Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

  • Fahmy and Donna Attallah Chair in Humanistic Psychology
  • Director, USC Center for Affective Neuroscience, Development, Learning and Education (
  • Professor of Education, Psychology & Neuroscience
  • Brain & Creativity Institute; Rossier School of Education University of Southern California Member, U.S. National Academy of Education

Research Concentration

  • Educational Psychology


  • Neuroscience of Learning • Creativity • Culture • Morality and Social Interaction
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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 a Professor of Education at the USC Rossier School of Education, a Professor of Psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute, a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program Faculty at the University of Southern California, and Director of the USC Center for Affective Neuroscience, Development, Learning and Education (CANDLE).

Immordino-Yang was elected 2016-2018 president of the International Mind, Brain and Education Society by the society’s membership (  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).


Awards and Grants

  • 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.