Stephen Braren

Hunter College
Graduation Status: 


I am a first year PhD student in the field of Neuroscience in Education at New York University. I graduated from Hunter College with a Bachelor in Psychology and a Public Policy certificate. I am interested in studying the social cognitive neuroscience of learning in humans. That is, I hope to better understand how learning in the broadest sense as a dynamic, reciprocal, and life-long process of cognitive development, is affected by social factors, such as context, culture, and interpersonal relations. To investigate this relationship I intend to use various neuroscientific methods, such as EEG and fMRI, to evaluate theories and constructs in social and developmental psychology. Furthermore, I hope to translate research findings to the real world by influencing education and mental health policy, such that by better understanding the complexity and intricacy of cognitive development, we may enhance the benefits of learning for everyone, even beyond the classroom.

I began my research experience in the summer of 2014 working at Jon Kaas’s laboratory at Vanderbilt University, studying the plasticity of neural tissue in primates with spinal cord lesions. I continued my research with Peter Serrano at Hunter College in the fall of 2014, investigating the cellular and molecular effects of methamphetamine on learning and memory in rodents. Currently, under the mentorship of Elizabeth Phelps at New York University, I am applying animal models of learning and memory to studies on affect and learning in humans, specifically in exploring the acquisition and generalization of fear and stress responses. Upon graduating from Hunter in 2016 I will pursue a PhD in Social and Cognitive Neuroscience, and embark upon a career as a research scientist, teacher, and public policy reformer.

Presentation Summary:

  • Braren, S.H. Recoveries from long-term dorsal column lesions of the spinal cord may be mediated by other spinal cord pathways. Poster presented at Vanderbilt University Summer Science Symposium (August, 2014).
  • In Progress