Fairfield Professor Named “Rising Star” by the Association for Psychological Science

Fairfield Professor Named "Rising Star" by the Association for Psychological Science

Photo of Jessica M Karanian, PhD

Jessica M Karanian '12, PhD

Jessica M Karanian '12, PhD, assistant professor of cognitive neuroscience in the Department of Psychology, has been honored with a prestigious “Rising Star” distinction by the Association for Psychological Science.

The Association for Psychological Science (APS) presents "Rising Star" designations to outstanding APS members in the earliest stages of their post-PhD research career. Jessica M Karanian, PhD was nominated for the award by two fellows of the APS society, then an elected review committee completed the selection process to grant the annual award.

Dr. Karanian, a 2012 alumna of Fairfield University, earned her doctorate in cognitive neuroscience from Boston College in 2017, and was hired by Fairfield in 2019 alongside the launch of a new behavioral neuroscience major in the College of Arts and Sciences.

In Dr. Karanian’s cognitive neuroscience laboratory at the University, she investigates the manner in which true and false memories are constructed using a variety of cognitive neuroscience methods, behavioral paradigms, and physiological measures.

She hopes to apply theoretical understanding of memory construction to both protect the integrity and improve the quality of human memory in real-world contexts. For instance, Dr. Karanian’s recent work focuses on eyewitness memory and how it can be improved.

The first in a series of work funded by the National Science Foundation, Dr. Karanian’s most recent publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences focused on research that reveals that false eyewitness reports have contributed to approximately 70 percent of wrongful convictions in the U.S.

“One way that eyewitness memory can be distorted is through exposure to misleading information — the misinformation effect,” Dr. Karanian said.  “Our work shows that providing individuals with a simple warning about the threat of misinformation significantly reduces the misinformation effect, regardless of whether warnings are provided proactively or retroactively.  In the brain, this protective effect of warning is associated with increased reactivation of sensory regions associated with the original event and decreased reactivation of sensory regions associated with the misleading information.”

Dr. Karanian has authored 13 peer-reviewed publications and more than 40 conference presentations. She recently served as a co-editor for a special issue on “Acute Stress, Memory, and the Brain” at Brain and Cognition. Her most recent work, titled “Protecting Memory From Misinformation: Warnings Modulate Cortical Reinstatement During Memory Retrieval,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and featured on Neuroscience News.

Dr. Karanian has mentored more than 20 undergraduate and graduate-level students, and her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, Association for Psychological Science, and American Psychological Association.

Learn more about the Psychology Department at Fairfield University in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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