Charles Brainerd, Director

Portrait of Charles Brainerd

Dr. Brainerd holds B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in experimental and developmental psychology. He has published over 200 research articles and chapters, and he has also published over 20 books. His research covers areas such as human memory and decision-making, statistics and mathematical modeling, cognitive neuroscience, learning, intelligence, cognitive development, learning disability and child abuse. Dr. Brainerd's current research program centers on the relation between memory and higher reasoning abilities in children and adults, and it also focuses on false-memory phenomena. Together with another Cornell Professor, Valerie Reyna, he is the co-developer of fuzzy-trace theory, a model of the relation between memory and higher reasoning that has been widely applied within medicine and law.


  • Ph.D. Michigan State University - Psychology
  • M.A. Michigan State University - Psychology
  • B.S. Michigan State University - Psychology

Valerie Reyna, Collaborator

Portrait of Valerie Reyna

Dr. Reyna is Professor of Human Development and Psychology at Cornell University, and a Co-director of the Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research. Dr. Reyna holds a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Rockefeller University. Her research encompasses human judgment and decision making, numeracy and quantitative reasoning, risk and uncertainty, medical decision making, social judgment, and false memory. She is a developer of fuzzy-trace theory, a model of the relation between mental representations and decision making that has been widely applied in law, medicine, and public health. Her recent work has focused on aging, neurocognitive impairment, and genetic risk factors (e.g., in Alzheimers disease); rationality and risky decision making, particularly risk taking in adolescence; and neuroimaging models of framing and decision making. She has also extended fuzzy-trace theory to risk perception, numeracy, and dual processes in medical decision making by both physicians and patients. Dr. Reyna also teaches an undergraduate and a graduate seminar on Risk and Rational Decision Making and is the director of the Laboratory for Rational Decision Making.


  • Ph.D. Rockefeller University - Experimental Psychology

  • B.A. Clark University - Psychology

Laboratory Leaders

Koyuki Nakamura Memorylab Profile Photo

Koyuki Nakamura is a graduate student interested in the workings of human memory processes. She started working with Dr. Brainerd from the summer of her freshman year during her undergraduate education, and has remained in the lab to continue research. She is particularly interested in understanding memory processes to identify how, why, and when errors appear in both memory and decision making.

Sarah Bookbinder Memorylab Profile Photo

Sarah Bookbinder is a graduate student in the Human Development department. She is interested in false memory, forgetting, and the relationship between emotion and memory. She has recently been investigating the effects of emotional valence and arousal--in the forms of content and mood--on memory.

Amber John Memorylab Profile Photo

Amber John is a graduate student in the Human Development department. She is interested in the cognitive impairments and memory deterioration which occur through the aging process. She is currently investigating the relationship between memory functions and pain reporting in older populations.

Undergraduate Lab Leader

Wei-Feng Aaron Lee Memorylab Profile Photo

Wei-Feng Aaron Lee is a senior in Human Development with a concentration in Human Neuroscience. He first joined the lab in Fall 2013, when he transferred to Cornell from Santa Monica College. He is particularly interested in cognitive biases and social cognition, and has conducted a thesis in the lab on the timing of processes that support and suppress false memory.

Undergraduate Lab Members

'16: Olivia Dieni, Jisoo (Sophia) Kim
'17: Julie Barbera, Nico Campalans, Lauren Dennis
'18: Xi (Richard) Chen, Silas Ferrao, Masha Rosca, Matthew Zang

Members of Dr. Valerie Reyna's Laboratory for Rational Decision Making

Graduate Students: Julia Nolte (PhD), David Garavito (JD/PhD), Alisha Meschkow (MA)