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Department Faculty

Dylan Wagner

Dylan received his B.A. in Psychology from McGill University and his Ph.D. in Psychology from Dartmouth College. Research in his lab focuses on two separate domains. One is aimed at understanding how our knowledge of other people (their likes and dislikes, their personalities, their quirks and habits) is organized into a coherent impression and, in turn, how this impression is encoded in the brain. Using a combination of functional neuroimaging, machine learning techniques and popular media (e.g., films, television), this line of work aims at developing methods to gain access to how individuals think and feel about the people around them.

Another line of research in his laboratory involves understanding the role of motivation, self-control and desire in precipitating self-regulation failures. Using a combination of eye-tracking, functional neuroimaging and measures of structural and functional brain connectivity, this work examines how individual differences in the ability to regulate desire for appetitive stimuli (food, cigarettes, alcohol) can be used to predict real-world self control failures.

Selected Journal Articles

Social Perception

Chavez, R.S., Heatherton, T.F., Wagner, D.D. (2017). Neural Population Decoding Reveals the Intrinsic Positivity of the Self. Cerebral Cortex. 27(11): 5222-5229.

Wagner, D.D., Kelley, W.M., Haxby, J.V., Heatherton, T.F. (2016). The dorsal medial prefrontal cortex responds preferentially to social interactions during natural viewing. Journal of Neuroscience. 36(26): 6917-6925.

Chen, P. A., Wagner, D.D., Kelley, W.M., Heatherton, T.F. (2015). Activity in cortical midline structures is modulated by self-construal changes during acculturation. Culture and Brain. 3(1): 39-52.

Powers, K.E., Wagner, D.D., Norris, C.J., Heatherton, T.F. (2013). Socially excluded individuals fail to recruit medial prefrontal cortex for negative social scenes. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 8(2): 151–7.

Chen, P. A., Wagner, D.D., Kelley, W.M., Powers, K.E., Heatherton, T.F. (2013). Medial Prefrontal Cortex Differentiates Self from Mother in Chinese. Culture and Brain. 1(1): 3–15.

Wagner, D.D., Haxby, J.V., Heatherton, T.F. (2012). The Representation of Self and Person Knowledge in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews:Cognitive Science. 3(4): 451–470.

Wagner, D. D. , Kelley, W. M. and Heatherton, T. F. (2011). Individual Differences in the Spontaneous Recruitment of Brain Regions Supporting Mental State Understanding When Viewing Natural Social Scenes. Cereb Cortex, 21, 2788-96.

Self-Regulation and Reward

Kelley, W.M., Wagner, D.D., Heatherton, T.F. (2015). In search of a human self-regulation system. Annual Review of Neuroscience. 38: 389-411.

Lopez, R.B., Hofmann, W., Wagner, D.D., Kelley, W.M., Heatherton, T.F. (2014). Neural predictors of giving in to temptation in daily life. Psychological Science. 25(7): 1337–1344.

Wagner, D. D. , Altman, M., Boswell, R. G., Kelley, W. M. and Heatherton, T. F. (2013). Self-Regulatory Depletion Enhances Neural Responses to Rewards and Impairs Top-Down Control. Psychological Science, 11, 2262-71

Somerville, L.H., Wagner, D.D., Wig, G.S., Moran, J.M., Whalen, P.J., Kelley, W.M. (2013). Interactions Between Transient and Sustained Neural Signals Support the Generation and Regulation of Anxious Emotion. Cerebral Cortex. 23(1): 49–60.

Wagner, D.D., Heatherton, T.F. (2013). Self-Regulatory Depletion Increases Emotional Reactivity in the Amygdala. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 8(4): 410–417.

Wagner, D.D., Boswell, R.G., Kelley, W.M., Heatherton, T.F. (2012). Inducing negative affect increases the reward value of appetizing foods in dieters. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 24(7): 1625–1633. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00238

Wagner, D.D., Dal Cin, S., Sargent, J.D., Kelley, W.M., Heatherton, T.F. (2011). Spontaneous Action Representation in Smokers when Watching Movie Characters Smoke. Journal of Neuroscience. 31(3): 894–898.

Heatherton, T.F. and Wagner, D.D. (2011). Cognitive neuroscience of self-regulation failure. Trends Cogn Sci, 15, 132-139.

Selected Chapters

Wagner, D.D. (2017) The use of reward cue reactivity in predicting real-world self-control failure. In de Ridder, Adriaanse & Fujita (Eds.), Handbook of Self-Control in Health and Wellbeing. Routledge

Wagner, D.D., Heatherton, T.F. (2016) What can cognitive neuroscience tell us about the mechanism of ego depletion? In E.R. Hirt, J.J. Clarkson & L. Jia (Eds.), Self-Regulation and Ego Control. Academic Press: Elsevier.

Wagner, D.D., Heatherton, T.F. (2016) The neural bases of self-regulation and its failures. In K.D. Vohs & R.F. Baumeister (Eds.), Handbook of Self Regulation: Research, theory and applications (3rd edition). New York, N.Y.:Guilford Press

Wagner, D. D. and Heatherton, T. F. (2014). Self-Regulation and its Failure: Seven Deadly Threats to Self-Regulation. In Borgida, E. and Bargh, J. (Eds.) APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology: Volume 1. Attitudes and Social Cognition, American Psychological Association.


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