Dr. John Coley

John is interested in the basic cognitive processes underlying how people organize what they know about the world, and how they use what they know to make guesses about what they don’t know. He’s also interested in how those processes develop and change over time, and how differences in culture and experience influence them. Finally, he’s getting more and more interested in the practical, concrete consequences of conceptual organization and reasoning in areas like education, social conflict, and emotional regulation. John likes to think of his lab as an environment in which smart, motivated, people have the opportunity to work together while learning about research, exploring these issues in lots of different ways, making genuine contributions to cognitive science, and having fun along the way.

Nicole graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology in 2011. After graduation, she worked as the Lab Coordinator for Lisa Feldman Barrett’s Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory where she studied emotion perception and neural processing of negative and threatening stimuli. Nicole is currently a second year graduate student of John Coley and is co-advised by Lisa Feldman Barrett. She is broadly interested in how conceptual structure of emotions can influence emotional experiences. She is currently pursuing research investigating the development of essentialist beliefs about emotions and how different patterns of thinking about emotions can influence the emotion regulation strategies that we use. When she feels stressed, her go-to emotion regulation strategy is swimming.




Ann Xu

Ann is a Ph.D student working in the lab, with a broad interest in interdisciplinary studies. Before coming to Northeastern, she concentrated in French literature, Corporate Law and Education. Currently, Ann is interested in studying how people essentialize categories in various domains (biology, social, moral, legal etc.), taking both cross-cultural and developmental perspectives. Essentially, Ann loves listening to classic piano while having fried chicken.






Jessica Leffers

Jessica is currently a first year Ph.D in the CORE Lab. She graduated from Goucher College May 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology with minors in Cognitive Studies and Education. She is broadly interested in how humans reason about the world around them. She would also like to study the underlying cognitive processes of decision-making or reasoning in emotional and social situations. A fun fact about her is that she has been to over 15 countries and she would love to do a cross-cultural study on emotional reasoning in any of them!


Hannah Wilkins

Hannah is currently working as the lab’s Research Coordinator. She is studying Behavioral Neuroscience and plans to graduate in Fall 2018. Hannah is particularly interested in the broad ideas of cognition, affect, and development. She’s been skydiving over the Finger Lakes in Western NY, paragliding in the Swiss Alps, and bungee jumping in South Africa. She loves traveling and has seen many parts of Europe and Africa.  She just came back from a dialogue in Uganda where she did a study on memory and volunteered in a facility for children with disabilities. Her favorite emotion regulation strategy is going to a cardio class or Zumba at the gym.