupillography, and heart rate variability. In the future, I hope to further study treatment effects in psychiatric populations using fMRI as well as to pursue an interest in emotion regulation especially in clinically anxious and/or depressed patients. In addition to my research activities, I see patients for psychotherapy at the Wisconsin Psychiatric Institute of UW.
My work is dedicated to understanding the behavioral and neural correlates of learning and emotion in persons with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Currently, I am involved in projects that examine developmental maturation of white matter tracts in the brains of both individuals with ASD and individuals with typical development. My hope is that this research will help us better understand how changes in brain structure across the lifespan affect learning and emotion.