Mary Helen Immordino-Yang
Associate Professor of Education, Psychology & Neuroscience
Expert in the neuroscience of learning, creativity, culture, morality and social interaction.
Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, EdD, studies the psychological and neurobiological bases of social emotion, self-awareness and culture and their implications for learning, development and schools. She is an Associate Professor of Education at the Rossier School of Education, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute, and a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program Faculty at the University of Southern California. A former urban public junior high school science teacher, she earned her doctorate at Harvard University in 2005 and completed her postdoctoral training with Antonio Damasio and Robert Rueda in 2008. Since then she has received numerous local, national and international awards for her research and for her impact on education.
Immordino-Yang was elected 2016-2018 president of the International Mind, Brain and Education Society by the society’s membership (www.IMBES.org). She is serving as a distinguished scientist on the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development, where she was selected to the sub-committee of six scientists and educators drafting a working definition of SEAD. She is appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on the Science and Practice of Learning (i.e., the committee writing, How People Learn II). In 2015-2016, Immordino-Yang was selected by the AERA leadership as one of thirty scholars to participate in the AERA Knowledge Forum centennial initiative. Immordino-Yang is associate Editor for the award-winning journal Mind, Brain and Education and for the new journal AERA Open. She is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Cogent Psychology and Culture and Brain.
Among other funded work, Immordino-Yang has a cross-cultural, longitudinal NSF CAREER study investigating adolescent brain and social-emotional development, and relations to school and life achievement in urban contexts. She is currently also PI for a school-based intervention study of the role of students’ social-emotional competencies in academic success, funded by the Templeton Foundation via the UPenn Imagination Institute. She is PI on a study of the neural and psychosocial correlates of mindsets in low-SES adolescents from two cultural groups, funded by the Raikes Foundation via the Stanford Mindsets Scholars Network. Immordino-Yang collaborates with ABC Unified School District, Manhattan Beach USD, Cerritos College, Rowland USD, and Los Angeles USD in her work. She serves as scientific adviser to several Los Angeles schools/districts.
Immordino-Yang’s 2015 book, Emotions, learning and the brain: Exploring the educational implications of affective neuroscience, is available from W.W. Norton publishers (author proceeds are donated to education-related causes). http://books.wwnorton.com/books/Mary-Helen-Immordino-Yang/
Honors and Awards:
- APA Division 8 (Society for Personality & Social Psychology) presidential nominee to the 2016 Spielberger EMPathy (Emotion, Motivation and Personality) Symposium
- FABBS Foundation Early Career Impact Award, 2015
- AERA Early Career Award, 2014
- AAAS Early Career Award for Engaging the Public with Science, 2014
- Rossier Award for Mentoring Postdoctoral Fellows, 2014
- Awarded an “Honor Coin” of the United States ARMY, 2012
- Received a "Commendation" from the County of Los Angeles, 2011
- Named a "Rising Star" by the Association for Psychological Science, 2011
- Inaugural recipient of the Transforming Education through Neuroscience Award, IMBES, 2008
- Awarded the PNAS Editorial Board's Cozzarelli Prize, 2010
Immordino-Yang's research is/has been supported by the NSF, NIH, NICHD, DARPA, the Raikes Foundation, the ECMC Foundation, the Templeton Foundation (Imagination Institute at U PENN), the Institute for New Economic Thinking, the USC Provost, the Rossier School of Education, The Brain and Creativity Institute Fund, and other sources.
- Read Selected Blog Posts by Mary Helen:
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2015, Oct. 10) Response to, To teach grit or not to teach grit: That is the question. Invited blog post published on Education Week Teacher.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2015, March 21) Rest is not idleness in the brain: Why kids may need downtime and opportunities for reflection to develop a strong sense of self and a moral compass. The People’s Science: Creating a conversation between scientists and the public. https://thepeoplesscience.forumbee.com/t/80hv4g
- Selected Publications in Human Development and Education - See CV for Full List
(*Signifies student/postdoc author at time of submission)
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. & *Gotlieb, R. (2017, in press) Embodied brains, social minds, cultural meaning: Integrating neuroscientific and educational research on social-affective development. American Educational Research Journal, Centennial Issue.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2016) Emotion, sociality, and the brain’s default mode network: Insights for educational practice and policy. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 3(2), 211-219 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2372732216656869
- *Gotlieb, R., *Hyde, E., Immordino-Yang, M.H., Kaufman, S.B. (2016) Cultivating the Social-Emotional Imagination in Gifted Education: Insights from Educational Neuroscience. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1377(1), 22-31.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. & Christodoulou, J.C. (2014) Neuroscientific contributions to understanding and measuring emotions in educational contexts. In R. Pekrun & L. Linnenbrink-Garcia (Eds.), International Handbook of Emotions in Education. (pp.607-624) New York, NY: Taylor and Francis/Routledge
- Immordino-Yang, M.H., *Christodoulou, J., *Singh, V. (2012). Rest is not idleness: Implications of the brain’s default mode for human development and education. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(4), 352-364.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. & Singh, V. (2011). Perspectives from social and affective neuroscience on the design of digital learning technologies. In R. Calvo & S. D'Mello (Eds.), New Perspectives on Affect and Learning Technologies. (pp.233-241) Sydney: Springer
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. & Sylvan, L. (2010). Admiration for virtue: Neuroscientific perspectives on a motivating emotion. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 35(2), 110-115.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. & Fischer, K.W. (2010). Neuroscience bases of learning. In V.G. Aukrust (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Education, 3rd Edition. (pp.310-316) Oxford: Elsevier.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. & Faeth, M. (2009). The role of emotion and skilled intuition in learning. (pp.66-81). In D.A. Sousa (Ed.), Mind, Brain, and Education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2008). The smoke around mirror neurons: Goals as sociocultural and emotional organizers of perception and action in learning. Mind, Brain, and Education, 2(2), 67-73.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2007). A tale of two cases: Lessons for education from the study of two boys living with half their brains. Mind, Brain and Education, 1(2), 67-83.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. & Damasio, A.R. (2007). We feel, therefore we learn: The relevance of affective and social neuroscience to education. Mind, Brain and Education, 1(1), 3-10.
- Selected Publications in Psychology and Social Neuroscience – See CV for Full List
(*Signifies student/postdoc author at time of submission)
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. & *Yang, X.-F. (2017, in press) Cultural differences in the neural correlates of social-emotion experiences: An interdisciplinary, developmental perspective. Current Opinion in Psychology, Special Issue on Emotion.
- Venkatraman, A., Edlow, B. & Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2017) The brainstem in emotion: A review. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, doi.org/10.3389/fnana.2017.00015.
- Dehghani, M., Boghrati, R., *Man, K., Hoover, J., *Gimbel, S., Vaswani, A., Immordino-Yang, M.H., Gordon, A., Damasio, A.R., Kaplan, J. (2017) Decoding the Neural Representation of Story Meanings across Languages. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
- *Yang, X.-F., Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2017). Culture and cardiac vagal tone independently influence emotional expressiveness. Culture and Brain, 5(1) 36-49. DOI 10.1007/s40167-017-0048-9
- Immordino-Yang, M.H., *Yang, X. & Damasio, H. (2016) Cultural modes of expressing emotions influence how emotions are experienced. Emotion 16(7), 1033-1039. doi: 10.1037/emo0000201
- Kaplan, J., *Gimbel, S., Dehghani, M., Immordino-Yang, M.H., Segae, K., Damasio, H., Gordon, A., & Damasio, A. (2016). Processing narratives concerning protected values: A cross-cultural investigation of neural correlates. Cerebral Cortex. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv325
- *Saxbe, D., *Del Piero, L., Immordino-Yang, M.H., Kaplan, J., Margolin, G. (2016) Neural mediators of the intergenerational transmission of family aggression. Development and Psychopathology, 28(02), 595-606.
- *Saxbe, D., *Del Piero, L., Immordino-Yang, M.H., Kaplan, J., Margolin, G. (2015) Neural correlates of adolescents’ viewing of parents’ and peers’ emotions: Associations with risk-taking behavior and risky peer affiliations. Social Neuroscience, 10(6), 592-604.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2015) Embodied brains, social minds: Toward a cultural neuroscience of social emotion. In, Chiao, J., Li, S.-C., Seligman, R., Turner, R. (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Cultural Neuroscience. Oxford: U.K.: Oxford University Press.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H., *Yang, X. & Damasio, H. (2014) Correlations between social-emotional feelings and anterior insula activity are independent from visceral states but influenced by culture. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 8:728. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00728
NOTE: From approximately 3 weeks after its release, this article has ranked in the top 5% of all published articles for attention received. In November, 2015 this article was named a “tier-climbing” selection and a focused review paper was invited.
- Dehghani, M., Immordino-Yang, M. H., Graham, J., Marsella, S., Forbus, K., Ginges J., Tambe, M. & Maheswaran, R. (2014). Computational Models of Moral Perception, Conflict & Elevation. Proceedings of the International Association for Computing and Philosophy.
- Sagae, K., Gordon, A. S., Dehghani, M., Metke, M., Kim, J.S., *Gimbel, S.I., *Tipper, C., Kaplan, J. & Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2013) A data-driven approach for classification of subjectivity in personal narratives. Proceedings of the 2013 Workshop on Computational Models of Narrative, 32, 198-213, OASIcs, Scholss Dagstuhl.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2013). Studying the Effects of Culture by Integrating Neuroscientific with Ethnographic Approaches. Psychological Inquiry: An International Journal for the Advancement of Psychological Theory, 24(1), 42-46.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. & *Singh, V. (2013). Hippocampal contributions to the processing of social emotions. Human Brain Mapping, 34(4), 945-955. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21485 (First published online: 2011)
- Chiao, J. & Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2013). Modularity and the cultural mind: Contributions of cultural neuroscience to cognitive theory. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(1), 56-61.
- *Yang, X., *Bossman, J., *Schiffhauer, B., *Jordan, M., Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2013). Intrinsic default mode network connectivity predicts spontaneous verbal descriptions of autobiographical memories during social processing. Frontiers in Cognitive Science, 3:592. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00592
- *Saxbe, D., *Yang, X., *Borofsky, L., Immordino-Yang, M. H. (2013). The embodiment of emotion: Language use during the feeling of social emotions predicts cortical somatosensory activity. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8, 806-812 doi: 10.1093/scan/nss075. (First published online: 2012)
- Immordino-Yang, M.H. (2010). Toward a microdevelopmental, interdisciplinary approach to social emotion. Emotion Review, 2(3), 217-220.
- Immordino-Yang, M.H., *McColl, A., Damasio, H., Damasio, A. (2009). Neural correlates of admiration and compassion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(19), 8021-8026.
NOTE: This paper received the 2010 Cozzarelli Prize from the PNAS editorial board.
Commentary: Haidt, J. & Morris, J. (2009). Finding the self in self-transcendent emotions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(19), 7687-7688.
- Selected Laboratory Conference Papers/Posters
(Contact Mary Helen for others not listed)
- Yang, X.-F. & Immordino-Yang, M. H. (November, 2013). Resting cardiac vagal tone is inversely related to intrinsic functional connectivity within the salience network. Poster presented at the Annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, CA.
- Yang, X.-F., Wong, S. W. H. & Immordino-Yang, M. H. (June, 2012). Heart rate deceleration predicts BOLD activity in default mode regions during emotion processing. Presented as a poster and invited talk at the 18th annual meeting of Human Brain Mapping, Beijing, China.
- Yang, X.-F., Pavarini, G., Schnall, S., Immordino-Yang, M. H. (May, 2012). Spontaneous gaze aversion during interview-induced moral elevation predicts subsequent default network activation. Presented at the 2012 Association for Psychological Science Convention, Chicago, IL.