Monica Luciana, PhD

Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology

Monica Luciana is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota. She obtained her B.A. in Psychology at Boston College in 1985 and worked at McLean Hospital in Belmont Massachusetts for a longitudinal depression research study before moving to Minnesota several years later to begin graduate school. She obtained her Ph.D. in 1994 from the University of Minnesota’s clinical psychology program where she specialized in studying the neurochemical bases of executive functions, using pharmacological challenge techniques.  As a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development and supported by the MacArthur Network on Development and Psychopathology, she undertook a large-scale investigation of the development of executive functions in healthy 4 to 12 year-old children using the CANTAB computerized testing battery.   In 1997, she joined the faculty of the clinical psychology program in the U of MN’s Department of Psychology and was honored several years later with a McKnight Land-Grant Professorship award. Dr. Luciana’s work with pre-adolescent children led her to recognize that there was a gap in the understanding of executive function development in adolescents and young adults. Since 2003, she has been conducting longitudinal studies of brain and behavioral development in 9 to 25 year-olds using personality measures, cognitive tests, and brain imaging techniques.  This work focuses on the interplay between executive functions and motivational drives (particularly reward seeking) and their neural substrates in influencing behavioral outcomes. Her work has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and her lab is part of the recently-funded ABCD Consortium (link to  Current studies focus on whether normative use of alcohol, as well as marijuana use, impacts the course of brain and behavioral development in adolescence and into young adulthood.  Professor Luciana is one of the founding members of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Neurobehavioral Development and co-editor of the award-winning Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.  She served as Associate Chair of the Department of Psychology from 2006 to 2012 and became Chair of the department in 2012.