Brandy Bessette-Symons

Associate Professor and Neuroscience Minor Coordinator, Psychology
Phone: 607-274-1988
Office: Williams Hall 115C, Ithaca, NY 14850
Specialty: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience


Ph.D., Syracuse University, Experimental Psychology

M.A., Xavier University, Experimental Psychology

B.S., St. Lawrence University, Psychology

Research Interests:

The research conducted in my laboratory at Ithaca College focuses on recognition memory for emotional stimuli. The memory for emotional stimuli has long been found to differ from the memory for neutral stimuli. However, emotion's influence is now understood to be more complicated than purely a mechanism for enhancing memory.  Several current researchers now contend that enhanced memory for emotional stimuli is actually mediated via the combination of several additional variables known to influence memory independent of any emotional significance (e.g., increased relatedness, attention and distinctiveness). Most commonly, our research fails to find that emotion enhances recognition memory accuracy and instead finds that the most robust influence is elevated false memory for emotional material. My research team and I conduct experimental research designed to assess if the variables forwarded to moderate and mediate emotion's influence on memory accuracy, and the respective theories, extend to emotion's influence on false memory formation.

Teaching Interests:

I began teaching at Ithaca College in the Fall of 2009. Listed below are the courses I have taught, which represent my diverse interests in neuroscience and experimental, cognitive, and developmental psychology (primary courses listed first).  

  • Matters of the Mind (ICC: Mind, Body, Spirit Theme - Natural Science Perspective)
  • Cognition
  • Research Team (Team EPIC: Emotional and Physiological Influence on Cognition)
  • Proseminar in Development
  • Psychology of Aging
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • Seminar in Neuroscience (Topic: Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging)
  • Development of Adolescence
  • Methods in Neuroscience
  • Proseminar in Motivation

Selective Publications:

Bessette-Symons, B. (in press).  The robustness of false memory for emotional pictures. Memory. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1080/09658211.2017.1339091.

Ritchey, M., Bessette-Symons, B., Hayes, S.M., & Cabeza R. (2011). Emotion processing in the aging brain is modulated by elaboration. Neuropsychologia, 49, 640-650.

Hoyer, W.J., & Bessette-Symons, B.  (2010). The neuroscience of aging and cognition.  In Penelope Peterson, Eva Parker, Barry McGraw (Eds.) International Encyclopedia of Education (3rd    ed., Vol 5, pp. 340-344). Oxford: Elsevier.

St. Jacques, P.L., Bessette-Symons, B., & Cabeza, R.  (2009). Functional neuroimaging studies of aging and emotion: Front-amygdalar differences during emotional perception and episodic memory.  Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 15, 819-825.

Howard, M.W., Bessette-Symons, B.A., Zhang, Y., & Hoyer, W.J.  (2006). Aging selectively impairs recollection in recognition memory for pictures:  Evidence from modeling and ROC curves.  Psychology and Aging, 21(1), 96-106.

Kates, W.R., Antshel, K., Willhite, R., Bessette, B.A., AbdulSabur, N., & Higgins, A.M. (2005). Gender moderated dorsolateral prefrontal reductions in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome: Implications for risk for schizophrenia. Child Neuropsychology, 11(1), 73-85.

Kates, W.R., Burnete, C.P., Bessette, B.A., Folley, B.S., Strunge, L.A., Jabs, E.W., & Pearlson, G.D. (2004). Frontal-caudate alterations in velocardiofacial syndrome (deletion 22q11.2). Journal of Child Neurology, 19(5), 337-342.