Mclean Hospital
Julia E. Cohen-Gilbert, PhD

Julia E. Cohen-Gilbert, PhD

McLean Hospital Title:
Harvard Medical School Title:
  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry


Julia E. Cohen-Gilbert, PhD, employs cognitive and behavioral measures in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy to investigate the role of brain development in cognitive and emotional regulation during adolescence. She is particularly interested in dynamic prefrontal-limbic interactions that contribute to impulsive or risky behavior in this age group. In the Neurodevelopmental Laboratory on Addictions and Mental Health, she has focused her research on questions regarding the initiation and perpetuation of substance use and misuse during adolescence.

Dr. Cohen-Gilbert is currently conducting a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)-funded study examining neural and cognitive factors predicting adverse outcomes in college drinkers. She is also collaborating with McLean’s Adolescent Acute Residential Treatment (ART) Program to study cognitive-emotional regulation and early treatment outcomes in dually diagnosed adolescents and is working with Dr. Marisa Silveri on a longitudinal study of adolescent alcohol use.

Dr. Cohen-Gilbert’s NIH Biosketch

Research Focus:

Through her work at the Neurodevelopmental Laboratory on Addictions and Mental Health at McLean Hospital, Dr. Cohen-Gilbert investigates emotion-cognition interactions in adolescents and young adults that contribute to alcohol-related problems and coexisting clinical disorders. Employing cognitive and behavioral measures in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, she investigates the role of brain development in cognitive and emotional regulation and the impact of emotional information on inhibitory control during adolescent development.

To aid in this research, Dr. Cohen-Gilbert developed an emotional Go-NoGo task. For this task, participants attempt to inhibit impulsive responses while ignoring background images, producing neutral, positive, and negative emotional responses. She and her colleagues have employed this emotional Go-NoGo task as both a behavioral measure and in conjunction with fMRI.

In collaboration with Dr. Kathleen Thomas and Dr. Megan Gunnar, she used this task to examine emotion and executive functioning in a large group of young adolescents who spent their early childhoods in orphanages prior to being internationally adopted. During her post-doctoral fellowship, she further developed this protocol and extended her research into questions regarding the impact of alcohol use on cognitive control and emotion during adolescence and adulthood.

As a recipient of a K01 award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Dr. Cohen-Gilbert is investigating the impact of emotion-driven impulsivity on binge alcohol consumption and brain functioning among college freshmen. Her study employs neuroimaging and cognitive assessments acquired during freshman year of college in conjunction with annual follow-up internet surveys to assess the longer-term outcomes of early college drinking and to identify cognitive and neurological risk factors for ongoing problematic drinking.

Dr. Cohen-Gilbert is also involved in several other studies. One study examines the longitudinal development of the adolescent brain and substance use initiation using multimodal neuroimaging techniques in conjunction with clinical and cognitive assessments, including the emotional Go-NoGo task. Another study compares hippocampal function and neurochemistry in depressed and healthy women. In addition, she is collaborating with McLean Hospital’s Adolescent Acute Residential Treatment Program on their quality improvement initiative to help explore research questions using this large clinical dataset.


Brain DevelopmentNeuroimagingChild & AdolescentAddiction


Selected Publications:

Cohen-Gilbert JE, Thomas KM. Inhibitory control during emotional distraction across adolescence and early adulthood. Child Development 2013;84(6):1954-66.

Cohen-Gilbert JE, Sneider JT, Crowley DJ, Rosso IM, Jensen JE, Silveri MM. Impact of family history of alcoholism on glutamine/glutamate ratio in anterior cingulate cortex in substance-naïve adolescents. Development Cognitive Neuroscience 2015;16:147-154.

Cohen-Gilbert JE, Nickerson LD, Sneider JT, Oot EN, Seraikas AM, Rohan ML, Silveri MM. College binge drinking associated with decreased frontal activation to negative emotional distractors during inhibitory control. Frontiers in Psychology 2017;8:1650.

PubMed search for Dr. Cohen-Gilbert

Education & Training:

  • 2002 BA in Biological Basis of Behavior, University of Pennsylvania
  • 2008 MA in Developmental Psychology, University of Minnesota
  • 2010 PhD in Developmental Psychology, University of Minnesota
  • 2010-2013 Post-Doctoral Fellowship, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School




Office Address:

Belmont campus - McLean Imaging Center, Room 127E

External Website:

Visit the Silveri lab website

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