Giorgia Picci, Ph.D.

Giorgia Picci, Ph.D.


​Giorgia Picci, PhD, is the Director of the Cognitive Affective Neurodevelopment in Youth Laboratory (CANDY Lab) in the Institute for Human Neuroscience. Dr. Picci is a developmental neuroscientist interested in how early life experiences (e.g., child abuse, neglect, discrimination) shape neurodevelopment and mental health outcomes. Her work emphasizes examining multiple levels of biology to answer her research questions, including hormones, s/fMRI, and MEG. She has authored numerous peer-reviewed publications featured in premier outlets such as PNAS, Psychological Science, and Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.

During her PhD at Penn State University, her work was among the first to demonstrate that puberty impacts the human visuoperceptual system; in her NSF-funded work, she showed that pubertal development induces a shift toward enhanced processing of peer faces. As a post-doc, Dr. Picci's research focused on 1) normative patterns of neurodevelopment, including effects of pubertal hormones and 2) how early life stress may modify neurodevelopmental trajectories and risk for psychopathology. Her research lab is currently focused on integrating these questions to understand how the confluence of childhood trauma and pubertal development impacts adolescents' neural structure and function as well as adaptation to life.



Postdoctoral Fellow in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience - 2021 – 2023

Dynamic Imaging of Cognition and Neuromodulation (DICoN) Laboratory

Center for Pediatric Brain Health

Institute for Human Neuroscience

Boys Town National Research Hospital


Post-Doctoral Researcher in Developmental Neuroimaging - 2018 – 2021

Program for Translational Research on Adversity and Neurodevelopment (P-TRAN)

Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center

Center for Healthy Children

Department of Human Development and Family Studies

The Pennsylvania State University


Ph.D., Developmental Psychology - 2012 – 2018

The Pennsylvania State University

Masters Thesis: Puberty matters: A look at the development of face recognition biases in
children and adolescents
Dissertation Thesis: On the way to becoming an adult: The behavioral basis of face
processing as it changes with adolescent romantic relationships
B.A. Psychology, Women & Gender Studies - 2008 – 2012

George Mason University​
Research Interests

  • Puberty effects on neurodevelopment
  • Impacts of early adversity on structural and functional neural development
  • Normative neurodevelopmental trajectories
  • Development of social information processing abilities​

Selected Recent Publications

Picci G, Christopher-Hayes NJ, Petro NM, Taylor BK, Eastman JA, Frenzel MR, Wang Y, Stephen JM, Calhoun VD, & Wilson TW. (2022). Amygdala and hippocampal subregions mediate outcomes following trauma during typical development: Evidence from T2-weighted structural MRI. Neurobiology of Stress. doi: 10.1016/j.ynstr.2022.100456

Picci G, Taylor BK, Killanin AD, Eastman JA, Frenzel MR, Wang Y, Stephen JM, Calhoun VD,
& Wilson TW. (2022).  Left amygdala structure mediates longitudinal associations between exposure to threat and long-term psychiatric symptomatology in youth. Human Brain Mapping. doi: 10.1002/hbm.25904

Penhale SH, Picci G, Ott LR, Taylor BK, Frenzel MR, Eastman JA, Wang Y, Calhoun VD,
Stephen JM, & Wilson TW. (2022). Impact of salivary DHEA levels on spontaneous cortical activity throughout development. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.

Picci G, Fishbein DH, VanMeter J, & Rose EJ. (2021). Genetic and neural vulnerabilities to
substance use in drug-naïve adolescents: The case of OPRM1 and DRD2 interacting with subcortical brain structure. Psychopharmacology. doi: 10.1007/s00213-021-06030-3

Picci G, Rose EJ, VanMeter J, & Fishbein DH. (2020). The moderating role of socioeconomic status on level of responsibility, executive functioning, and cortical thinning during adolescence. Developmental Psychobiology, 63(2), 291-304. doi: 10.1002/dev.22010​​

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