Jennifer Pfeifer

Jennifer Pfeifer profile picture

Research Interests and Publications

The transition from childhood through adolescence is characterized by changing brains and bodies, affect and motivation, peer relationships and conceptions of self – many strands which combine to shape behavior during this critical period. Dr. Pfeifer is interested in how affect, motivation, regulation, self-evaluation, and social perception interact across contexts, are instantiated at the neural level, as well as influence adolescent choices and well-being. She studies the development of these related phenomena at multiple levels, with the goal of enabling healthy transitions from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. Her research is focused on i) building a foundational knowledge base about normative and atypical trajectories of functional brain development supporting these social, affective/motivational, and regulatory processes - in particular, integrating the contributions of social processes and social cognitive brain function to our neurobiological models of adolescent development; and ii) using fMRI as a tool to advance our understanding of neurobiological mechanisms that put some adolescents at risk for adverse outcomes, or serve as protective factors for others. She is also interested in how functional brain development is affected by various endogenous and exogenous factors such as pubertal development and early adversity. Her work has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Science Foundation, and the Oregon Medical Research Foundation.

Dr. Pfeifer will not be accepting new doctoral students for Fall 2022.

Selected Publications:

Barendse, M. E. A., Vijayakumar, N., Byrne, M. L., Flannery, J. E., Cheng, T. W., Flournoy, J. C., Nelson, B. W., Cosme, D., Mobasser, A., Chavez, S. J., Hval, L., Brady, B., Nadel, H., Helzer, A., Shirtcliff, E. A., Allen, N. B., & Pfeifer, J. H. (in press). Frontiers in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Study protocol: Transitions in Adolescent Girls. PsyArXiv,

Cheng, T. W., Vijayakumar, N., Flournoy, J. C., Peake, S. J., Flannery, J. E., Mobasser, A., Fisher, P. A., & Pfeifer, J. H. (in press). Feeling left out or just surprised? Neural networks implicated in violations of social expectations during adolescence. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience. BioRxiv, 524934,

Vijayakumar, N., Flournoy, J.C., Mills, K.L., Cheng, T.W., Mobasser, A., Flannery, J.E., Allen, N.B. and Pfeifer, J.H. (in press). Getting to know me better: An fMRI study of intimate and superficial self-disclosure to friends during adolescence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. PsyArXiv,

Horn, S. R., Fisher, P. A., Pfeifer, J. H., Allen, N. B., & Berkman, E. T. (in press). Levers and barriers to success in the use of translational neuroscience for the prevention and treatment of mental health and promotion of well-being across the lifespan. Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Vijayakumar, N., Pfeifer, J. H., Flournoy, J. C., Hernandez, L. M., & Dapretto, M. (2019). Affective reactivity during adolescence: Associations with age, puberty and testosterone. Cortex, 117, 336-350. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2019.04.024.

Flannery, J. E., Callaghan, B., Sharpton, T., Fisher, P. A., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2019). Is adolescence the missing developmental link in Microbiome-Gut-Brain axis communication? Developmental Psychobiology, 61, 783-795. doi: 10.1002/dev.21821

Pfeifer, J. H., Allen, N. B., Byrne, M. L., & Mills, K. L. (2018). Modeling Developmental Change: Contemporary Approaches to Key Methodological Challenges in Developmental Neuroimaging. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 33, 1-4. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2018.10.001

Pfeifer, J. H., & Berkman, E. T. (2018). Self and identity development in adolescence: Neural evidence and implications for a value-based choice perspective on motivated behavior. Child Development Perspectives, 12, 158-164. doi: 10.1111/cdep.12279

Vijayakumar, N., Op de Macks, Z., Shirtcliff, E. A., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2018). Puberty and the human brain: Insights into adolescent development. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 92, 417-436. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.06.004

Op de Macks, Z. A., Flannery, J. E., Peake, S. J., Flournoy, J. C., Mobasser, A., Alberti, S. L., Fisher, P. A., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2018). Novel insights from the Yellow Light Game: Safe and risky decisions differentially impact adolescent outcome-related brain function. Neuroimage, 181, 568-581. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.06.058

Cosme, D. C., Mobasser, A., Zeithamova, D., Berkman, E. T., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2018). Choosing to regulate: Does choice enhance craving regulation? Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 13, 300-309. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsy010.

Flannery, J. E., Giuliani, N. R., Flournoy, J. C., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2017). Neurodevelopmental changes across adolescence in viewing and labeling dynamic peer emotions. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 25, 113-127. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2017.02.003 NIHMS: 855475

Flournoy, J. C., Pfeifer, J. H., Moore, W. E. III, Tackman, A., Mazziotta, J. C., Iacoboni, M., & Dapretto, M. (2016). Neural Reactivity to Emotional Faces May Mediate the Relationship Between Childhood Empathy and Adolescent Prosocial Behavior. Child Development87(6), 1691-1702. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12630

Pfeifer, J. H., & Allen, N. B. (2016). The audacity of specificity: Moving adolescent developmental neuroscience towards more powerful scientific paradigms and translatable models. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 17, 131-137. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2015.12.012.

Giuliani, N.R., & Pfeifer, J.H. (2015). Age-related changes in reappraisal of appetitive cravings during adolescence. Neuroimage, 108, 173-181.

Kahn, L. E., Peake, S. J., Stormshak, B., Dishion, T., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2015). Learning to play it safe (or not): Stable and evolving neural responses in adolescent risky decision-making. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27, 13-25.

Sherman, L.E., Rudie, J.D., Pfeifer, J.H., Masten, C.L., McNealy, K., & Dapretto, M. (2014). Development of the Default Mode and Central Executive Networks across early adolescence: A longitudinal study. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 10, 148-159.

Mahy, C.E.V., Moses, L.J., & Pfeifer, J.H. (2014). How and where: Theory-of-Mind in the brain. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 9, 68-81.

Jankowski, K.F., Moore, W.E. III, Merchant, J.S., Kahn, L.E., & Pfeifer, J.H. (2014). But do you think I'm cool? Developmental differences in striatal recruitment during direct and reflected social self-evaluations. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 8, 40-54.

Moore, W. E. III, Merchant, J. S., Kahn, L. E., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2014). ‘Like me?’: Ventromedial prefrontal cortex is sensitive to both personal relevance and self-similarity during social comparisons. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9, 421-6.

Peake, S. J., Dishion, T., Stormshak, B., Moore, W. E. III, & Pfeifer, J. H. (2013). Risk-taking and social exclusion in adolescence: Behavioral and neural evidence of peer influences on decision-making. Neuroimage, 82, 23-34.

Pfeifer, J. H., Kahn, L. E., Merchant, J. S., Peake, S. A., Veroude, K., Masten, C. L., Lieberman, M. D., Mazziotta, J. C., & Dapretto, M. (2013). Longitudinal change in the neural bases of adolescent social self-evaluations: Effects of age and pubertal development. Journal of Neuroscience, 24, 7415-7419.

Masten, C.L., Eisenberger, N.I., Pfeifer, J.H., & Dapretto, M. (2013). Neural responses to witnessing peer rejection after being socially excluded: fMRI as a window into adolescents' emotional processing. Developmental Science, 16, 743-759.

Graham, A. M., Fisher, P. A., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2013). What sleeping babies hear: An fMRI study of interparental conflict and infants’ emotion processing. Psychological Science, 24, 782-789.

Masten, C.L., Eisenberger, N.I., Pfeifer, J.H., Colich, N. L., & Dapretto, M. (2013). Associations among pubertal development, empathic ability, and neural responses while witnessing peer rejection in adolescence. Child Development, 84, 1338-54.

Pfeifer, J. H., Merchant, J. S., Colich, N., Hernandez, L., Rudie, J., & Dapretto, M. (2013). Neural and behavioral responses during self-evaluative processes differ in youth with and without autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2, 272-285.

Pfeifer, J. H., & Allen, N. (2012). Arrested development? Reconsidering dual-systems models of brain function in adolescence and disorders. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16, 322-329.

Pfeifer, J. H. & Peake, S. J. (2012). Self-development: Integrating cognitive, social, and neuroimaging perspectives. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 2, 55-69.

Pfeifer, J. H., & Blakemore, S.-J. (2012). Adolescent social cognitive and affective neuroscience: Past, present, and future. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 7, 1-10.

Moore, W. E. III, Pfeifer, J.H., Masten, C.L., Iacoboni, M., Mazziotta, J.C., & Dapretto, M. (2012). Facing puberty: Associations between pubertal development and neural responses to affective facial displays. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 7, 35-43.

Pfeifer, J.H., Masten, C.L., Moore, W.E. III, Oswald, T.M., Iacoboni, M., Mazziotta, J.C., & Dapretto, M. (2011). Entering adolescence: Resistance to peer influence, risky behavior, and neural changes in emotion reactivity. Neuron, 69, 1029-1036.

Masten, C.L., Eisenberger, N.I., Borofsky, L.A., McNealy, K., Pfeifer, J.H., & Dapretto, M. (2011). Subgenual anterior cingulate responses to peer rejection: A marker of adolescents’ risk for depression. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 283-292.

Masten, C.L., Eisenberger, N.I., Pfeifer, J.H., & Dapretto, M. (2010). Witnessing peer rejection during adolescence: Neural correlates of empathy for experiences of social exclusion. Social Neuroscience, 2, 1-12.

Pfeifer, J. H., Masten, C. L., Borofsky, L. A., Dapretto, M., Lieberman, M. D., & Fuligni, A. J. (2009). Neural correlates of direct and reflected self-appraisals in adolescents and adults: When social perspective-taking informs self-perception. Child Development, 80, 1016-1038.

Masten, C.L., Eisenberger, N., Borofsky, L.A., McNealy, K.S., Pfeifer, J.H., Mazziotta, J.C., & Dapretto, M. (2009). Neural correlates of social exclusion during adolescence: Understanding the distress of peer rejection. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 4, 143-157.

Pfeifer, J.H., Iacoboni, M., Mazziotta, J.C., & Dapretto, M. (2008). Mirroring others' emotions relates to empathy and social abilities during childhood. Neuroimage, 39, 2076-2085.

Pfeifer, J.H., Lieberman, M., & Dapretto, M. (2007). "I know you are but what am I?!": Neural bases of self- and social knowledge retrieval in children and adults. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 1323-1337.