Lab News

New Paper – Predictive processing models and affective neuroscience

October 1, 2021

Our postdoc Kent Lee and colleagues discuss the implications of predictive processing models for: (i) experimental design, (ii) reverse inference, and (iii) ecological validity, in cognitive and affective neuroscience.

Lee, K. M., Ferreira-Santos, F., & Satpute, A. B. (2021). Predictive Processing Models and Affective Neuroscience. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.

Welcome new lab members!

September 9, 2021

We welcomed four new members into the lab this semester. Four undergraduate students, Paramjai Sandhu, Rosa Hamilton-Leak, Donnell Weldon, and Cassandra Stent-Torriani . We are very excited to have them join the lab! For more individual information, check out our People page.

Welcome new lab members!

July 6, 2021

We welcomed four new members into the lab this semester. Four undergraduate students, Serena Bejamin, Mariana Fonseca, Maria Harsvik, and Nasim Sheikhi. We are very excited to have them join the lab! For more individual information, check out our People page.

Welcome new lab member! 

June 1, 2021

We welcomed our new post-doctorate, Rose Cooper, this month. We are very excited to have her join the lab!  For more information about Rose, head over to our People page.

Now hiring a Research Technician!

May 11, 2021

The lab is currently hiring a Research Technician to work on an NSF-funded project with PIs Ajay Satpute and Lisa Feldman Barrett in the department of psychology. The project examines the behavioral, neural, and physiological correlates of affective processing. The position will involve human subjects recruitment for fMRI and peripheral physiology studies, data analysis, and general lab support. A BA/BS degree by the start date of the position is required. Prior experience conducting behavioral research is recommended. The start date is late summer (around 8/15/2021).

To apply, please use the online submission form:

Any informal inquiries with questions about the position can be directed to the lab email with a subject line that contains “Lab Technician”.

Now giving a Matlab Intro to Intermediate course!

May 11, 2021

Current graduate student Alessia Iancarelli is teaching a Matlab Intro to Intermediate course May – June to help those with minimal to no coding experience get their toes wet and gain a new skill! The course will remain small (15-20 people max), but if you’re interested, please email the lab email If the course fills up, but there is still interest, she may be open to teaching the course again in August – September.

You can see the materials on the Lab Courses page under Resources!

Welcome new lab members!

May 10, 2021

We welcomed four new members into the lab this semester. Four undergraduate students, Jvalanti Prasad, Sacha Sergent, Briana Murphy, and Danielle Russo. We are very excited to have them join the lab! For more individual information, check out our People page.

Winner of Northeastern’s RISE People’s Choice Award!

May 2021

Congratulations to our grad student Alessia and her two undergraduate RAs Rosie and Yueting (Alex) for winning Northeastern’s Research, Innovation, Scholarship and Entrepreneurship Expo (RISE) People’s Choice Award for the most liked project in social sciences, businesses, and law! They presented on the role of a perpetrator’s outcome in victim blaming.

Nandru, Rasvitha, Lu, Yueting, Iancarelli, A. (2021) What Happened to the Perpetrator? The Role of Perpetrator’s Outcome in Victim Blaming. Abstract. Video presentation

Check out the new section on our website, Lab Presentations!

April 16, 2021

We uploaded abstracts, posters, and video presentations from the last academic year (2020-2021)! Lab members have presented at the Society for Affective Science, Association for Psychological Science, New England Psychological Association, and more! To check them out, head over to our Lab Presentations page under Research.

New Paper – At the Neural Intersection Between Language and Emotion

March 22, 2021

What role does language play in emotion? Behavioral research shows that emotion words such as “anger” and “fear” alter emotion experience, but questions still remain about mechanism. Here, we review the neuroscience literature to examine whether neural processes associated with semantics are also involved in emotion.

Our review suggests that brain regions involved in the semantic processing of words: (i) are engaged during experiences of emotion, (ii) coordinate with brain regions involved in affect to create emotions, (iii) hold representational content for emotion, and (iv) may be necessary for constructing emotional experience. We relate these findings with respect to four theoretical relationships between language and emotion, which we refer to as “non-interactive,” “interactive,” “constitutive,” and “deterministic.

We conclude that findings are most consistent with the interactive and constitutive views with initial evidence suggestive of a constitutive view, in particular. We close with several future directions that may help test hypotheses of the constitutive view. Check out the full paper for more information.

Satpute, A. B., & Lindquist, K. L. (2021). At the neural intersection between language and emotion. Affective Science. DOI: 10.1007/s42761-021-00032-2.

New Paper – Neural Effects of Antidepressant Medication and Psychological Treatments: a Quantitative Synthesis Across Three Meta-Analyses

March 12, 2021

Check out this new article in the British Journal of Psychiatry! The study tested the convergence and divergence of antidepressant- and psychotherapy-evoked neural changes, and their overall with the brain’s affect network.

The researchers concluded that there are treatment-specific brain effects of both antidepressants and psychotherapy. Check out the full paper for more information.

Nord, C. L., Barrett, L. F., Lindquist, K. A., Ma, Y., Marwood, L., Satpute, A. B., & Dalgleish, T. (2021). Neural effects of antidepressant medication and psychological treatments: a quantitative synthesis across three meta-analyses. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 1-5.

New Paper – Comparing Supervised and Unsupervised Approaches to Emotion Categorization in the Human Brain, Body, and Subjective Experience

March 12, 2021

Check out this new article in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal! This study examines whether machine learning methods, which been a useful tool to map physical measurements to scientific categories, are suitable to investigate psychological categories, looked at in emotion science in this paper.

Using three emotion-based datasets, the researchers compare supervised (emotion labels) and unsupervised (no labels) to test this question. The study concludes with impressing the importance of questioning assumptions and the validity of using traditional labels when studying psychological categories. Check out the full paper here for more information.

Azari, B., Westlin, C., Satpute, A. B., Hutchinson, J. B., Kragel, P. A., Hoemann, K., … & Barrett, L. F. (2020). Comparing supervised and unsupervised approaches to emotion categorization in the human brain, body, and subjective experience. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-17.

Welcome new lab members!

January 2021

We welcomed four new members into the lab this semester. Four undergraduate students, Nihal Chaudhary, Rachel Feiner, Yueting Lu, and Alexandra Norce. We are very excited to have them join the lab! For more individual information, check out our People page.

Welcome new lab members!

October 2020

We welcomed two new members into the lab this semester. Two undergraduate students, Lauren Christenson and Abigail MacPherson. We are very excited to have them join the lab! For more individual information, check out our People page.

Welcome new lab member! 

September 2020

We welcomed our new lab manager, Stephanie Fiedler, this semester. We are very excited to have her join the lab!  For more information about Stephanie, head over to our People page.

Explaining the Panic around “Murder Hornets”

May 26, 2020

Lately, the news has been abuzz with concern about the appearance of Asian Giant Hornets, also known as “Murder Hornets,” in the US. However, murder hornets actually target bees, not humans. So why are people so afraid?

In this News at Northeastern article, Dr. Satpute explains the psychology at play. Linguistic cues in the news, contamination concerns primed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and fear of the unknown are among the factors contributing to the murder hornet panic.

Read the full article here for more information.

Lab Member Kent Lee Receives Fellowship Award!

May 19, 2020

Kent Lee was awarded the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (NRSA) from the National Institute of Mental Health to examine how
expectations and the threat-type shape how the brain responds to threatening stimuli. Congratulations, Kent!

Ivy attending NEU Masters in Counseling Psychology Program Next Year!

May 7, 2020

Current laboratory technician Ivy Chung has chosen to attend the Masters in Counseling Psychology at Northeastern University’s Bouvé college of Health Sciences.  This will make Ivy the Lab’s first but hopefully not last double husky (two Northeastern degrees). 

New Fall 2020 Graduate Student!

March 26, 2020

We are thrilled to announce that our current lab manager, Kieran McVeigh, will be coming back to the lab in Fall 2020 as a graduate student! We are very excited to continue working with Kieran in his new role. For more information about Kieran, head over to our People page.

New Paper – The Impact of Fear on Risk Taking

March 24, 2020

In psychological research, there is a general consensus that fear decreases risk taking. This belief influences politics, marketing, and even public health; but for years various studies have reported highly varying levels of this effect, or even a total absence of the effect.

In this paper, Sean Wake, our former lab manager, worked with Jolie Wormwood, PI of the Affective and Social Psychophysiology Lab at the University of New Hampshire, to conduct a meta-analysis using data from 50 papers, addressing a total of 136 effect sizes.

Ultimately, this research found that fear is related to decreased risk taking. However, the size of the fear’s effect on risk taking is highly variable across studies. Effect sizes are greater when studies use clinically anxious participants or when risk tasks involve tangible outcomes, but additional variance remains unexplained. Check out the full paper for more information.

Wake, S., Wormwood, J., & Satpute, A.B. (2020). The influence of fear on risk taking: a meta-analysis. Cognition and Emotion.


New Paper – Ultra High Field fMRI of Human Superior Colliculi Activity during Affective Visual Processing, January 2020

February 12, 2020

Check out this new article in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal! Research was conducted by Candice Wang (now at Duke University for graduate school) for her senior thesis, and in collaboration with Dr. Bianciardi’s Brain Stem Imaging Lab at the Martinos Center.

The study utilized high-resolution fMRI scanning to examine activity in the superior colliculus while subjects viewed either neutral or aversive images. Aversive images elicited stronger activity in the superior colliculus, suggesting that the region contributes to the shaping of subjective emotional experience.

Wang, Y.C., Bianciardi, M., Chanes, L., & Satpute, A. B. (2020). Ultra High Field fMRI of Human Superior Colliculi Activity during Affective Visual Processing. Scientific Reports 10:1331.

ABSLab Collaboration with MIND lab Featured in News At Northeastern

September 19, 2019

Check out the new article in News at Northeastern about our research examining Music Anhedonia.

The Default Mode Network’s Role in
Discrete Emotion Accepted at Trends in Cognitive Science

August 16, 2019

Check out Dr. Satpute’s new article The Default Mode Network’s Role in Discrete Emotion (link) in the October Issue of Trends in Cognitive science.  This article examines the default mode network’s role in emotional experience, reviewing neuro-imaging, lesion, and electrical stimulation studies, to suggest the default mode network is constitutive of discrete emotional experiences . Check out Box 1 from the article below describing how the default mode network helps map heterogenous experiences to the same emotion concept

ABS Lab recruiting undergraduate Research Assistants for Fall of 2019

Here at the Affective and Brain Sciences lab we are looking for undergraduate research assistants.  Undergraduate research assistants will learn about psychophysiology, neuroimaging, and behavioral analysis.  Interested undergraduate students should email, with a brief introduction, a CV (or resume), and two professional references (include phone numbers and emails!).

Society for Affective Science!

March 2019

Our very own lab member, Yiyu Wang, was selected to give a flash talk for her poster being presented at the 2019 Society of Affective Science Convention. Check out her article below!

Wang, Y., Boatman, G., & Satpute, A. B. (2019). Different varieties of fear engage distinct distributed neural activation patterns. Society for Affective Science Conference Abstracts

Welcome new lab members!

January 2019

We welcomed four new members into the lab this semester. A lab manager, Kieran McVeigh, a post-doctorate, Kent Lee, and two undergraduate students, Alia Newman-Boulle and Maya Sundel. We are very excited to have them join the lab! For more individual information, check out our People page.

Night at the Discovery Science Museum

December 2018

The ABS Lab took part in the Meet the Scientists & Engineers. The event was held at the Discovery Science Museum in Acton, MA. The event was in partnership with NSF funded Pacific Science Center Portal to the Public Network. We presented on the psychology and neuroscience of fear to adults and children attendees for one evening.


Welcome new lab members!

September 2018

We welcomed three new members into the lab this semester.  A graduate student, Yiyu Wang, and two undergraduate students, Aditi Lohe and Carmen Bango. We are very excited to have them join the lab! For more individual information, check out our People page.

ABS Lab receives funding from NCI

August 2018

The ABS Lab received a $3,400,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute to study fundamental subcortical mechanisms in affective processing.

Deconstructing arousal into wakeful, autonomic and affective varieties

January 31, 2018

In this article, we review neuroscience findings for three of the most common origins of arousal: wakeful arousal, autonomic arousal, and affective arousal. Our review makes two overarching points. First, research conducted primarily in non-human animals underscores the importance of several subcortical nuclei that contribute to various sources of arousal, motivating the need for an integrative framework. We outline an integrative neural reference space as a key first step in developing a more systematic understanding of central nervous system contributions to arousal. Second, there is a translational gap between research on non-human animals, which emphasizes subcortical nuclei, and research on humans using non-invasive neuroimaging techniques, which focuses more on gross anatomical characterizations of cortical (e.g. network architectures including the default mode network) and subcortical structures. We forecast the importance of high-field neuroimaging in bridging this gap to examine how the various networks within the neural reference space for arousal operate across varieties of arousal-related phenomena.

Satpute, A. B., Kragel, P. A., Barrett, L. F., Wager, T. D., & Bianciardi, M. (2018). Deconstructing arousal into wakeful, autonomic and affective varieties. Neuroscience Letters

Historical Pitfalls in Emotion Research

November 1, 2017

In this article, we offer a brief history summarizing the last century of neuroscientific study of emotion, highlighting dominant themes that run through various schools of thought. We then summarize the current state of the field, followed by six key points for scientific progress that are inspired by a multi-level constructivist theory of emotion

Barrett LF, Satpute AB (2017) Historical pitfalls and new directions in the neuroscience of emotion.

ABS Lab receives funding from NSF

August 2017

The ABS Lab received a $999,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the neural bases of subjective experience through probabilistic models.

Contextual Connectivity

July 26, 2017

Investigations of the human brain’s connectomic architecture have produced two alternative models: one describes the brain’s spatial structure in terms of static localized networks, and the other describes the brain’s temporal structure in terms of dynamic whole-brain states. Here, we used tools from connectivity dynamics to develop a synthesis that bridges these models. Using resting fMRI data, we investigated the assumptions undergirding current models of the human connectome. Consistent with state-based models, our results suggest that static localized networks are superordinate approximations of underlying dynamic states. Furthermore, each of these localized, dynamic connectivity states is associated with global changes in the whole-brain functional connectome. By nesting localized dynamic connectivity states within their whole-brain contexts, we demonstrate the relative temporal independence of brain networks. Our assay for functional autonomy of coordinated neural systems is broadly applicable, and our findings provide evidence of structure in temporal state dynamics that complements the well-described static spatial organization of the brain.

Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 9.29.53 AM

Ciric R, Nomi JS, Uddin LQ, Satpute AB (2017) Contextual connectivity: A framework for understanding the intrinsic dynamic architecture of large-scale functional brain networks. Scientific Reports 7:6537.