Profile picture of Jennifer Pfeifer

Jennifer Pfeifer

CTN Co-Director
Center for Translational Neuroscience, Neuroscience, Psychology
Phone: 541-346-1984
Office: 334 LISB
Research Interests: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Adolescence, Puberty, Self, Social Cognition, Emotion, Motivation, Decision-Making, Mental Health, Social Learning, Self-Regulation


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 neuroimaging 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 especially interested in how 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 of Mental Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Science Foundation, Oregon Medical Research Foundation, and Hopelab.

Dr. Pfeifer is interested in accepting new doctoral students for Fall 2025.

Selected Publications:

Cosme, D., Flournoy, J. C., Livingston, J. L., Lieberman, M. D., Dapretto, M., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2022).  Testing the adolescent social reorientation model during self and other evaluation using hierarchical growth curve modeling with parcellated fMRI data. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 54, 101089. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2022.101089.

Barendse, M. E. A., Bryne, M. L., Flournoy, J. C., McNeilly, E. A., Guazzelli Williamson, V., Barrett, A.-M., Chavez, S. J., Shirtcliff, E. A., Allen, N. B., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2022). Multi-method assessment of pubertal timing and associations with internalizing psychopathology in early adolescent girls. Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science (formerly Journal of Abnormal Psychology), 131(1), 14-25. doi: 10.1037/abn0000721 

Cheng, T. W., Magis-Weinberg, L., Guazzelli Williamson, V., Ladouceur, C., Whittle, S. L., Herting, M., Uban, K. A., Byrne, M. L., Barendse, M. E. A., Shirtcliff, E. A., & Pfeifer, J. H., (2021). A researcher’s guide to the measurement and modeling of pubertal development in the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development® Study at baseline. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 12, 608575. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2021.608575

Pfeifer, J. H., & Allen, N. B. (2021). Puberty initiates cascading relationships between neurodevelopmental, social, and internalizing processes across adolescence. Biological Psychiatry, 89(2), 99-108. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2020.09.002

Gruber, J., Mendle, J., Lindquist, K. A., Schmader, T., Clark, L. A., Bliss-Moreau, E., Akinola, M., Atlas, L., Barch, D. M., Barrett, L. F., Borelli, J. L., Brannon, T. N., Bunge, S. A., Campos, B., Cantlon, J., Carter, R., Carter-Sowell, A. R., Chen, S., Craske, M. G., Cuddy, A., … Williams, L. A. (2020). The Future of Women in Psychological Science. Perspectives on Psychological Science: A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 16(3), 483-516.

Flournoy, J. C., Vijayakumar, N., Cheng, T. W., Cosme, D., Flannery, J. E., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2020). Improving practices and inferences in developmental cognitive neuroscience. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 45, 100807.

Barendse, M., Cosme, D., Flournoy, J. C., Vijayakumar, N., Cheng, T. W., Allen, N. B., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2020). Neural correlates of self-evaluation in relation to age and pubertal development in early adolescent girls. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 44, 100799.

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. (2020). Study protocol: Transitions in Adolescent Girls. Frontiers in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 10, 1018.

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, 20(2), 340–355.

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, 118(5), 885–899.

Horn, S. R., Fisher, P. A., Pfeifer, J. H., Allen, N. B., & Berkman, E. T. (2020). 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, 129(1), 38–48.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.