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Katie Insel

Arriving Fall 2024

Research Interests

My research program focuses on adolescent brain development to better understand how teens learn, make decisions, and pursue their goals. Studying the adolescent brain can help us understand how teens navigate their newfound independence, and how they build cognitive skills to handle the challenges of daily life. This approach can also help us elucidate why this time of life coincides with a precipitous rise in mental health disorders.

The decisions that adolescents make, and the actions that they take, have substantial consequences for their immediate and long-term wellbeing. While adolescence is characterized by unique opportunities for learning and growth, adolescents sometimes make maladaptive decisions, which can put their mental and physical health at risk.

How do adolescents navigate this tension between opportunity and vulnerability? How does ongoing brain development shape both adaptive and maladaptive behaviors? To answer these questions, my lab uses novel experimental tasks, functional neuroimaging (fMRI), and computational modeling. We work with children, adolescents, and young adults to chart how brain function and behavior change during development.

In addition to conducting research, I am committed to the translation of science for society. I work with policy-makers, educators, and clinicians to help translate basic science to inform real world applications.

Selected Publications

For full list see:

Insel, C., Kastman, E.K., Glenn, C.R., & Somerville, L.H. (2017). Development of corticostriatal connectivity constrains goal directed behavior during adolescence. Nature communications, 8, 1605.

Davidow, J.Y.*, Insel, C.*, & Somerville, L.H. (2018). Adolescent development of value-guided goal pursuit. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 22(8), 725-736.

Insel, C. & Somerville, L.H. (2018). Asymmetric neural tracking of gain and loss magnitude during adolescence. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 13(8), 785-796.

Insel, C.*, Glenn, C.*, Nock, M., & Somerville, L.H. (2019). Aberrant striatal tracking of reward magnitude in youth with current or past-year depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 128(1), 44-56.

Insel, C., Charifson, M., & Somerville, L. H. (2019). Neurodevelopmental shifts in learned value transfer on cognitive control during adolescence. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, 40, 100730.

Rodman A., Powers K.E., Insel C., Kastman E.K., Stark A., Kabotyanski K.E., & Somerville L.H. (2021). How adolescents and adults translate value to action: Age-related shifts in strategic physical effort exertion for monetary rewards. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 150(1), 103-113.

Insel C.*, Tabashneck, S.*, Shen, F.X., Edersheim, J.G., & Kinscherff, R.T. (2022). White Paper on the Science of Late Adolescence: A Guide for Judges, Attorneys, and Policy Makers. Center for Law, Brain, & Behavior.