Allyson Mackey

Associate Professor

BS, Biological Sciences, Stanford University

PhD, Neuroscience, University of California Berkeley

I am interested in how changes in the brain give rise to changes in the mind, both as development unfolds, and in response to experience. Over the course of development, maturational changes restrict plasticity. These changes are generally adaptive as they allow for the development of mature function, and prevent drastic remodeling in response to stress or injury. However, reduced plasticity limits the acquisition of new facts and skills. Therefore, developing brains must strike a balance between plasticity/vulnerability and stability/protection. My lab studies the mechanisms by which environmental factors tip this balance to shorten or shift windows of peak plasticity.

My years in inner city public schools, first as a student, and then as a researcher, have led me to concentrate my translational work on reducing the income achievement gap. Ultimately, the goal of my research is to promote positive educational and health outcomes for all individuals, regardless of socioeconomic background.


Office Location: 
Room 354, Levin Building, 425 S. University Ave.
Research Interests: 

Brain plasticity, learning, structural and functional neuroimaging, real-world academic outcomes


Professor Allyson Mackey will be considering new graduate students for admission for Fall 2023.


Selected Publications: 

Tooley, U.T. , Park, A.T. , Leonard, J.A., Boroshok, A.L., McDermott, C.L., Tisdall, M.D., Bassett, D.S., & Mackey, A.P. (in press) The age of reason: Functional brain network development during childhood. Journal of Neuroscience.

Leonard, J.A., Cordrey, S., Liu, H.S., & Mackey, A.P. (in press) Young children calibrate effort based on the trajectory of their performance. Developmental Psychology.

Park, A.T. , Richardson, H., Tooley, U.A. , McDermott, C.L. , Boroshok, A.L., Ke, A. , Leonard, J.A. , Tisdall, M.D., Deater-Deckard, K., Edgar, J.C., & Mackey, A.P. (in press) Early stressful experiences are associated with reduced neural responses to naturalistic emotional and social content in children. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.

Boroshok, A.L. , Park, A.T. , Fotiadis, P., Velasquez, G.H. , Tooley, U.A., Simon, K.R., Forde, J.C.P., Delgado Reyes, L.M., Tisdall, M.D., Bassett, D.S., Cooper, E.A. & Mackey, A.P. (2022). Individual differences in frontoparietal plasticity in humans. Npj Science of Learning, 7(1), 1–10.

Hart, Y., Kosoy, E., Liquin, E., Leonard, J.A. , Mackey, A.P., & Gopnik, A. (2022) The development of creative search strategies. Cognition, 225, 105102.

Park, A.T. & Mackey, A.P. (2022). Do younger children benefit more from cognitive and academic interventions? How training studies can provide insights into developmental changes in plasticity. Mind, Brain, and Education, 16(1), 24-35.

Tooley, U. A. , Bassett, D. S., & Mackey, A. P. (2022). Functional brain network community structure in childhood: Unfinished territories and fuzzy boundaries. NeuroImage, 247, 118843.

Leonard, J.A., Lydon-Stanley, D., Sharp, S., Liu, H.Z.3, Park, A.T. 1, Bassett, D.S., Duckworth, A.L., & Mackey, A.P. (2022). Daily fluctuations in young children’s persistence. Child Development, 93(3), e222-e236

McDermott, C.L. , Hilton, K., Park, A.T. , Tooley, U.A. , Boroshok, A.L. , Mupparapu, M., Scott, J.M., Bumann, E.E., & Mackey, A.P (2021). Early life stress is associated with earlier emergence of permanent molars. PNAS.

Tooley, U.A., Bassett, D.S., & Mackey, A.P. (2021). Environmental influences on the pace of brain development. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 22, 372-384.

Leonard, J.A. , Duckworth, A.L, Schulz, L.E., & Mackey, A.P. (2021) Leveraging Cognitive Science to Foster Children’s Persistence. Trends in Cognitive Science, 25(8), 642-644.

Park, A. T., Tooley, U. A., Leonard, J. A., Boroshok, A. L., McDermott, C.L., Tisdall, M.D. & Mackey, A. P. (2021). Early childhood stress is associated with blunted development of ventral tegmental area functional connectivity. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 47, 100909.

Leonard, J.A., Martinez, D. N., Dashineau, S., Park, A.T., & Mackey, A. P. (2021). Children Persist Less When Adults Take Over. Child Development. 92(4), 1325-1336

Tooley, U.A., Mackey, A.P., Ciric, R., Ruparel, K., Moore, T.M., Gur, R.C., Gur, R.E., Satterthwaite T.D., & Bassett, D.S. (2020). Influence of Socioeconomic Status on Functional Brain Network Development. Cerebral Cortex. 30(1):1-19.

Leonard, J.A., Romeo, R.R., Park, A.T., Takada, M.E., Robinson, S.T., Grotzinger, H., Last, B.S., Finn, A.S., Gabrieli, J.D.E., & Mackey, A.P. (2019) The neural correlates of reasoning differ by socioeconomic status in development. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 36, 100641.

Park, A.T., Leonard J.A., Saxler P., Cyr A.B., Gabrieli J.D.E, & Mackey A.P. (2018) Amygdala-medial prefrontal functional connectivity relates to stress exposure and mental health in early childhood. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 13(4): 430-439.

Cooper, E. A., & Mackey, A. P. (2016). Sensory and cognitive plasticity: implications for academic interventions. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 10, 21–27.

Mackey, A. P., Finn, A. S., Leonard, J. A., Jacoby-Senghor, D. S., West, M. R., Gabrieli, C. F. O., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2015). Neuroanatomical correlates of the income-achievement gap. Psychological Science, 26(6), 925–933.

Mackey, A. P., Miller Singley, A. T., & Bunge, S. A. (2013). Intensive reasoning training alters patterns of brain connectivity at rest. The Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(11), 4796–4803.

Mackey, A. P., Hill, S. S., Stone, S. I., & Bunge, S. A. (2011). Differential effects of reasoning and speed training in children. Developmental Science, 14(3), 582–590.

Courses Taught: 
  • PSYC 149 (Intro to Cognitive Neuroscience)
  • MAPP 712 (Positive Education)