Associate Professor of Psychology and Director, Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab, Harvard University
Leah Somerville is a psychology professor at Harvard University and the director of the Affective Neuroscience and Development Laboratory. Her laboratory’s award-winning research focuses on the changes that transpire during human adolescence. Her research, which incorporates psychology and neuroscience approaches, aims to inform how and why adolescents’ emotions, decisions, and social behavior are unique. Somerville has published over 70 scholarly works and her research has been featured in The New York Times, on PBS, and the BBC. She has received awards for her research, including the FJ McGuigan Early Career Research Prize for Understanding the Human Mind and the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award.
There’s often a classic moment in parenthood when parents wonder what ever happened to their sweet little kid — when did affection turn into attitude? The psychology and neuroscience behind these shifts in behavior can help parents better understand the rapidly-changing emotions of their teenage children. “From the transition from childhood into adolescence, there tends to be a reduction in daily positive emotion,” says Leah Somerville, a Harvard psychology professor. “Adolescents’ positive and negative emotional experience tend to have higher highs, lower lows, and bigger jumps in a given day.”