Lab Members



Derek Mitchell, PhD, Lab Director

cropped picture DM





Joana Vieira, Postdoctoral Fellow

lab website 2 My research aims to characterize the neural mechanisms implicated in basic emotional processes (e.g. fear), and how disruptions in those mechanisms give rise to abnormal patterns of social functioning. I am particularly interested in understanding the emotional and empathic deficits associated with psychopathy and antisocial behaviour.  I am the recipient of a BMI Cognitive Neuroscience fellowship and will start a CIHR Postdoctoral fellowship in the Fall.

Tamara Tavares, PhD Candidate 

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Broadly, my research is focused on social cognitive processing in clinical and healthy populations. I am currently investigating the neural correlates of emotional processing and decision making deficits in patients with Frontotemporal Dementia and individuals who are at-risk for developing this disorder. Furthermore, I am interested in investigating impaired emotional processing in children and youth with behavioural disorders and the influence of mood on emotion-cognition interactions. I am also a recipient of the NSERC CGS-Doctoral award.

Mary Ritchie, PhD Candidate

Mary_Website.jpgIn a broad sense, I am interested in delineating the cognitive abnormalities that increase risk for antisocial behaviour. My research aims to investigate the role of social cognition and empathic traits (e.g., callous traits) in aggressive and impulsive behaviour among psychopathic individuals, as well as youth with behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorders. Within these populations, I am also interested in exploring abnormalities in emotion perception and expression. I am a recipient of the SSHRC CGS-Doctoral award.

Stephen Pierzchajlo, MSc Candidate

Picture1I am interested in the functional connectivity and neuroanatomical correlates of emotional processes and emotion regulation. I am also interested in the application of different neuromodulatory techniques to investigate questions about neurocognitive processes and neuropsychiatric disorders. Currently I am investigating the effects of emotional distractors on attentional abilities and how they manifest behaviourally, as well as how these distractors are correlated with brain activity.

Shannon Compton, MSc Candidate

SCompton.jpgI am interested in investigating the neural mechanisms involved in cognitive and emotional processing. I am also interested in the neural substrates of behavioural and social dysfunction, particularly within the aging population. Currently, I am investigating methods to improve stimulus realism by contrasting the impact of two- and three-dimensional emotive stimuli on affective responding, perception, and attention.


Undergraduate Research Associates

Minha Yoon                                                                                Ian Jones

minha picture 2.jpeg                                               ian picture.jpg

Undergraduate Volunteers

Susan Zhang

Jessica Jung

Selina Dong

Sandra Soliman

Marwan Syed

Lab alumni

Lindsay Oliver, PhD

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My research is focused on social cognition and emotional processing in patients with frontotemporal dementia and the healthy population. I am particularly interested in function and dysfunction in empathic responding, and delineating and characterizing behavioural and neural correlates of different facets of empathy, and emotional processing. I am also a recipient of the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex Doctoral Award and Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology. Lindsay is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, supervised by Dr. Aristotle Voineskos.

James Kryklywy, PhD 

informal_jkMy research considers how emotional information is represented within neurocognitive systems involved in sensory processing, how this information is incorporated into perceptual experience, and how this information impacts interaction with the immediate environment. I am particularly interested in the dissociable effects of emotional salience on the representation of spatial- and object-related information. I am the recipient of an NSERC Postgraduate Graduate Scholarship -Doctoral (PGS). James is currently a postdoctoral fellow at University of British Columbia, supervised by Dr. Rebecca Todd.

Steven Greening, PhD

Steven is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Louisiana State University, where he is the Principal Investigator of the Cognitive Neuroscience of Affect and Psychopathology Lab.

Undergraduate volunteers

Siobhan Schenk

Gabrielle Brook


Current Lines of Research

The Impact of Emotion on Cognition and Human Performance 

Emotion has a tremendous impact on our behaviour, sometimes enhancing performance, but other times contributing to human error in dangerous contexts. In addition, emerging work suggests that some thought processes and behaviours are remarkably resilient to emotional contexts. The effect that emotion has on brain and behaviour seems to depend on a number of factors that are poorly understood. The goal of this line of research is to determine how the human brain prioritizes and controls the influence of emotional information and stress to optimize behavioural and cognitive performance. In addition, we identify factors and mechanisms associated with optimizing performance in emotionally charged environments. The work has implications for designing instruments and operating panels for equipment used in stressful environments (e.g., emergency response and defence), and for training and selecting personnel that use this equipment.

Individual differences in empathy and social cognition in the general population 

Even among healthy, typically developing people, individual differences in empathic processes can have a significant impact on social and occupational functioning. What is becoming increasingly clear is that low trait empathy is one of the strongest predictors of aggression and antisocial behaviour. This line of research aims to advance knowledge about how individual differences in distinct subtypes of empathy interact with other cognitive and situational factors to govern social behaviour in healthy adults. Ultimately, it will help identify factors that increase or reduce empathic responding in people, and provide clues about how current practices in education, the media, and entertainment might affect the development of prosocial and antisocial behaviours.

Modulating empathy in disorders featuring clinically significant levels of social dysfunction

The long-term goals of this line of research is to: a) delineate the neurobiological abnormalities associated with empathic disorders that increase the risk for violence or other antisocial behaviours; and b) use this knowledge together with the tools of cognitive neuroscience to help identify and test newly emerging diagnostic, preventative, and therapeutic measures for empathic disorders. Using neuroimaging and behavioural techniques, we are currently examining novel pharmacological and behavioural interventions to increase psychosocial functioning in patients with frontotemporal dementia, a disorder with pronounced empathy impairments. We are also examining whether new behavioural techniques, derived from recent advances in fundamental cognitive neuroscience work, can increase indices of empathic responding in youth with severe behavioural difficulties at both a neural and behavioural level.

Our publication list


The labs publications are listed by year and alphabetically by title

Note: The articles with ** before the title are open access


**Vieira, J.B., Tavares, T.P., Marsh, A.A., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2016). Emotion and personal space: neural correlates of approach-avoidance tendencies to different facial expressions as a function of coldhearted psychopathic traits. Human Brain Mapping, 38(3): 1492-1506.

Vargas, E.R., Mitchell, D.G.V., Greening, S.G., & Wahl, L.M. (2016). Network analysis of human fMRI data suggests modular restructuring after simulated acquired brain injury. Medical and Biological Engineering and Computing,  54(1): 235-248.

**Burhan, A.M., Anazodo, U., Chung, J.K., Arena, A., Graff-Guerrero, A., and Mitchell, D.G.V. (2016). The Effect of Task-Irrelevant Fearful-Face Distractor on Working Memory Processing in Mild Cognitive Impairment versus Healthy Controls: An Exploratory fMRI Study in Female Participants. Behavioural Neurology, 2016: 1-13.

Roach, V.A., Fraser, G.M., Kryklywy, J., Mitchell, D.G.V., & Wilson, T.D. (2016). The eye of the beholder: Can patterns in eye movement reveal aptitudes for spatial reasoning?  Anatomical Sciences Education, 9(4): 357-366.

**Tavares, T.P., Logie, K., Mitchell, D.G.V. (2016). Opposing effects of perpetual versus working memory load on emotional distraction. Experimental Brain Research, 234(10): 2945-2956.


Greening, S.G. & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2015). A network of amygdala connections predict individual differences in trait anxiety. Human Brain Mapping, 36(12): 4819-4830.

Oliver, L.D., Mao, A., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2015). Blindsight and subjective awareness of fearful faces: Inversion reverses the deficits in fear perception associated with core psychopathic traits. Published in Cognition and Emotion, 29(7): 1256-1277.

Gawronski, B., Mitchell, D.G.V., & Balas, R. (2015). Is evaluative conditioning really uncontrollable? A comparative test of three emotion-focused strategies to prevent the acquisition of conditioned preferences. Emotion, 15(5): 556-568.

Oliver, L.D., Mitchell, D.G.V., Dziobek, I., MacKinley, J., Coleman, K., Rankin, K.P., Finger, E.C. (2015). Parsing cognitive and emotional empathy deficits for negative and positive stimuli in frontotemporal dementia. Neuropsychoelogia, 67: 14-26.


Kryklywy, J.H. & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2014). Emotion modulates allocentric but not egocentric stimulus localization: implications for dual visual systems perspectives. Experimental Brain Research, 232(12): 3719-3726.

Greening, S.G., Norton, L., Virani, K., Ambrose, T., Mitchell, D.G.V., Finger, E.C. (2014). Individual differences in the anterior insula are associated with the likelihood of financially helping versus harming others. Cognitive, Affective and Behavioural Neuroscience, 14(1): 266-277

Oliver, L.D., Virani, K., Finger, E.C., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2014). Is the emotion recognition deficit associated with frontotemporal dementia caused by selective inattention to diagnostic facial features? Neuropsychoelogia, 60, 84-92

Finger, E., MacKinley, J., Blair, M., Oliver, L., Jesso, S., Tartaglia, C., Borrie, M., Wells, J., Dzboziak, I., Pasternak, S., Mitchell, D., Rankin, K., Kertesz, A., & Boxer, A., (2015). Intranasal oxytocin for symptom treatment in frontotemporal dementia: A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled dose-finding study of safety and tolerability. Neurology, 84(2): 174-181.

Gawronski, B. & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2014). Simultaneous conditioning of valence and arousal. Cognition and Emotion, 28(4): 577-595

Greening, S.G., Osuch, E.A., Williamson, P.C. & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2014). The neural correlates of regulating positive and negative emotions in medication-free major depression. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,  9(5): 628-637

Vargas, E.R., Mitchell, D.G.V., Greening, S.G., & Wahl, L.M. (2014). Topology of whole-brain functional MRI networks: Improving the truncated scale-free model. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and it is Applications, 405, 151-158

**Ford, K.A., Wammes, M., Neufeld, R., Mitchell, D., Theberge, J., Williamson, P., & Osuch, E. (2014). Unique functional abnormalities in youth with combined marijuana use and depression: An fMRI study. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 5(130): 1-11


Kryklywy, J.H., Macpherson, E.A., Greening, S.G., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2013). Emotion modulates activity in the ‘what’ but not ‘where’ auditory processing pathway. NeuroImage,  82, 295-305                     

Greening, S.G., Osuch, E.A., Williamson, P.C. & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2013). Emotion-related brain activity to conflicting socio-emotional cues in unmedicated depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 150(3): 1136-41

**Virani, K., Jesso, S.,  Kertesz, A., Mitchell, D.G., Finger, E.C. (2013). The functional neural correlates of emotional expression processing deficits in behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 38(3): 174-182

Kryklywy, J.H., Nantes, S.G., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2013). The amygdala encodes level of perceived fear but not emotional ambiguity in visual scenes. Behavioural Brain Research, 252:396-404


Mitchell, D.G.V. & Greening, S.G. (2012). Conscious perception of emotional stimuli: Brain mechanisms. The Neuroscientist, 18:4, 386-398

Han, T., Alders, G., Greening, S.G., Neufeld, R.W., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2012). Do fearful eyes activate empathy-related brain regions in individuals with callous traits? Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 7:8, 958-968


Greening, S.G., Finger, E.C., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2011). Parsing decision making processes in prefrontal cortex: Response inhibition, overcoming learned avoidance, and reversal learning. NeuroImage, 54(2), 1432-1441

Jesso, S., Morlog, D., Ross, S., Pell, M.D., Pasternak, S., Mitchell, D.G.V., Kertesz, A., & Finger, E.C. (2011). The effects of oxytocin on social cognition and behaviour in frontotemporal dementia. Brain, 134, 2493-2501

Mitchell, D.G.V. (2011). The nexus between decision making and emotion regulation: A review of convergent neurocognitive substrates. Behavioural Brain Research, 217, 215-231


Rich, B.A., Brotman, M.A., Dickstein, D., Mitchell, D.G.V., Blair, R.J.R., & Leibenluft, E. (2010). Deficits in attention to emotional stimuli distinguish youth with severe mood dysregulation from youth with bipolar disorder. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38(5), 695-706

Amting J.M., Greening S.G., Mitchell D.G.V. (2010). Multiple mechanisms of consciousness: The neural correlates of emotional awareness. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(30), 10039-47


Mitchell, D.G.V., Luo, Q., Avny, S.B., Kasprzycki, T., Gupta, K., Chen, G., Finger, E.C., Blair, R.J.R. (2009). Adapting to dynamic stimulus-response values: Differential contributions of inferior frontal, dorsomedial, and dorsolateral regions of prefrontal cortex to decision making. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(35), 10827-10834

Amting, J.M., Miller, J.E., Chow, M., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2009). Getting mixed messages: The impact of conflicting social signals on the brain’s target emotional response. NeuroImage, 47, 1950-1959

Smith, B.W., Mitchell, D.G.V., Hardin, M.G., Jazbec, S., Fridberg, D., Blair, R.J.R., Ernst, M. (2009). Neural substrates of reward magnitude, probability, and risk during a wheel of fortune decision-making task. NeuroImage, 44(2) 600-609

Blair, R.J.R. & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2009). Psychopathy, attention and emotion. Psychological Medicine, 39(4), 543-555

**Luo, Q., Mitchell, D.G.V., Cheng, X., Mondillo, K., Mccaffrey, D., Holroyd, T., Carver, F., Coppolar, R., & Blair, R.J.R. (2009). Visual awareness, emotion, and gamma band synchronization. Cerebral Cortex, 19, 1896-1904


Finger, E.C., Marsh, A.A., Mitchell, D.G.V., Reid, M.E., Sims, C., Budhani, S., Kosson, D.S., Chen, G., Towbin, K.E., Leibenluft, E., Pine, D.S., & Blair, R.J.R. (2008). Abnormal ventromedial prefrontal cortex function in children with psychopathic traits during reversal learning. Archives of General Psychiatry, 65(5), 586-594

Finger, E.C., Mitchell, D.G.V., Jones, M., & Blair, R.J.R. (2008). Dissociable roles of medial orbitofrontal cortex in human operant extinction learning. NeuroImage, 43(4), 748-755

Marsh, A.A., Finger, E.C., Mitchell, D.G.V, Reid, M.E., Sims, C., Kosson, D.S., Towbin, K.E., Leibenluft, E., Pine, D.S., & Blair, R.J.R. (2008). Reduced amygdala response to fearful expressions in children and adolescents with callous-unemotional traits and disruptive behavior disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 165(6), 712-720

Mitchell, D.G.V., Richell, R.A., Pine, D., & Blair, RJ.R. (2008). The contribution of ventrolateral and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to response reversal. Behavioural Brain Research, 11, 187(1), 80-87

Mitchell, D.G.V., Luo, J., Vythilingham, M., Finger, E., & Blair, R.J.R. (2008). The interference of operant task performance by emotional distracters: An antagonistic relationship between the amygdala and frontoparietal cortices. NeuroImage, 40, 859-868


Vythilingam, M., Blair, K.S., McCaffrey, D., Scaramozza, D., Jones, M., Nakic, M., Mondillo, K., Hadd, K., Bonne, O., Mitchell, D.G.V., Pine, D.S., Charney, D.S., & Blair, R.J.R. (2007). Biased emotional attention in post-traumatic stress disorder: A help as well as a hindrance? Psychological Medicine, 37(10), 1445-1455

Luo, Q., Mitchell, D.G.V., Jones, M., Mondillo, K., Vythilingam, M., & Blair, R.J.R. (2007). Common regions of dorsal anterior cingulate and prefrontal-parietal cortices provide attentional control of distracters varying in emotionality and visibility. NeuroImage, 38(8), 631-639

Blair, K.S., Smith, B.W., Mitchell, D.G.V., Morton, J., Vythilingam, M., Pessoa, L., Fridberg, D., Zametkin, A., Sturman, D., Nelson, E.E., Drevets, W.C., Pine, D.S., Martin, A., Blair, R.J.R. (2007). Modulation of emotion by cognition and cognition by emotion. NeuroImage, 35, 430-440

Mitchell, D.G.V., Nakic, M., Pine, D.S, & Blair, R.J.R. (2007). The impact of processing load on emotion. NeuroImage, 34, 1299-1309


Finger, E. C., Marsh, A. A., Kamel, N., Mitchell, D.G.V., & Blair, R.J.R. (2006). Caught in the act: The impact of audience on the neural response to morally and socially inappropriate behaviour. NeuroImage, 33, 414-421

Blair, K.S., Mitchell, D.G.V., Richell, R.A., Morton, J., & Blair, R.J.R. (2006). Differentiating among prefrontal substrates in psychopathy: Neuropsychological test findings. Neuropsychology, 20. 153-165

Mitchell, D.G.V., Avny, S.B., & Blair, R.J.R. (2006). Divergent patterns of aggressive and neurocognitive characteristics in acquired versus developmental psychopathy. Neurocase, 12, 164-178

King, J.A., Blair, R.J.R., Mitchell, D.G.V., Dolan, R., & Burgess, N. (2006). Doing the right thing: A common neural circuit for appropriate violent or compassionate behaviour. NeuroImage, 30, 1069-1076

Mitchell, D.G.V, Richell, R. A., Leonard, A., & Blair, R. J. (2006). Emotion at the expense of cognition: Psychopathic individuals outperform controls on an operant response task. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 115, 559-566

Mitchell, D.G.V., Fine, C., Richell, R.A., Newman, C., Lumsden, J., Blair, K.S., & Blair, R.J.R. (2006). Instrumental learning and relearning in individuals with psychopathy and in patients with lesions involving the amygdala or orbitofrontal cortex. Neuropsychology, 20(3), 280-289

Blair, K. S., Richell, R. A., Mitchell, D. G., Leonard, A., Morton, J., & Blair, R. J. (2006). They know the words, but not the music: Affective and semantic priming in individuals with psychopathy. Biological Psychology, 73(2), 114-123

Blair, R.J.R., Peschardt, K.S., Budhani, S., Mitchell, D.G.V., & Pine, D.S. (2006). The development of psychopathy. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 47, 262-276


Blair, R.J.R., Mitchell, D.G.V., & Peschardt, K.S. The Psychopath Emotion and the Brain. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005 

Richell, R.A., Mitchell, D.G.V., Peschardt, K.S., Winston, J.S., Leonard, A., Dolan, R.J., & Blair, R.J.R. (2005). Trust and distrust: The perception of trustworthiness of faces in psychopathic and non-psychopathic offenders. Personality and Individual Differences, 38(8), 1735-1744


Blair, R.J.R., Mitchell, D.G.V., Leonard, A., Peschardt, K.S., & Newman, C. (2004). Passive avoidance learning in individuals with psychopathy: Modulation by reward but not by punishment. Personality and Individual Difference, 37(6), 1179-1192

Herve, H., Mitchell, D., Cooper, B.S., Spidel, A., & Hare, R.D. (2004). Psychopathy and unlawful confinement: An examination of perpetrator and event characteristics. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 36(2), 137-145

Blair, R.J.R., Mitchell, D.G.V., Peschardt, K.S., Colledge, E., Leonard, R.A., Shine, J.H., Murray, L.K., & Perrett, D.I. (2004). Reduced sensitivity to others’ fearful expressions in psychopathic individuals. Personality and Individual Differences, 37(6), 1111-1122


Richell, R.A., Mitchell, D.G.V., Newman, C., Leonard, A., Baron-Cohen, S., & Blair, R.J.R. (2003). Theory of mind and psychopathy: Can psychopathic individuals read the ‘language of the eyes’? Neuropsychoelogia, 41(5), 523-526


Mitchell, D.G.V., Colledge, E., Leonard, A., & Blair, R.J.R. (2002). Risky decisions and response reversal: Is there evidence of orbitofrontal cortex dysfunction in psychopathic individuals? Neuropsychoelogia, 40, 2013-2022

Blair, R.J.R., Mitchell, D.G.V., Richell, R.A., Kelly, S., Leonard, A., Newman, C., & Scott, S.K. (2002). Turning a deaf ear to fear: Impaired recognition of vocal affect in psychopathic individuals. Journal of Abnormal Psychology,  111, 682-686


Blair, R.J.R., Colledge, E., Murray, L., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2001). A selective impairment in the processing of sad and fearful expressions in children with psychopathic tendencies. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 29(6), 491-498

Blair, R.J.R., Colledge, E., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2001). Somatic markers and response reversal: Is there orbitofrontal cortex dysfunction in boys with psychopathic tendencies? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 29(6), 499-511

2000 and before

**Mitchell, D.G.V., & Blair, R.J.R. (2000). State of the art: Psychopathy. The Psychologist, 13, 356-360 

Rachman, S., Shafran, R., Mitchell, D., Trant, J., & Teachman, B. (1996). How to remain neutral: An experimental analysis of neutralization. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 34, 889-898 (1996)