Lab Members & Affiliates

Rebecca Saxe - Principal Investigator

saxe at mit dot edu


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!

Marika Landau-Wells - Post-Doc

mlw at mit dot edu

I am interested in the ways in which cognition affects political behavior. I received my PhD in Political Science from MIT, where my dissertation research focused on the psychological processes associated with threat perception and the influence of those processes on policy preferences. My primary postdoctoral project focuses on understanding the neural bases of threat perception and the role of emotion in threat perception. I am also exploring how neuroscience and its methods can be integrated with social science research more generally. I will join the faculty of the Political Science Department at UC Berkeley in July 2019 as an Assistant Professor. Personal website:

Halie Olson - Graduate Student

holson at mit dot edu

I'm a graduate student in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences program at MIT studying children’s and babies’ brains! I’m interested in how early life experiences and environments impact brain development, particularly in the context of reading and language, and in turn what this means for children’s educational outcomes. This has led me to use different tools like fMRI and fNIRS to see what’s going on in the brain when kids and babies process language. Here in the Saxe Lab, I’m studying babies’ preferences for informative speakers using both neural and behavioral measures.

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:

Ashley Thomas - Post Doc

ashleyjt at uci dot edu

I'm interested in humans as a social species. I have two lines of research. In the first I investigate what infants, toddlers, and children think about social relationships. So far, I've mostly studied how they think and feel about social hierarchy (i.e. situations where there is a 'winner' and a 'loser' or when someone is 'in charge'). I'm currently starting projects about how infants think and feel about affiliative relationships (i.e. relationships where people feel connected, help each other, and care for each other). In my second line of research I'm interested in adult's moral judgements. I've specifically looked at people's moral judgements of parents and parenting, but in general I'm in interested in questions such as, where do moral norms come from and how do they change? Personal website:

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).

Ben Mittman - Lab Manager

bmittman at mit dot edu

Lab Alumni

Stefano Anzellotti - Post Doc


Hilary Richardson - Graduate Student


Dima Ayyash - Research Assistant

A.J. Haskins - Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator

Lyneé Alves - Lab Manager / Pediatric Neuroimaging Coordinator

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