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Aprajita Mohanty, Ph.D.


Office: Psychology A-340

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University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (2007)
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology

Dr. Mohanty will be reviewing graduate student applications for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Research Interests:

Impact of emotion on perception and attention

Transdiagnostic neural markers of psychotic disorders

Current Research:

The aim of my research is to understand how and why we prioritize emotional stimuli and how this prioritization is impacted by anxiety. To answers these questions, my research focuses not just on how the brain processes emotional stimuli but also on how the brain generates predictions regarding emotional stimuli. Emotional stimuli do not occur in a vacuum; rather, they typically occur embedded in contexts filled with cues that predict their identity and location. Our brain can utilize information provided by these cues or by the spatial regularities within the context itself and predict upcoming threat. For example, while walking on a desert trail, prior learning regarding the context or park signs warning of rattlesnakes may lead us to look out for rattlesnakes, resulting in their faster and more accurate detection. In my lab, we use cognitive behavioral tasks, computational modeling, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a range of imaging analyses techniques (univariate and multivariate) and different modalities (vision and olfaction) to examine ways in which the brain predicts emotional stimuli even before they happen, and how these prestimulus predictions enhance subsequent perception and attention. T he examination of prestimulus anticipatory processing is particularly important in case of anxiety. The clinical literature has distinguished anxiety from fear by emphasizing the anticipatory nature of anxiety. However, o ur basic understanding of the neurobiology of anxiety is based, not on prestimulus anticipatory response, but on actual neural response to threatening stimuli. Hence, research in my lab aims to understand how anticipation of threatening stimuli impacts attention/perception and contributes to the development and maintenance of anxiety.

While it is highly adaptive to use prior information regarding threat to perceive and attend to stimuli in our environment, if these stimuli pose no immediate danger to our well-being, it is equally adaptive to override their distracting effects and remain focused on ongoing tasks. Another line of research in my lab examines how we use cognitive control strategies to remain task-focused in the presence of emotional distractors. This line of research is particularly relevant to psychotic disorders that are characterized not just by neural deficits related to emotion perception but an inability to stay task-focused in the presence of emotional distractors. In collaboration with Dr. Roman Kotov in Department of Psychiatry, we are examining how these emotion-cognition interactions relate to symptom dimensions as well as global functioning, trasdiagnostically across different psychotic disorders.

Representative Publications

* denotes student or post-doc trainee author

Emotion, attention and perception

Jin, J., Narayanan, A., Perlman, G., Luking, K., DeLorenzo, C., Hajcak, G. Klein, D., Kotov, R., Mohanty, A. (2017). Orbitofrontal cortex activity and connectivity predicts future depression symptoms in adolescence. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. doi:

*Szekely, A., Rajaram, S., Mohanty, A. (2016). Context learning for threat detection. Cognition and Emotion. doi:  10.1080/02699931.2016.1237349

*Szekely, A., Heller, W., Miller, G., Mohanty, A. (2016). Differential functional connectivity of rostral anterior cingulate cortex during emotional interference. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsw137

*Sussman, T. J., Jin, J., & Mohanty, A. (2016). Top-down factors in threat-related perception and attention in anxiety Biological Psychology. doi:

*Sussman, T. J., Weinberg, A., Szekely, A., Hajcak, G., & Mohanty, A. (2016). Here comes trouble: Prestimulus brain activity predicts enhanced perception of threat. Cerebral Cortex . doi:10.1093/cercor/bhw104

*Sussman, T. J., Szekely, A., Hajcak, G., & Mohanty, A. (2016). It's all in the anticipation: How perception of threat is enhanced in anxiety. Emotion, 16 (3), 320-327. doi:10.1037/emo0000098

*Jin, J., Zelano, C., Gottfried, J. A., & Mohanty, A. (2015). Human Amygdala Represents the Complete Spectrum of Subjective Valence. Journal of Neuroscience, 35 (45), 15145-15156. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2450-15.2015

*Sussman, T. J., Heller, W., Miller, G. A., & Mohanty, A. (2013). Emotional distractors can enhance attention. Psychological Science, 24 (11), 2322-2328. doi:10.1177/0956797613492774

Mohanty, A., & *Sussman, T. J. (2013). Top-down modulation of attention by emotion. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7 , 102. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00102

Zelano, C., Mohanty, A., & Gottfried, J. A. (2011). Olfactory predictive codes and stimulus templates in piriform cortex. Neuron, 72 (1), 178-187. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2011.08.010

Herrington, J. D., Heller, W., Mohanty, A., Engels, A. S., Banich, M. T., Webb, A. G., & Miller, G. A. (2010). Localization of asymmetric brain function in emotion and depression. Psychophysiology, 47 (3), 442-454. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8986.2009.00958.x

Mohanty, A., Egner, T., Monti, J. M., & Mesulam, M. M. (2009). Search for a threatening target triggers limbic guidance of spatial attention. Journal of Neuroscience, 29 (34), 10563-10572. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1170-09.2009

Mohanty, A., Gitelman, D. R., Small, D. M., & Mesulam, M. M. (2008). The spatial attention network interacts with limbic and monoaminergic systems to modulate motivation-induced attention shifts. Cerebral Cortex, 18 (11), 2604-2613. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhn021

Mohanty, A., Engels, A. S., Herrington, J. D., Heller, W., Ho, M. H., Banich, M. T., . . . Miller, G. A. (2007). Differential engagement of anterior cingulate cortex subdivisions for cognitive and emotional function. Psychophysiology, 44 (3), 343-351. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8986.2007.00515.x

Levin, R.L., Heller, W., Mohanty, A., Herrington, J.D., & Miller, G.A. (2007). Cognitive deficits in depression and functional specificity of regional brain activity. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 31, 211-233.

Engels, A. S., Heller, W., Mohanty, A., Herrington, J. D., Banich, M. T., Webb, A. G., & Miller, G. A. (2007). Specificity of regional brain activity in anxiety types during emotion processing. Psychophysiology, 44 (3), 352-363. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8986.2007.00518.x

Shinkareva, S. V., Ombao, H. C., Sutton, B. P., Mohanty, A., & Miller, G. A. (2006). Classification of functional brain images with a spatio-temporal dissimilarity map. Neuroimage, 33 (1), 63-71. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.06.032

Herrington, J. D., Mohanty, A., Koven, N. S., Fisher, J. E., Stewart, J. L., Banich, M. T., . . . Heller, W. (2005). Emotion-modulated performance and activity in left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Emotion, 5 (2), 200-207. doi:10.1037/1528-3542.5.2.200

Compton, R. J., Banich, M. T., Mohanty, A., Milham, M. P., Herrington, J., Miller, G. A., . . . Heller, W. (2003). Paying attention to emotion: an fMRI investigation of cognitive and emotional stroop tasks. Cognitive Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 3 (2), 81-96.

Mandal, M. K., Borod, J. C., Asthana, H. S., Mohanty, A., Mohanty, S., & Koff, E. (1999). Effects of lesion variables and emotion type on the perception of facial emotion. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disorders, 187 (10), 603-609.

Mandal, M. K., Mohanty, A., Pandey, R., & Mohanty, S. (1996). Emotion-specific processing deficit in focal brain-damaged patients. International Journal of Neuroscience, 84 (1-4), 87-95.

Emotion-cognition interactions in psychotic disorders

*Sabharwal, A., Kotov, R., Szekely, A., Leung, H-C., Barch, D.A., Mohanty A. (In press). Neural markers of emotional face perception across psychotic disorders and general population.  Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

*Sabharwal, A., Szekely, A., Kotov, R., Mukherjee, P., Leung, H. C., Barch, D. A., & Mohanty, A. (In press). Transdiagnostic Neural markers of emotion-cognition interaction in psychotic disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology .

*Mukherjee, P., Sabharwal, A., Kotov, R., Szekely, A., Parsey, R., Barch, D. M., & Mohanty, A. (2016). Disconnection Between Amygdala and Medial Prefrontal Cortex in Psychotic Disorders. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 42 (4), 1056-1067. doi:10.1093/schbul/sbw012

Foti, D., Perlman, G., Hajcak, G., Mohanty, A., Jackson, F., & Kotov, R. (2016). Impaired error processing in late-phase psychosis: Four-year stability and relationships with negative symptoms. Schizophrenia Research . doi:10.1016/j.schres.2016.05.009

Mohanty, A., Heller, W., Koven, N. S., Fisher, J. E., Herrington, J. D., & Miller, G. A. (2008). Specificity of emotion-related effects on attentional processing in schizotypy. Schizophrenia Research, 103 (1-3), 129-137. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2008.03.003

Mohanty, A., Herrington, J. D., Koven, N. S., Fisher, J. E., Wenzel, E. A., Webb, A. G., . . . Miller, G. A. (2005). Neural mechanisms of affective interference in schizotypy. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114 (1), 16-27. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.114.1.16

Fisher, J.E., Mohanty, A., Herrington, J.D., Koven, N.S., Miller, G.A. & Heller, W. (2004). Neuropsychological evidence for dimensional schizotypy: Implications for creativity and psychopathology. Journal of Research in Personality, 38, 24-31 .

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