Study: Facial expressions evolved from optical needs
The near-opposite facial expressions of fear and disgust are rooted in emotional responses that exploit how our eyes gather and focus light to detect an unknown threat, found a study by Cornell neuroscientist, Adam Anderson.
Low-income home strife drives earlier teen sex
Environmental influences – rather than genetic propensities – are more important in predicting the age when adolescents from stressful backgrounds become sexually active, reports a recent study by Jane Mendle.
Adapted arthritis program boosts participation
Enhancing an arthritis program’s content and delivery with help from community partners improved program attendance, while maintaining the same physical and mental health benefits as the original, reports a recent study by Cary Reid and Karl Pillemer.
Child abuse and neglect rise with income inequality
Income inequality increases the risk of child abuse and neglect according to a nationwide study by John Eckenrode and colleagues.
Book highlights memory’s role as social glue
Memory’s crucial impact on our ability to establish and maintain social bonds is the focus of Nathan Spreng’s new book.
New institute focuses on human brain research
The new Human Neuroscience Institute in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, directed by Valerie Reyna, aims to advance research on the neural basis of human behavior.
Study: Ads can influence ‘smart’ false memories
Consumers who have a propensity to think more about decisions produce more false memories than those who process information at a more superficial level found a new study by Charles Brainerd and colleagues.
  New project to explore natural mentoring
Steve Hamilton has received funding from the William T. Grant Foundation for a study that aims to improve our understanding of natural mentoring relationships.
Young ‘pranksters’ skewed landmark sexuality study
A widely cited study in the mid-1990s appears to have misrepresented the number of homosexual and bisexual youth potentially because questions were answered incorrectly either on purpose or through misunderstanding, according to Ritch Savin-Williams.

Students in the News

Hooking up for the ‘wrong reasons’ tied to poorer health
College students’ intentions for engaging in casual sex influence how it affects their mental and physical health, reports a recent study by graduate student Zhana Vrangalova.

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‘Neurodinners’ offer smorgasbord of research ideas

The time is now to bring the fight to dementia

Ten money lessons from elderly Americans

Kids may suffer in gap between haves and have-nots

The ironic adverse effects of expertise

New Resources

Study reveals origins of facial expressions
Sternberg on culture, intelligence and education
Minority youth see science as a ticket up


Robert Sternberg joins Human Development’s faculty
Psychologist Robert J. Sternberg has been appointed professor of human development at the College of Human Ecology, effective Feb. 1.
Two neuroscientists join Human Development’s faculty
Last fall, the department of Human Development welcomed two more neuroscience researchers, husband and wife Adam Anderson and Eve DeRosa, from the University of Toronto.
Book debuts brain models of risky decision-making
Valerie Reyna’s new book aims to help us understand the neural roots of bad decisions, synthesizing the research and introducing new models of brain function to explain and predict risky behavior.
Sex abuse triggers early puberty and its problems
Sexually abused girls reach puberty before other girls, a new study by Jane Mendle finds, and early puberty increases their risk of having emotional problems.
Age changes how young children read social cues
When learning from adults, children use social cues to figure out what actions are important, but they read these cues differently depending on their age reports a study by Tamar Kushnir.
Scars of childhood poverty found in adult brain scans
The chronic stress of childhood poverty can trigger physical changes that have lifelong psychological effects, a study of adult brains by Gary Evans has shown.
Genes predispose some people to focus on the negative
Some people are genetically predisposed to see the world darkly, according to a study by Adam Anderson.
Study: Mom’s favorite child tends to stay the same
Similarities in personal values and beliefs between an adult child and an older mother keeps that child in favor over the long-term, and that preference can have implications for mothers’ long-term care, reports a new study by Karl Pillemer.

Students in the News

New project aims to engage youth in neuroscience
Students in Reyna’s lab are working on a new initiative to translate her research into hands-on activities for teaching middle-school youth about the brain, health, and science.

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A window into the brain
We all start out as scientists, but some of us forget
Growing up in poverty could affect brain functioning In adulthood

New Resources

HD faculty discuss neuroscience
Juries and neuroscience expert evidence
The self in time and culture – book talk
Sexual fluidity of men and women
Diverse brains: Difference is not always a deficit
Decision quality and cognitive processing
Demographics: sexual health
Gender and sexual health series


Book Talk: The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making. February 10, 2014 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm, Mann Library, room 160.


Experts explore roots of healthy aging
Researchers gathered on campus Oct. 3-4 for the Fourth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference, “New Developments in Aging, Emotion and Health” to better understand the interplay between emotions and health across the lifespan.
Breakthrough discerns normal memory loss from disease
A new method for analyzing data from simple memory tests reliably distinguishes memory declines associated with healthy aging from the more-serious memory disorders years before obvious symptoms emerge.
Memory-related brain network shrinks with aging
Research by Nathan Spreng find that brain regions associated with memory shrink as adults age, and this size decrease is more pronounced in those who go on to develop neurodegenerative disease.
Life purpose buffers bad moods triggered by diversity
Being in the minority in an ethnically diverse crowd is distressing, regardless of your ethnicity, unless you have a sense of purpose in life, reports a study led by Anthony Burrow.
Research finds kids share when it’s done by choice
New research by Tamar Kusnir suggests that allowing children to freely choose to give valuable possessions to another leads them to share more in the future.
Book shows how family, culture shape personal stories
Qi Wang’s new book combines theory, research, examples and personal anecdotes to convey a message: The stories we remember and tell about ourselves are conditioned by one’s time and culture.
Nearby daughter most likely to be mom’s caregiver
Among adult siblings, the daughter who lives closest is the most likely to become the caregiver when their mother experiences health problems reports Karl Pillemer.

 Students in the News

Human Ecology students dive deep into research
Undergraduates in the field of Human Development worked on summer research projects from child development to neuroscience.
Undergrads go to camp – and study teen transitions
A team of undergraduates working with Jane Mendle piloted a study testing expressive writing interventions with adolescent girls at 4-H Camp Bristol Hills this summer.
Summer interns present research at poster session
Six undergraduates in the field of human development were among the 26 students participating in the the CCE internship program this summer.

More Stories

Scientists discover a way to erase traumatic memories

What does it mean to be “mostly heterosexual”?

Daughters (still) are the caregivers Life and the adolescent brain

Life and the adolescent brain

New Resources

Fifty Years of Family Change
The Dana Foundation
The Adolescent Health Highlight: Use of Illicit Drugs
Adolescent Development Toolkit




Study: Agents like Snowden prone to irrational decision-making
U.S. intelligence agents – like the embattled Edward Snowden – are more prone to irrational inconsistencies in decision making than college students and older adults, a new study by Valerie Reyna finds.
Extroverts have more sensitive brain-reward system
A new study by Richard Depue highlights the role of brain chemistry in extraversion and reports that reward-context associations play a significant role in sustaining extroverted behavior.
Poor planning skills contribute to income-achievement gap
Children from low-income families tend to do worse at school than their better-off peers. Their poor planning skills have been found to be a reason for the income-achievement gap, reports a new study by Gary Evans.
Book looks at the ties that bind and buoy us
Cindy Hazan’s new book provides a scientific road map to human attachments from infancy through old age.
Faculty, staff, students win SUNY awards for excellence
Four faculty and staff members in Human Development have been named 2013 winners of State University of New York Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence.
Study uncovers why women remember events better
A new study by Qi Wang identifies a key element in why women are typically better at remembering past events than men.
Study: Women reject promiscuous female peers as friends
HD graduate student Zhana Vrangalova is lead author of a study that finds promiscuous women don’t prefer other promiscuous women as friends.
American, Nepalese kids a world apart on social duties
A cross-cultural study by Tamar Kushnir finds that American and Nepalese children differ on their perception of free will – American children are more prone to acknowledge one’s freedom to violate social codes.

 Students in the news

Cornellians awarded a record 28 Fulbright awards
Jeffrey Valla, graduate student in the field of human development, has received a Fulbright award to study in India.
Top seniors and their teacher-mentors honored
The Cornell Merrill Presidential Scholars Program honored outstanding graduating seniors, among them Anne Laurita Mendham ’13.

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Mapping the brain is a team effort

High schoolers explore careers at 4-H conference

New HD faculty member noted in Skorton reunion address

Advanced Research Navigator Workshop held for CCE educators

New Resources

Strategic variability in risky choice
Interview on risk taking with Valerie Reyna
Cornell Institute for Women in Science – videos
Adolescent Development Toolkit
ACT for Youth website


Scientists discover how brains change with new skills
Research by Nathan Spreng and colleagues identifies a neural marker for the changes the brain undergoes during skill-training.
Three on faculty win Guggenheim fellowship
Gary Evans, awarded Guggenheim fellowship, will write a book on poverty and child development.
Preschoolers can discern good sources of information from bad
Research by Tamar Kushnir suggests that young children actively evaluate what people know and go to the “experts” for information they want.
Good night’s sleep linked to happiness
Happiness is generally good for sleeping, but when a person’s happiness varies a lot in reaction to daily ups and downs, sleep suffers, suggests new research by Anthony Ong.
Asian-Americans often feel racial ‘microaggressions’
Research by Anthony Ong and Anthony Burrow finds Asian-Americans experience considerable everyday prejudice and discrimination.
Wang honored for research on Asian families
Qi Wang received the 2013 Outstanding Contribution to Research on Asian/Asian Americans award from the Society for Research on Child Development in April.

Students in the News

Undergrads unveil science savvy at 28th research forum
Presentations by HD undergraduates comprised the majority of the CURB presentations from the College of Human Ecology!
Students win kudos, cash for service projects
HD undergraduate, Sharjeel Chaudhry, receives Robinson-Appel Humanitarian Award of behalf of the PATCH project.
Caring for difficult elders linked to caregivers’ poorer health
HD graduate student Catherine Riffin is the lead author on a study that suggests tending to older loved ones who have bold personalities may be harmful to caregivers’ physical health.

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Cornell scientists help map national brain initiative

The most surprising regret of the very old – and how you can avoid it

When teen dating turns dangerous

BBCSS interview with Valerie Reyna

Life and the adolescent brain

How therapy can help in the golden years

New Resources

Science in the courtroom
Individual variation in functional brain networks in fetuses and children
Cornell Institute for Women in Science – CornellCast page
School-Randomized Experiments to Improve Children’s Academic and Social-Emotional Outcomes: Lessons from U.S. and Congo
 Adolescent Development Toolkit

Brain scan can decode whom you are thinking about
Our mental pictures of people produce unique patterns of brain activation, which can be detected using advanced imaging techniques, according to a new study by Nathan Spreng.
 coupleKilling your loved one with kindness can backfire
When a partner’s emotional support is perceived as unhelpful, the well-being of the recipient can be negatively impacted, reports a new study by Ong and Selcuk.
geneGene thought to be linked to Alzheimer’s is marker for only mild impairment
Defying a widely held belief in Alzheimer’s disease research, Reyna and Brainerd report that people with a specific gene are more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment – but not Alzheimer’s.
scalePoor children’s higher weights linked to less access to yards, parks
A recent study by Evans links low-income children’s higher weight in part because they have less access to open green space where they can play and get exercise.
CeciCeci to receive a top award from academic society
Professor Stephen J. Ceci will receive the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Child Development Award, April 19 from the Society for Research in Child Development.
brain scanMRI to help unlock mysteries of teen risky behavior
A $1.7 million NIH grant will be used to better understand why teens are prone to taking risks. The study will use an MRI to compare brains of teens and adults when faced with risky decisions.
palliative care conferenceResearchers, practitioners set agenda for palliative care
Cornell researchers met with Ithaca-area practitioners to set a research agenda for the little-studied field, which offers treatments to alleviate pain and suffering for seriously ill patients.
good news TNPreference to save the best for last fades with age
People’s preferences for the sequence of good and bad experiences change as they age, reports a new study by Loeckenhoff. Young adults want the good last; older adults want the good and bad mixed.

Students in the News

RiffinCaring for difficult elders linked to caregivers’ poorer health
HD graduate student Catherine Riffin is the lead author on a study that suggests tending to older loved ones who have bold personalities may be harmful to caregivers’ physical health.
Exner-CortensTeen dating violence linked to long-term harmful effects
HD graduate student Deinera Exner-Cortens is first author on a recent study about the harmful long-term effects associated with violent teen dating relationships.
internStudents spend summer doing research, outreach
HD students participated in summer extension internships throughout NYS

More Stories

Cornell lab brings research to life for Sciencenter families

Study: Casual teen sex linked to higher depression rates

Study: Self-injury in young people is a gateway to suicide

What is translational neuroscience?

New Resources

Positive emotion disturbance
A social neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk taking
Neurodevelopmental processes in the emergence of psychosis
Law and neuroscience: will brain imaging matter?
Large-scale brain network interactivity and aging
Women in science video series
K-12 extension-education modules from CIWS
Suicide prevention in college settings
Effective Ways to Communicate Risk and Benefit
Youth-adult partnerships for change
Evidence based strategies and practices guide


Teen behavior problems linked to early chronic stress
Behavior problems in adolescence such as aggression and delinquency are linked to chronic stress in early childhood, which interferes with children’s development of self-control, says a Cornell study.

Study: Teens’ chronic stress linked to childhood poverty
A new study reports that chronic stress in adolescence is linked to how much childhood time was spent in poverty. Such stress sets the stage for a host of physical and mental problems.

Preschoolers’ language often means misleading testimony
Children often use language differently than adults do when referring to a person or thing, which can result in misleading testimony, according to a new Cornell study.

Study: Negative stereotypes about the poor hurt their health
Adolescents who grow up poor are more likely to report being discriminated against; this perception is related to harmful changes in health, research suggests.

Youths’ well-being linked to how well they conform to gender norms
Regardless of sexual orientation, youths who don’t conform to the norms for their gender are less happy than teens who do, reports a new Cornell study.

Eyes reveal sexual orientation, study shows
A new study finds that sexual orientation can be revealed in a person’s pupil dilation while watching videos of people they found attractive.

MRI scanner to propel cutting-edge research across campus
A powerful magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner has been delivered to Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, giving researchers a new tool to obtain detailed images with rich tissue contrasts noninvasively and

Students in the News
High School students participate in Thinking Like a Scientist
Rachel Sumner, a graduate student in human development, taught the Thinking Like a Scientist to teens as part of the 4H Career Explorations program this summer.

Painful memory? Think about a loved one, study says
Emre Selcuk, a graduate student in human development, participated in research suggesting that thinking about a loved one can make you feel better and reduce your negative thinking.

 More Stories

Science of eyewitness memory enters the courtroom
Academic minute: Stress and obesity
Cornell celebrates 150 years of the Morrill Land Grant Act
Fortifying 4-H with research
Secrets to a happy marriage (from the real experts)

Adolescent demographics
National Resource Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention among Adolescents
Risk communication and risky decision making

Boys who mature rapidly have more problems with friendships, depression
A new study by Jane Mendle and colleagues suggests that boys who reach sexual maturity more rapidly than their peers have more problems getting along with others their age and are at a higher risk for depression.
Continuum of sexual orientation has ‘in between’ categories
Twenty percent of women and 9 percent of men identified themselves as ‘mostly heterosexual,’ in a recent study by Ritch Savin-Williams, a finding that supports using a more nuanced 5-point scale for depicting sexual orientation.
Study: Effects of loneliness mimic aging process, boost heart disease risk
The effects of loneliness produce changes in the body that mimic the aging process and boost the risk of heart disease, reports a new study led by Anthony Ong.
New book offers a roadmap for translational research
Elaine Wethington and Rachel Dunifon have co-edited the new book, ‘Research for the Public Good: Applying the Methods of Translational Research to Improve Human Health and Well-Being.’
Meet HD’s newest faculty member Nathan Spreng
Please welcome our newest faculty member, Nathan Spreng, assistant professor in the department of human development in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology.
Teens take risks to ‘play the odds’ but can be taught otherwise
Sharing the latest evidence on adolescent brain development, Valerie Reyna spoke at an Inside Cornell media event held in March in Manhattan.
CCE summer internships strengthen communities, inspire students
This summer, 22 students will assist faculty members from all five academic departments in the College of Human Ecology through the Cornell Cooperative Extension Summer Internship program.

Students in the News

Students’ research tackles inequities in chronic pain care
Two Cornell undergraduates have been pursuing their respective passions for working with older adults and solving problems in underserved communities by tackling the burden of chronic pain among minorities.

Accessibility advocate chosen for Clinton Global Initiative University
HD major Jaime Freilich ’13 part of prestigious initiative.


Students build science kits
Emily Lopes ’13, Sharjeel Chaudhry ’13, both involved in HD research, noted for their work with PATCH.


HD graduate students featured on the BCTR website

More Stories
Is motherhood the biggest reason for academia’s gender imbalance?

Advice from life’s graying edge on finishing with no regrets

From body odor to democracy in Africa, social science research gets funding

Three-year decision-making collaboration results in 85 publications and more

New Resources

Women in science video series and K-12 education modules

Women and Leadership

Book Talk: The Adolescent Brain: Learning, Reasoning and Decision Making

The Developing Brain: What it means for treating adolescents

The Developing Young Brain

Guidelines for Healthy Food and Beverages for Adolescent Health Programs

Disadvantaged Families and Child Outcomes: The importance of Emotial Support for Mothers


Youth Development Research Update, June 5-6, Ithaca


Caregiver personality traits affect mental, physical health
Taking care of an aging or disabled loved one can be hazardous to your health, but certain personality traits appear to reduce caregivers’ risk for health problems.   

Obama’s election changed racial identity of black students
A new Cornell study reports that the 2008 election changed African-American college students’ perceptions of being black.

New approach could more effectively diagnose personality disorders
Personality disorders could be more effectively diagnosed by identifying and targeting the disrupted neurobiological systems where the disorders originate, says Depue.

Kids under chronic stress more likely to become obese
The more ongoing stress children are exposed to, the greater the odds they will become obese by adolescence, reports Evans.

Meet HD’s newest faculty member, Felix Thoemmes
Please welcome our newest faculty member, Felix Thoemmes, assistant professor in the department of human development in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology.

Women leave math-intensive science fields when they decide to have kids
Women with advanced degrees in math-intensive academic fields drop out of fast-track research careers primarily because they want children, report Williams and Ceci.

New Book on teen brains can help improve reasoning, decision making
The book “The Adolescent Brain: Learning, Reasoning and Decision Making,” co-edited by Valerie Reyna, focuses on teen brain development and high cognition, which is critical for good reasoning.

New book shares life lessons from ‘wisest Americans’
Gerontologist Karl Pillemer’s new book, “30 Lessons for Living,” gleans advice on living better and aging well from more than 1,200 older Americans.

Students in the News

Playing with little ones brings child development to life
Big Red Buddies is a new program that places Cornell students at the Cornell Child Care Center to read to and play with the children – and to learn and be inspired.

More Stories 

Videos Now Online from Bronfenbrenner Neuroscience of Risk Conference

Kushnir named ISS Fellow

Cornell research cited in report on toxic stress in childhood

Short history of decision making research cites Reyna’s work

Savin-Williams quoted on bullying

Mentoring in 4-H

New Resources

Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making Conference Presentations

An Ecological Approach to Adolescent Obesity

AAP Policy Statement on Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress

AAP Technical Report on The Lifelong Effects of Early Childhood Adversity and Toxic Stress

Two Generations of Poverty: Status and Trends among Parents and Children


Youth Development Research Update, June 5-6, Ithaca

Book talk: The Adolescent Brain: Learning, Reasoning, and Decision Making, Thursday, March 1 at 4:00pm, Mann Library, 160

Experts explore links between risk-taking, brain mechanisms
The Third Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference, on campus Sept. 22-23, explored the connections between risky decision-making and brain mechanisms.

Study: Mothers can buffer the worst effects of chronic stress on children’s memory
Chronic stress in childhood can damage teen’s working memory, but having a more sensitive, responsive mother provides some protection.

New York’s 4-H program to become more research-based
4-H at Cornell has been relocated to Cornell’s Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research to give the program even stronger connections to research.

Study: Adults can’t tell when children are intentionally lying or misinformed
These findings have implications for physical and sexual abuse investigations, which often rely heavily on children’s eyewitness reports.

Different ages need different risk messages, research finds
From emergency evacuation notices to how many vegetables to eat, people need good information to make good choices.

Cybertools and Sinhala archive will improve analysis of world’s 7,000 languages
A new generation of cybertools and a Sinhala language data archive at Cornell allow researchers to better study language acquisition in children.

Law School and Department of Human Development launch dual degree program
A new program lets students earn law and Ph.D. degrees in six years. A Human Ecology program in psychology and human development complements law studies.

Meet HD’s New Faculty
Please welcome our newest faculty members, Anthony Burrows and Jane Mendle, to the department of human development.

Students in the News

Students head up research and outreach projects across NYS
Four undergraduate students working with faculty in the department of human development spent their summer engaged in everything from teaching teens to playing games with toddlers.

More Stories

Words from the wise: Legacy Project collects senior wisdom

New Bronfenbrenner center seeks to link research, policy

Wethington quoted on coping with post-flood trauma

Article on emotional recovery after 9/11 quotes Ganzel

Savin-Williams quoted in article on bullying

Ceci is quoted on article on IQ variability

New Resources

Understanding self-injury 

The Teen Brain: still under construction

Steven Penrod: Pretrial publicity and jury decision making

J. Michael Bailey: research on sexual orientation

Stephen Suomi: Risk, resilience, and gene-environment interplay in primates

Kim Kopko: Evidence-based programs