Lab Members & Affiliates

Rebecca Saxe - Principal Investigator

saxe at mit dot edu


Stefano Anzellotti - Post Doc

anzellot at mit dot edu

I am interested in the human ability to acquire and process knowledge about other people, and in the underlying neural mechanisms. This includes recognizing person identity and representing associated semantic information, as well as processing information that is orthogonal to identity, such as emotions and mental states. My research focuses on the use of neuroimaging methods together with machine learning techniques and mathematical models to characterize (1) what information is represented in brain regions involved in processing knowledge about people, and (2) how these brain regions dynamically interact, working as a network during information processing. In addition to its importance for guiding social interactions, knowledge about people is a promising case study for understanding the mechanisms underlying human knowledge about the world. Personal website:

Dima Ayyash - Research Assistant

dayyash at mit dot edu

I am interested in understanding how the human brain processes social interactions dynamically and spontaneously, giving rise to social behavior. By studying the neural basis of social cognition using neuroimaging, I am interested in how neural activity within social brain regions is modulated by different task demands, how information encoded in neural activity is distributed and shared across brain regions to meet task demands, and how social brain regions interact with other brain networks when other cognitive processes, such as working memory, executive function, or language, are relevant to a social task.

A.J. Haskins - Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator

ahaskins at mit dot edu

I am interested in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), social communication, and the development of assistive technology for individuals with disabilities. I connect families and adult participants with ASD to researchers at MIT in need of volunteers. To learn about ASD studies in Saxe lab and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, visit

Dae Sean Houlihan - Graduate Student

daeda at mit dot edu

I am interested in the how the brain processes emotion. My research looks at how different sources of information (e.g. perception, social inference, and prior neural states) influence the observation, generation and regulation of emotion.

Heather L. Kosakowski - Graduate Student

hlk at mit dot edu

At birth, the human infant brain weighs less than one pound. As infants become children and then adults, that tiny piece of tissue grows and expands to three times its birth size and is responsible for housing our entire experience as a human being. Every bit of knowledge, every cognitive capacity, and every thought humans have is a result of what is and isn’t stored by the billions of neurons in our brain. I find that amazing! As a graduate student, I get to study the development of the functional specialization and organization of the human brain with Rebecca Saxe and Nancy Kanwisher as my advisors!

Lindsey Powell - Post Doc

ljpowell at mit dot edu

I'm interested in the developmental origins of human social cognitive abilities, especially the ones that lead us to learn from and adopt the behaviors of other people. Much of my current research focuses on infants' evaluations of and inferences from imitation. I study this and other topics using both behavioral methods and near-infrared spectroscopy. Personal website:

Hilary Richardson - Graduate Student

hlrich at mit dot edu

I am a graduate student earning my PhD in cognitive neuroscience. I am most fascinated by questions about brain development: how does our brain change as we get older, and what kinds of neural changes support or predict cognitive feats like successfully reasoning about the minds of other people? To ask these questions, I ask "MIT Junior Brain Scientists" (i.e., kids!) to visit the lab, have their brain pictures taken, and play special picture-book and word games.

Todd Thompson - Scientist

toddt at mit dot edu

I completed my PhD at MIT researching the trainability of intelligence, and then accepted a post-doctoral position at Beth Israel researching the effects of non-invasive brain stimulation on cognition. I've now returned to the Saxelab, where I try to optimize analysis techniques, promote open and replicable science, and bring my dog to work each and every day.

Livia Tomova - Post Doc

tomova at mit dot edu

I am interested in how the brain adapts in a dynamically changing social world. My research focuses on how stressful interactions (i.e., social stress) affect our ability to understand and empathize with others and how this, in turn, affects prosocial decision-making. In addition, I study how social interactions influence decisions involving risk and reward. To study these topics, I use a combination of neuroimaging, behavioral paradigms and endocrinological measures (e.g. cortisol, testosterone).

Lyneé Alves - Lab Manager / Pediatric Neuroimaging Coordinator

lyneeh at mit dot edu

Lab Alumni

Dorit Kliemann - Post Doc

Jane Conway - Graduate Student

Patricia Soto - Graduate Student

Alex Paunov - Graduate Student

Tyler Bonnen - Post-Baccalaureate Fellow

Grace Lisandrelli - Lab Manager / Pediatric fMRI Coordinator

Ben Deen - Graduate Student


Laura Ligouri - Project Coordinator

Nir Jacoby - Lab Manager

Emile Bruneau - Research Sceintist


Cross-Cultural Social Cognition

Amy Skerry - Graduate Student

amy dot skerry at gmail dot com

Adele Luta - Research Affiliate

Advanced ToM and Strategic Cognitive Skills

Jorie Koster-Hale - Graduate Student


Language and Theory of Mind

Todd Thompson - Graduate Student

Hyowon Gweon - Post Doc


Theory of Mind and Causal Learning

Julianne Herts - Lab Manager / Pediatric fMRI Coordinator

Developmental Theory of Mind

Nick Dufour - Lab Manager

ndufour at stanford dot edu

Machine learning & data mining

Marina Bedny - Post Doc


Effects of developmental experience on abstract cognition.

Swetha Dravida - Undergraduate Researcher

Zeynep Saygin - Graduate Student


Attention and Emotional Regulation, Multi-modal imaging

Rebecca Nappa - Post Doc

Language Comprehension in Autism

Mina Cikara - Post Doc

Social Cognition

Hannah Pelton - Undergraduate Researcher

Developmental Theory of Mind

Jacqueline Pigeon - Undergraduate Researcher

Infant Cognition

Liane Young - Post Doc


Moral Judgment & Theory of Mind

James Dungan - Undergraduate Researcher

Human Moral Judgement

Elizabeth Redcay

Developmental cognitive neuroscience of typical and atypical communication

David Dodell-Feder

Theory of Mind in Clinical Populations

Alek Chakroff

Evelina Fedorenko

The effects of prosody on the listener's online representation of the speaker's thoughts

Roy Cohen

Agnieszka Pluta

Mike Frank

Social cues for word learning

Jon Scholz

Intelligence- knowlege representation and reasoning

Andrea Quintero

Modality and item independence of Theory of Mind activity in fMRI

Jess Andrews - Graduate Student

Theory of Mind and Episodic Memory Retrieval