Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab

Research Overview

    The AND Lab focuses on how neurobiological changes from pre-puberty through early adulthood influence affect and behaviour. We combine high-resolution neuroimaging (7 Tesla fMRI) with novel decision-making tasks and computational modelling to understand the nature of decision making for reward, safety and threat. We're particularly interested in how the way the adolescent brain processes reward, safety and threat confers risk for psychopathology such as anxiety. Other interests include prosocial behaviour, stress and inflammation, emotion regulation, and social relationships. Other methods include blood assays, electrodermal activity recording, sleep actigraphy and ecological momentary assessment.

    Ongoing projects

  • Safety learning in adolescence and early adulthood.
    This project uses 7T fMRI to examine how external and self-related safety information is processed in the brain. Task measures of confidence and accuracy are assessed, as well as self-reported anxiety symptoms.
  • Affect fluctuations and valenced learning.
    This project uses a novel set of decision-making tasks and computational modelling to determine how fluctuations in affect relate to learning for positive and negative outcomes.
  • Emotion regulation and risk taking.
    This project uses ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to identify affect dynamics and emotion regulation strategies associated with adolescent risky decision making.
  • Meta-analyses and theoretical work.
    The AND Lab is conducting ongoing work related to synthesizing existing research and proposing new theoretical models. We are open to new student ideas for these projects.
  • We welcome proposals for additional projects from any students interested in creative task design, brain development and computational modelling. Dr Tashjian welcomes queries from potential honours students and PhD students for 2024. Strong problem-solving skills and a willingness to learn are a must.

    If you (ages 18-25) or your child (ages 12-17) are interested in participating in one of our studies, please email us at


Yubing Zhang (Research Staff)


The AND Lab collaborates with researchers across the Brain and Mental Health and Cognitive Neuroscience Hubs in the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences.

Lab collaborations include:


  • Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
  • United States National Science Foundation

Research Outcomes

Our recent theoretical and empirical research has contributed to understanding the computational and neurobiological architecture of safety decisions. Our broader work has shown that environmental stressors can be buffered by reward circuitry in the brain, the way social information is processed has relevance for adolescent prosocial behaviour, and environmental factors like sleep and parent/peer relationships are important for adolescent neural functioning.

Research Publications

Research Projects

For project inquiries, contact our research group head.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Cognitive Psychology and Behavioural Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology, Developmental Psychology

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Head of Lab Dr Sarah Tashjian

Department / Centre

Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences

Unit / Centre

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