Jamie Hanson

Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychology

Research Scientist, Learning Research & Development Center

Research Interests

My research focuses on how children and adolescents learn about their environment, how brain circuitry involved with learning may be impacted by early life stress, and how these brain changes may confer risks for negative outcomes. Through the use of structural and functional MRI, my research aims to learn about the impact of stress on neurobiology through a focus on two different forms of behavior. First, I have explored how early life stress may increase risk for disruptive behavioral problems through alterations in the brain. Second, I have focused on how early life stress may convey risk for depression. Through a series of studies, I have found that the risks for different forms of psychopathology associated with early life stress are conveyed by specific alterations in brain circuitry responsible for reward and socio-emotional information processing. This research program includes longitudinal assessments of individuals at multiple levels of analysis, including neurobiology, family functioning, and developmental history.

Miller, A. B., Sheridan, M. A., Hanson, J. L., McLaughlin, K. A., Bates, J. E., Lansford, J. E., Pettit, G. S., & Dodge, K. A. (2018). Dimensions of deprivation and threat, psychopathology, and potential mediators: A multi-year, longitudinal analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 127,(2), 160-170.

Hanson, J. L., Gilmore, A., Holmes, C. J., Yu, T., Barton, A. W., Beach, S. R., Galván, A., MacKillop, J., Windle, M., Chen, E., Miller, G. E., Sweet, L. H., & Brody, G. H. (2018). A family-focused intervention influences hippocampal-prefrontal connectivity through gains in self-regulation. Child Development, 1-13.

Hanson, J. L., Knodt, A. R., Brigidi, B. D., & Hariri, A. R. (2017). Heightened connectivity between the ventral striatum and medial prefrontal cortex as a biomarker for stress-related psychopathology: Understanding interactive effects of early and more recent stress. Psychological Medicine, doi: 10.1017/S0033291717003348

Hanson, J. L., van den Bos, W., Roeber, B., Rudolph, K.D., Davidson, R. J., & Pollak, S. D. (2017). Early adversity and learning: Implications for typical and atypical behavioral development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Chung, M. K., Hanson, J. L., Adluru N., Alexander, A. L., Davidson, R. J., & Pollak, S. D. (2017). Integrative structural brain network analysis in diffusion tensor imaging. Brain Connectivity.

Harms, M. B., Shannon Bowen, K. E., Hanson, J. L., & Pollak, S. D. (2017). Instrumental learning and cognitive flexibility processes are impaired in children exposed to early life stress. Developmental Science, 21(4). doi: 10.1111/desc.12596.

Chung M. K., Hanson J. L., & Pollak S. D. (2016). Statistical analysis on brain surfaces. In H. Ombao, M. Lindquist, W. Thompson, & J. Aston (Eds). Handbook of Modern Statistical Methods: Neuroimaging Data Analysis. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Hanson J. L., Albert D., Iselin A. R., Carré J. M., Dodge K. A., & Hariri A. R. (2016). Cumulative stress in childhood is associated with blunted reward-related brain activity in adulthood. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11(3), 405-412.

Scult M. A., Knodt A. R., Hanson J. L., Ryoo M., Adcock R. A., Hariri A. R., & Strauman T. J. (2016). Individual differences in regulatory focus predict neural response to reward. Social Neuroscience, 1-11.

Hair, N. L., Hanson, J. L., Wolfe, B. L., & Pollak, S. D. (2016). Association between child poverty and academic achievement-in reply. JAMA Pediatrics, 170(2), 180.

Caldwell J. Z. K., Essex M. J., Kalin N. H., Slattery M. J., Armstrong J. M., Hanson J. L., Sutterer M. J., Stodola D. E. & Davidson R. J. (2015). Preschool externalizing behavior predicts gender-specific variation in adolescent amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortical volumes. PLoS ONE, 10(2):e0117453.

Hanson J. L., Nacewicz B. M., Sutterer M. J., Cayo A. A., Schaefer S. M., Rudolph K. D., Shirtcliff E. A., Pollak S. D., & Davidson R. J. (2015). Behavior problems after early life stress: Contributions of the hippocampus and amygdala. Biological Psychiatry, 77(4), 314-23.

Chung, M. K., Hanson J. L., Ye J., Davidson R. J., & Pollak S. D. (2015). Persistent homology in sparse regression and its application to brain morphometry. IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, 34(9), 1928-1939.

Hanson J. L., Hariri A. R., & Williamson D. E. (2015). Blunted ventral striatum development in adolescence reflects emotional neglect and predicts depressive symptoms. Biological Psychiatry, 78(9), 598-605.

Dismukes A. R., Shirtcliff E. A., Hanson J. L., & Pollak S. D. (2015). Context influences the interplay of endocrine axes across the day. Developmental Psychobiology, 57(6), 731-741.

Hair N. L., Hanson J. L., Wolfe B. L., & Pollak S. D. (2015). Child poverty, academic achievement, and brain development. JAMA Pediatrics, 169(9), 822-829.

Hanson J. L., Knodt A. K., Brigidi B. D., & Hariri A. R. (2015). Lower structural integrity of the uncinate fasciculus is associated with a history of child maltreatment and future psychological vulnerability to stress. Development and Psychopathology, 27(4pt2), 1611-1619.

Gorka A. X., Hanson J. L., Jacobson S. R., & Hariri A. R. (2014). Reduced hippocampal and medial prefrontal gray matter mediate the association between reported childhood maltreatment and trait anxiety in adulthood and predict sensitivity to future life stress. Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, 4, 12.

Hanson J. L., Chung M. K., Adluru N., Alexander A. L., Davidson R. J., & Pollak S. D. (2013). Early neglect is associated with alterations in white matter integrity and cognitive functioning. Child Development, 84(5):1566-78.

Chung M. K., Hanson J. L., Lee H., Adluru N., Alexander A. L., Davidson R. J., & Pollak S. D. (2013). Persistent homological sparse network approach to detecting white matter abnormality in maltreated children: MRI and DTI multimodal study. Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention - MICCAI 2013, 16(Pt 1):300-307.

Hanson J. L., Hair N., Shen D. G., Shi F., Gilmore J. H., Wolfe B. L., & Pollak S. D. (2013) Family poverty affects the rate of human infant brain growth. PLoS ONE, 8(12): e80954.

Hanson, J. L., Chung, M. K., Avants, B. B., Rudolph, K. D., Shirtcliff, E. A., Gee, J. C., Davidson, R. J., & Pollak, S. D. (2012). Structural variations in prefrontal cortex mediate the relationship between early childhood stress and spatial working memory. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(23), 7917-7925.

Hanson, J. L., Suh, J. W., Nacewicz, B. M., Sutterer, M. J., Cayo, A. A., Stodola, D. E., Burghy, C. A., Hongzhi, W., Avants, B. B., Yushkevich, P. A., Essex, M. J., Pollak, S. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2012). Robust automated amygdala segmentation via multi-atlas diffeomorphic registration. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 6, 166.

Hanson, J. L., Chandra, A., Moss, E., Bhattacharya, J., Pollak, S. D., & Wolfe, B. (2012). Brain development and poverty: A first look. In T. Seeman, W.Evans, & B. Wolfe (Eds). Biological consequences of socioeconomic inequalities. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Hanson, J. L. & Hackman, D. (2012). Cognitive neuroscience and SES disparities. In T. Seeman, W. Evans, & B. Wolfe (Eds). Biological consequences of socioeconomic inequalities. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Jamie Hanson was quoted in the September 4 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article “It Affects Your Emotional State: Experts Say Classroom Temperature, Noise Stifle Learning.”

September 4, 2018


Jamie Hanson is the recipient of the Steven D. Manners Award, announced in the July 11 PittWire. His project is titled "Leveraging Ecological Momentary Assessments to Understand Associations Between Poverty, Stress Exposure and Environmental Volatility."

July 11, 2018


Jamie Hanson is featured in the Pittwire accolades alongside Tristen Inagaki for having been named 2017 APS Rising Stars.

February 12, 2018


The American Psychological Society has selected Jamie Hanson as a Rising Star. The Rising Star designation recognizes outstanding psychological scientists in the earliest stages of their research career post-PhD whose innovative work has already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions.

January 22, 2018


Jamie Hanson's research was discussed in Vice Magazine in the article "The Science of How Poverty Harms the Brain," which was posted to their website on July 14, 2017.

July 14, 2017

Vice Magazine


Jamie Hanson commented on a colleague's recent study in "Positive Parenting May Offset Brain Effects of Poverty," a June 29, 2017 Reuters article featured online.

July 24, 2017


The research of Jamie Hanson, Assistant Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Research Scientist, was the subject of the March 1 Pittsburgh Post Gazette article “Pitt Study: Abuse in Childhood can Lead to Misbehavior Later.”

March 1, 2017


LRDC Research Scientist Jamie Hanson's work on childhood stress and mental health is featured in the Child & Family Blog's article "Brain Scans Show Biological Link Between Early Life Stress and Poorer Adult Mental Health."

August 17, 2016


Jamie Hanson, LRDC Research Scientist and Assistant Professor, Psychology, was cited in the USA Today article “Evidence Grows of Poverty’s Toll on Young Brains” on July 6, 2016.

July 2016


Jamie Hanson, LRDC Research Scientist and Assistant Professor, Psychology, was cited in the ScienceDaily article “Early Childhood Stress Affects Brain's Response to Rewards” on October 19, 2015.

October 2015


Jamie Hanson, LRDC Research Scientist and Assistant Professor, Psychology, was cited in the ScienceDaily article “Early Life Stress and Adolescent Depression Linked to Impaired Development of Reward Circuits” on October 9, 2015.

October 2015


2015 Trainee Professional Development Award, Society For Neuroscience

August 2015

Jamie Hanson, LRDC Research Scientist and Assistant Professor, Psychology, was cited in the Huffington Post article “How Poverty Stunts Kids' Brain Development” on July 24, 2015.

July 2015


2015 Travel Award, HealthEmotions Research Institute, Wisconsin Symposium on Emotion, University of Wisconsin-Madison

March 11, 2015

2014 Fellowship, Sackler Summer Institute, Sackler Institute, Cornell University


2014-2015 Fellowship, Carolina Consortium on Human Development, Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

February 2014

2012 Travel Award, Sackler Colloquium on Biological Embedding of Early Social Adversity, National Academy of Sciences


2012 Fellowship, Summer Institute on Social Developmental Neuroscience, University of Maryland


2012 Friends of the Waisman Center Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison


2011 Travel Award, NIMH Meeting on “The Determinants of Executive Function & Dysfunction”, University of Colorado at Boulder