THE PHELPS LAB investigates human learning and memory and its relation to emotion.

The primary inspiration behind our 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, we aim to both enhance our understanding of cognition broadly and provide insights into social processes and psychological disorders. 

To address this topic, the lab uses a Human Neuroscience approach, combining insights from sub-disciplines of psychology and neuroscience to understand the mind and brain.  Along these lines, we try to let the questions drive our research, not the techniques or traditional definitions of research areas. We have used a number of techniques (behavioral studies, physiological measurements, hormone assays, pharmacology, microbiome assays, brain-lesion studies, functional magnetic resonance imaging, computational modeling) and have worked with a number of collaborators in different domains (social, clinical, and cognitive psychologists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists, neurologists, economists, physicists, computational neuroscientists).   It is our hope that having focused questions and a broad approach to answering these questions enhances both the research quality and the relevance and appeal of our work.



Elizabeth Phelps
Pershing Square Professor of Human Neuroscience


General Inquiries:

Dr. Phelps

Northwest Lab Building
52 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138


Harvard Department of Psychology
Harvard Center for Brain Science