Allyson Mackey

Assistant 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 2022.


Selected Publications: 

Park, A. T., Tooley, U. A., Leonard, J. A., Boroshok, A. L., McDermott, C.L. 1, Tisdall, M.D. & Mackey, A. P. (2021). Early childhood stress is associated with blunted development of ventral tegmental area functional connectivity. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.

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

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)