James A. Coan


  • PhD, University of Arizona
  • MA, University of Arizona
  • BS, University of Washington
  • Postdoc, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Primary Appointment

  • Assistant Professor, Psychology


Research Interest(s)

Neuroscience of Emotional Expression and Individual Emotion-Regulation Capabilities

Research Description

I am interested in the neuroscience of emotional expression and individual emotion-regulation capabilities, as well as the social regulation of neural processes underlying emotional responses. These interests are necessarily multidisciplinary, requiring a diversity tools and methods from observational behavior coding to electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Additional interests include research methodology (particularly with regard to laboratory emotion elicitation), and behavior genetics.

UNLEASH (Undergraduate Research)

Our research focuses on the neural bases of emotional behavior, regulation, and experience, including a particular interest in the social regulation of neural processes underlying emotional responses. These interests integrate a variety of tools and methods, including observational behavior coding to electroencephalography (EEG) to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). RAs are typically involved in a number of activities, including running experiments, entering and analyzing data, and completing literature searches. There tends to be an emphasis on learning about and utilizing psychophysiological methods. Contact: Andrea Coppola amc2dh@virginia.edu Website: www.affectiveneuroscience.org

Selected Publications

  • Ein-Dor T, Coan J, Reizer A, Gross E, Dahan D, Wegener M, Carel R, Cloninger C, Zohar A. Sugarcoated isolation: evidence that social avoidance is linked to higher basal glucose levels and higher consumption of glucose. Frontiers in psychology. 2015;6 492. PMID: 25954240 | PMCID: PMC4407480
  • IJzerman H, Janssen J, Coan J. Maintaining warm, trusting relationships with brands: increased temperature perceptions after thinking of communal brands. PloS one. 2015;10(4): e0125194. PMID: 25915686 | PMCID: PMC4411151
  • Maresh E, Allen J, Coan J. Increased default mode network activity in socially anxious individuals during reward processing. Biology of mood & anxiety disorders. 2014;4 7. PMID: 25075275 | PMCID: PMC4114426
  • Schaefer H, Larson C, Davidson R, Coan J. Brain, body, and cognition: neural, physiological and self-report correlates of phobic and normative fear. Biological psychology. 2014;98 59-69. PMID: 24561099 | PMCID: PMC4251669
  • Coan J, Beckes L, Allen J. Childhood maternal support and social capital moderate the regulatory impact of social relationships in adulthood. International journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology. 2013;88(3): 224-31. PMID: 23639347 | PMCID: PMC3726257
  • Zhang T, Li F, Beckes L, Coan J. A semi-parametric model of the hemodynamic response for multi-subject fMRI data. NeuroImage. 2013;75 136-45. PMID: 23473935
  • Beckes L, Coan J, Hasselmo K. Familiarity promotes the blurring of self and other in the neural representation of threat. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience. 2012;8(6): 670-7. PMID: 22563005 | PMCID: PMC3739912
  • Stewart J, Coan J, Towers D, Allen J. Frontal EEG asymmetry during emotional challenge differentiates individuals with and without lifetime major depressive disorder. Journal of affective disorders. 2010;129(1): 167-74. PMID: 20870293 | PMCID: PMC3021630
  • Light S, Coan J, Frye C, Goldsmith H, Davidson R. Dynamic variation in pleasure in children predicts nonlinear change in lateral frontal brain electrical activity. Developmental psychology. 2009;45(2): 525-33. PMID: 19271836 | PMCID: PMC2758087
  • Light S, Coan J, Zahn-Waxler C, Frye C, Goldsmith H, Davidson R. Empathy is associated with dynamic change in prefrontal brain electrical activity during positive emotion in children. Child development. 2009;80(4): 1210-31. PMID: 19630903 | PMCID: PMC2717040
  • Salomons T, Coan J, Hunt S, Backonja M, Davidson R. Voluntary facial displays of pain increase suffering in response to nociceptive stimulation. The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society. 2008;9(5): 443-8. PMID: 18316246 | PMCID: PMC2670427
  • Coan J, Schaefer H, Davidson R. Lending a hand: social regulation of the neural response to threat. Psychological science. 2007;17(12): 1032-9. PMID: 17201784
  • Coan J, Allen J, McKnight P. A capability model of individual differences in frontal EEG asymmetry. Biological psychology. 2005;72(2): 198-207. PMID: 16316717 | PMCID: PMC2835626
  • Allen J, Coan J, Nazarian M. Issues and assumptions on the road from raw signals to metrics of frontal EEG asymmetry in emotion. Biological psychology. 2004;67(1): 183-218. PMID: 15130531
  • Coan J, Allen J. Frontal EEG asymmetry as a moderator and mediator of emotion. Biological psychology. 2004;67(1): 7-49. PMID: 15130524
  • Coan J, Allen J. Frontal EEG asymmetry and the behavioral activation and inhibition systems. Psychophysiology. 2003;40(1): 106-14. PMID: 12751808
  • Coan J, Allen J, Harmon-Jones E. Voluntary facial expression and hemispheric asymmetry over the frontal cortex. Psychophysiology. 2002;38(6): 912-25. PMID: 12240668