Aaron S. Heller

Assistant Professor of Psychology
University of Wisconsin - Madison, Clinical Psychology 2013

Research Interests

I am interested to better understand the temporal dynamics of positive emotion (ie., how we sustain or don't sustain positive emotion) in depressed and healthy individuals. I use a variety of methods including brain imaging (fMRI), psychophysiological (facial EMG, skin conductance) and experience sampling (using smart phones) techniques to better understand emotion and psychopathology. Relatedly, I am interested in developing better methods to simultaneously acquire fMRI with objective measures of emotion like facial EMG.

Job Openings

Volunteer Research Assistants - We are accepting applicants for volunteer research assistants who would like to be involved in the research being performed in the lab. Please email Dr. Heller if you are interested.

Graduate Students - My lab in the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami will be accepting graduate students for the Fall of 2017. If you are interested in the kinds of work we do, please do not hesitate to write me an email and apply to the program.

Selected Publications

Heller AS, Lapate RC, Mayer K, & Davidson RJ (2014). The face of negative affect: Trial-by-trial corrugator responses to negative pictures are positively associated with amygdala and negatively associated with ventromedial prefrontal cortex activity. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Heller AS, Johnstone T, Peterson M, Kolden G, Kalin N, & Davidson RJ (2013). Increases in prefrontal cortex activity when regulating negative emotion predicts symptom severity trajectory in depression. JAMA Psychiatry 70(11):1181-1189.

Heller AS*, van Reekum CM*, Schaefer SM, Lapate RC, Radler BT, Ryff, CD, & Davidson, RJ (2013). Sustained striatal activity predicts eudaimonic well-being and cortisol output. Psychological Science 24(11):2191-2200.

Heller AS, Johnstone T, Light S, Peterson M, Kolden G, Kalin N, & Davidson RJ (2013). Changes in sustained fronto-striatal circuitry resulting from antidepressant treatment correlates with changes in positive affect in major depression. American Journal of Psychiatry 170(2):197-206.

Lee H, Heller AS, van Reekum CM, Nelson B, & Davidson RJ (2012). Amygdala-prefrontal coupling underlies individual differences in emotion regulation. NeuroImage 62(3):1575-1581.

Light SN, Heller AS, Johnstone T, Kolden GG, Peterson MJ, Kalin N, & Davidson RJ (2011). Reduced Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex Activity While Inhibiting Positive Affect Predicts Anhedonia Treatment Response in Major Depressive Disorder. Biological Psychiatry 70(10):962-968.

Heller AS, Greischar LL, Honor A, Davidson RJ (2011). Simultaneous acquisition of corrugator electromyography and functional magnetic resonance imaging: A new method for objectively measuring affect and neural activity concurrently. NeuroImage 58(3):930-934.

Heller AS, Johnstone T, Shackman AJ, Light S, Peterson M, Kolden G, Kalin N, & Davidson RJ (2009). Reduced capacity to sustain positive emotion in major depression reflects diminished maintenance of fronto-striatal brain activation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(52):22445-22450.