Nancy S. Koven

Associate Professor

Summary of interests

  • Neurobiological correlates of cognitive functioning
  • Brain-behavior relationships in severe mental illness
  • Neuropsychological processes of emotion regulation
  • Individual differences in cognition-emotion interactions


  • B.A. Psychology, Swarthmore College (1998)
  • M.A. Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2001)
  • Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2004)
  • Clinical Internship Eastern Virginia Medical School (2003-2004)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship Dartmouth Medical School (2004-2006)

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Research Interests

Neuropsychological processes in emotion regulation and cognition-emotion interactions

There is substantial overlap in brain regions involved in both cognition and emotion. Prof. Koven is interested in the effects of positive and negative emotion on mechanisms involved in executive functioning, attention, and memory in individuals who are predisposed to certain moods, using neuropsychological models of brain activity to predict certain cognition-emotion interactions. Additionally, she is interested in the role of the prefrontal cortex in emotion regulation success, using a variety of techniques to examine emotion regulation outcomes (e.g., self-report measures, facial affective coding, information-processing behaviors via computer interface).

Neurobiological correlates of cognitive and affective functioning

Through collaborations with researchers at Dartmouth Medical School and other institutions, she continues a research line that focuses on the structure and function of brain structures involved in various cognitive (e.g., working memory, selective attention, self-evaluation) and affective (e.g., attention to and clarity of emotion) processes in severe mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. While she is not be able to conduct new MRI work at Bates, for students interested in neuroimaging, it may be possible to tailor a senior thesis to pose questions regarding volume (volumetry) and shape (morphometry) of relevant brain structures across samples of particular interest using existing MRI datasets.

Courses Taught

  • NS/PY 200 Introduction to Neuroscience
  • PY 235 Abnormal Psychology
  • NS/PY 330 Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PY 361 Topics in Affective Neuroscience
  • PY 215 Medical Psychology

Recent Publications

* indicates a Bates student co-author

Lantrip, C., Isquith, P. K., Koven, N. S., & Roth, R. M. (in press). Executive function and emotion regulation strategy use in adolescents. Applied Neuropsychology: Child.

Colligan, S. M.* & Koven, N. S. (in press). Alexithymia and emotional working memory: Performance on a recency-probes task. American Journal of Psychology.

Koven, N. S. & Demers, L. A.* (in press). Discordant peripheral levels of BDNF and serotonin are associated with enhanced emotional intelligence in men. Psychology and Neuroscience.

Demers, L. A.* & Koven, N. S. (in press). The relation of alexithymic traits to affective theory of mind. American Journal of Psychology.

Koven, N. S. & Collins, L. R.* (2014). Urinary brain-derived neurotrophic factor as a peripheral biomarker of executive functioning. Neuropsychobiology, 69, 227-234.

Koven, N. S. (2014). Abnormal valence differentiation in alexithymia. Personality and Individual Differences, 68, 102-106.

Koven, N. S. & Max, L. K.* (2014). Basal salivary oxytocin level predicts extra- but not intra-personal dimensions of emotional intelligence. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 44, 20-29.

Collins, L. R.* & Koven, N. S. (2014). Urinary BDNF-to-creatinine ratio is associated with aerobic fitness. Neuroscience Letters, 559, 169-173.

Koven, N. S., Cadden, M. H.*, Murali, S.*, & Ross, M. K. (2013). Vitamin D and long-term memory in multiple sclerosis. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 26, 155-160.

Koven, N. S., & Senbonmatsu, R.* (2013). A neuropsychological evaluation of orthorexia nervosa. Open Journal of Psychiatry, 3,214-222.

Koven, N. S., & Carr, L. H.* (2013). The role of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor C270T polymorphism in executive functioning. Journal of Applied Medical Sciences, 2, 25-41.

Ross, M. K., Koven, N. S.,Murali, S.*, & Cadden, M. H.* (2012).  The relationship between vitamin D serum level and midsagittal corpus callosum area in patients with multiple sclerosis. Journal of Applied Medical Sciences, 1, 51-60.

Koven, N. S., & Carr, L. H.* (2012). Differential relationships among facets of alexithymia and BDNF- and dopamine-related polymorphisms. Neuroscience and Medicine, 3(1), 7-13.

DiStefano, R. A.*, & Koven, N. S. (2012). Dysfunctional emotion processing may explain visual memory deficits in alexithymia. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 611-615.

Koven, N. S. (2011). Specificity of emotional awareness effects on moral decision-making. Emotion, 11(5), 1255-1261.

Cadden, M. H.*, Koven, N. S., & Ross, M. K. (2011). Neuroprotective effects of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis. Neuroscience and Medicine, 2(3), 198-207.

Koven, N. S., Roth, R. M., Garlinghouse, M. A., Flashman, L. A., & Saykin, A. J. (2011). Regional gray matter correlates of perceived emotional intelligence. Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, 6, 582-590.

Koven, N. S., & Thomas, W.* (2010). Mapping facets of alexithymia to executive dysfunction in daily life. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 24-28.

Herrington, J. D., Koven, N. S., Heller, W., Miller, G.A., & Nitschke, J. B. (2009). Frontal asymmetry in emotion, motivation, personality, and psychopathology: Methodological issues in electrocortical and hemodynamic neuroimaging. In S. J. Wood, N. B. Allen, & C. Pantelis (Eds.), Neuropsychology of mental illness. New York: Cambridge University Press, 49-66.

Kruck, C. L., Flashman, L. A., Roth, R. M., Koven, N. S., McAllister, T. W., & Saykin, A. J. (2009). Lack of relationship between psychological denial and unawareness of illness in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. Psychiatry Research, 169,33-38.

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, 103,129-137.

Roth, R. M., Koven, N. S., Pendergrass, J. C., Flashman, L. A., McAllister, T. W., & Saykin, A. J. (2008). Apathy and the processing of novelty in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 98, 232-238.