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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology


Pilyoung Kim

Dr. Kim is interested in taking a new graduate student for Fall 2021. She will review applications from students applying to either Affective/Social/Cognitive, Clinical, or Developmental Psychology programs.

Areas of expertise/Research interests

  • developmental affective/social neuroscience
  • intergenerational transmission of poverty and chronic stress
  • the role of early adversity in the developing brain
  • neural plasticity and neurobiology of the parental brain

Current research and projects

Our lab's research program focuses on examining the early life origins of socioeconomic disparities in health from a neurobiological perspective. We are currently conducting a longitudinal study to examine the effects of prenatal exposure to poverty on brains of two generations – new mothers and newborns. We use a multidisciplinary approach, including neuroimaging (MRI, fMRI, fNIRS), neuroendocrine, observational and behavioral methods. We are also working on various projects on delineating (1) the roles of stress on neural regulation of emotion and parenting among new parents; and (2) the roles of early exposure to poverty on brain development for emotion regulation in young children.

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.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Emotion and Development Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, 2012
  • PhD, Cornell University, 2009
  • MA, Cornell University, 2007
  • MEd, Harvard University, 2003
  • BA, Korea University, 2002

Selected Publications

  • Kim, P., Evans, G. W., Chen, E., Miller, G. E., & Seeman, T. E. (in press). How socioeconomic disadvantages get under the skin and into the brain across the lifespan. In N. Halfon, C. Forrest, R. Lerner, & E. Faustman (Eds.), The Handbook of Life Course Health Development. New York, NY: Springer.
  • Kim, P., Capistrano, C., Erhart, A., Gray-Schiff, R., & Xu, N. (2017). Socioeconomic Disadvantage, Neural Responses to Infant Emotions, and Emotional Availability among First-time New Mothers. Behavioral Brain Research, 325, 188-196.
  • Kim, P., Capistrano, C., & Congleton, C. (2016). Socioeconomic Disadvantages and Neural Sensitivity to Infant Cry: Role of Maternal Distress. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN), 11, 1597-1607.
  • Kim, P., Strathearn, L., &Swain, J. E. (2016). The maternal brain and its plasticity in humans. Hormones and Behavior, 77, 113-123.
  • Kim, P., Rigo, P., Mayes, L. C., Feldman, R, Leckman, J. F., & Swain, J. E. (2014). Neural Plasticity in Fathers of Human Infants, Social Neuroscience, 9, 522-535.
  • Kim, P., Evans, G. W., Angstadt, M., Ho, S., Sripada, C., Swain, J. E., Liberzon, I., & Phan, K. L. (2013). 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), 110(46), 18442-18447.
  • 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., Ting, A. H., & Tesher, H. B. (2007). Cumulative Risk, Maternal Responsiveness, and Allostatic Load Among Young Adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 43, 341-351.