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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology


Pilyoung Kim

Please note Dr. Kim is not accepting graduate applicants for Fall 2017

Areas of expertise/Research interests

  • developmental affective/social neuroscience
  • emotion processing and regulation
  • parent-child relationships, emotional bonding
  • chronic stress and poverty

Current research and projects

In the Family and Child Neuroscience lab, we study how early experience in family influences the development of a child's brain that involves in emotion regulation from infancy to middle childhood. We also investigate how exposure to stress influences parental brain and emotional bond to their children. We use multidisciplinary and converging-methods approach methods, including neuroimaging (MRI, fMRI), observational and behavioral methods.

Training Opportunities:

Graduate students joining in our lab have the opportunities to be trained in the exiting field of developmental affective social neuroscience. Students are expected to engage actively in on-going research and will be trained on how to work with at-risk children and families through home/site visits, lab experiments and fMRI sessions. Through these opportunities,  students are encouraged to think critically, develop expertise neuroimaging research, and learn to conduct an independent research project.

Professional work synopsis

1.  Emotion Recognition and Regulation

We investigate how social contexts such as parenting or social disparities influence children's ability to recognize others' positive and negative emotional expressions and regulate their own  emotions. Early experiences can led to brain development, which is further related to physical and psychological health throughout life. In current research projects, we try to understand the links between environmental, biological, and psychological mechanisms by which the social contexts influence children's ability to process others' emotional expressions and regulate their own emotions. We assess the social contexts in depth during home visits and children's neural development based on fMRI data.

2.  Emotional Bonding

The relationship with parents play a critical role in child's development in any social contexts. We investigate the development of such emotional bonding between a parent and child. We particularly focus on the neural basis of emotional bonding among new mothers during early postpartum years. In addition, we study links between parental brain, moods and parenting behaviors as well as infant's developmental outcomes.


  • PhD, Cornell University, 2009
  • MA, Cornell University, 2007
  • MEd, Harvard University, 2003
  • BA, Korea University, 2002

Selected Publications

  • Kim, P., Evans, G. W., Angstadt, M., Ho, S., Sripada, C., Swain, J. E., Liberzon, I., & Phan, K. L. (in press). Effects of Childhood Poverty and Chronic Stress on Emotion Regulatory Brain Function in Adulthood, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).
  • Kim, P., Arizpe, J., Razdan, V., Rosen, B. H., Haring, C., Jenkins, S. E., Deveney, C. M., Brotman, M. A., Blair, R. J. R., Pine, D. S., Baker, C. I., & Leibenluft, E. (in press)  Abnormal eye-movement among children with bipolar disorder or severe mood dysregulation during face emotion processing. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience.
  • *Thomas, L. A., *Kim, P., Bones, B. L., Hinton, K., Milch, H. S. Lindstrom, K., Reynolds, R. C., March, A. A., Adelman, N., Brotman, M. A., Blair, R. J. R., Pine, D. S., & Leibenluft, E. (in press) Elevated amygdala responses to emotional faces in youths with chronic irritability or bipolar disorder, NeuroImage: Clinical.
  • *Equal Contributions.
  • Ganzel, B. L., Casey, B.J., Kim, P., Gilmore, H., Tottenham, N., & Temple, E. (in press) Stress and the healthy developing brain:  Evidence for stress-related neural plasticity in later childhood. Development & Psychopathology.
  • Kim, P., Mayes, L. C., Leckman, J. F., Feldman, R., & Swain, J. E. (2013). Early postpartum parental preoccupation and positive parenting thoughts: Relationship with parent-infant interaction. Infant Mental Health Journal, 34, 104–116.
  • Evans, G. W. & Kim, P. (2013). Childhood poverty, chronic stress, self-regulation, and coping. Child Development Perspectives. 7, 43–48.
  • Evans, G. W. & Kim, P. (2012). Early childhood poverty and young adults' allostatic load: The mediating role of childhood cumulative risk exposure. Psychological Science, 23, 979-983.
  • Kim, P., Thomas, L. A., Rosen, B. H., Moscicki, A. M., Brotman, M. A., Blair, R. J. R., Zarate, C. S., Pine, D. S., & Leibenluft, E. (2012). Differing amygdala responses to facial expressions in children vs. adults with bipolar disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 69, 642-649.
  • Kim, P., Jenkins, S. E.,  Connolly, M. E., Deveney, C. M., Fromm, S. J., Brotman, M. A., Nelson, E. E., Pine, D. S., & Leibenluft, E. (2012). Neural Correlates of Cognitive Flexibility in Children At Risk for Bipolar Disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 46, 22-30.
  • Kim, P., Feldman, R., Mayes, L. C., Eicher, V., Thompson, N., Leckman, J. F., & Swain, J. E. (2011). Breastfeeding, brain activation to own infant cry, and maternal sensitivity. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52, 907-915.
  • Kim, P. & Evans, G. W. (2011). Family resources, genes, and human development. In A. Booth, S. McHale, & N. Landale (Eds.) Biosocial Research Contributions to Understanding Family Processes and Problems (pp. 221-230). New York, NY: Springer.
  • Kim, P., Leckman, J. F., Mayes, L. C., Feldman, R, Wang, X., & Swain, J. E. (2010). The plasticity of human maternal brain: longitudinal changes in brain anatomy during the early postpartum period. Behavioral Neuroscience, 124, 695-700.
  • Kim, P., Leckman, J. F., Mayes, L. C., Newman, M., Feldman, R. & Swain, J. E. (2010) Perceived quality of maternal care in childhood and structure and function of mothers' brain in the postpartum. Developmental Science, 13, 662-673.
  • Evans, G. W. & Kim, P. (2010) Cumulative risk as a potential explanatory mechanism for the SES-health gradient. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1186, 174-189.