The hippocampus is not only critical for learning and memory but, along with the amygdala, supports emotion processing. Following the theme around positive and negative modulators of the medial temporal hippocampal system and racialized stress, this research program focuses on the impact of racialized stress on hippocampal function in African American/Black university students at Historically White Colleges and Universities, and resilience factors, such as cardiorespiratory fitness. This study uses high-resolution fMRI and biomarker assays to examine allostatic load, which is the physiological ‘wear and tear’ response of the body to chronic stress. We have currently open positions to support this research program.


This set of studies focuses on examining the interaction between cardiorespiratory fitness, biomarkers of brain plasticity and allostatic load, and racism-related psychosocial stress on the medical temporal hippocampal system in Black/African-American emerging adults. From a public health perspective, a positive outcome will suggest that this type of psychosocial stress and the physiological “wear and tear” response to chronic stress negatively impact this brain system and mental health in Black/African-American emerging adults (18 to 25 years) and will highlight cardiorespiratory fitness and brain-derived neurotrophic factor as neurobiological mechanisms that enhance resilience. This research provides important new knowledge for healthcare providers, patients, and other stakeholders, and along with social and health policies in the future may contribute to reducing racial disparities in mental health and brain health among minority emerging adults.