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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology


Kateri McRae

Dr. McRae 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

  • emotion/cognition interactions
  • emotion regulation
  • neuroimaging (fMRI)

Current research and projects

  • Identifying neural and cognitive contexts that maximize the success of emotion regulation strategies like cognitive reappraisal.
  • Examining the role of positive emotion on the regulation of negative emotion.
  • Comparing and contrasting the success of different types of emotion regulation strategies (e.g., distraction, cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression).
  • Identifying personal and contextual variables that are associated with the use of different emotion regulation strategies.

Professional biography

I study the relationship between emotion and cognition, with a particular focus on how different cognitive processes can impact emotion. I am interested in what initially causes emotions and how we can change them (at sensory, perceptual, cognitive and social levels).

In addition, I am interested in how attention, thought and memory change and are changed by emotion. Specifically, I examine processes that are characterized by emotion-cognition interactions, such as emotion regulation, the impact of emotion on decision-making, the cognitive generation of emotion, and emotional awareness.

I use an interdisciplinary, multi-measure approach to characterize emotional responding and cognitive processing. In experimental contexts, I measure self-reported emotional experience, peripheral physiological responses and whole-brain signals obtained from neuroimaging techniques (fMRI). I supplement these experimental approaches with correlational studies using self-report measures to characterize emotion-related personality variables and executive functioning tasks to evaluate cognitive skills.

I direct the laboratory for the study of automaticity, affect, control and thought (the AACT lab).

I teach two graduate seminars: Affective Neuroscience and Imaging the Mind (an fMRI methods course), and two undergraduate courses: Emotion Regulation, and Exploring Psychology Through Theater (a first-year seminar that involves seeing local productions and discussing their psychological content). I also co-host a podcast called "The Actor's Mind" with Anne Penner, a professor in the Department of Theatre at DU. And then can you link the name of the podcast to here:

I am currently an undergraduate major adviser for psychology and the curriculum chair of the psychology department.


  • PhD, University of Arizona, 2007
  • MA, University of Arizona, 2004
  • BA, Stanford University, 2002

Selected Publications

  • Lumian, D. & McRae, K (2017). Registered replication of "Affective flexibility: Evaluative processing goals shape amygdala activity." Psychological Science.
  • McRae, K., Rhee, S.H., Gatt, J.M., Godinez, D., Williams, L.M., Gross, J.J. (2017). Genetic and environmental influences on emotion regulation: A twin study of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression. Emotion. doi: 10.1037/emo0000300
  • Waugh, C.E., Zarolia, P., Mauss, I., Lumian, D., Ford, B., Davis, T., Ciesielski, B.G., McRae, K. (2016). Emotion regulation changes the duration of the BOLD response to emotional stimuli. Social, Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, 11, 1150-1559. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsw067
  • Zarolia, P., Weisbuch, M., and McRae, K. (2016). Influence of indirect information on interpersonal trust despite direct information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. doi: 10.1037/pspi0000074
  • Otto, B., Misra, S., Prasad, A., & McRae, K. (2014). Functional overlap of top-down emotion regulation and generation: An fMRI study identifying common neural substrates between cognitive reappraisal and cognitively generated emotions. Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, 14: 3 , 923-938. doi: 10.3758/s13415-013-0240-0
  • McRae, K., Ciesielski, B.R.G., Gross, J.J. (2012). Unpacking cognitive reappraisal: Goals, tactics and outcomes. Emotion, 12, 250-255. doi: 10.1037/a0026351
  • McRae, K., Heller, S.M., John, O.P & Gross, J.J. (2011). Context-dependent emotion regulation: Suppression and reappraisal at the Burning Man festival. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 33:4, 346-350. doi: 10.1080/01973533.2011.614170
  • McRae, K., Hughes, B., Chopra, S., Gabrieli, J.J.D., Gross, J.J., Ochsner, K.N. (2010). The neural correlates of cognitive reappraisal and distraction: An fMRI study of emotion regulation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 248-262.