Neuropsychology of Decision-Making Laboratory

Led by Dr. Stacey Wood, our broad goal is to examine decision making from a lifespan perspective.


Pi-Ju (Marian) Liu, PhD

Elder justice is my research focus, covering topics on elder abuse/neglect and Medicare/Medi-Cal healthcare policy. Identifying risk and protective factors of potential elder financial exploitation victims constituted my dissertation, and I have been investigating abuser risk and strength using the Elder Abuse Decision Support System ( Additionally, I work with researchers from UCSF and UC Berkeley to evaluate California’s Coordinated Care Initiative for seniors and people with disabilities ( My ultimate goal conducting elder justice research is to empower older adults to live in a society with social justice.

Yaniv Hanoch

Yaniv Hanoch is a professor of decision science at Plymouth University’s School of Psychology in the UK. He is a published author on the topic of behavioral economics and healthy behaviors and actively contributes journal research. Dr. Hanoch received his Ph.D. from the University of Haifa in 2004. He also completed the UCLA/RAND Post-Doctoral Training Program in Public Health from the Department of Health Services at the UCLA School of Public Health. Dr. Hanoch’s research interests include bounded rationality; older adults decision-making; medical decision making; risk-taking; offenders/ex-offenders risk taking and decision making. He was a recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.

Team Members

Patricia XiPatricia Xi

Patricia Xi is the lab manager of the Neuroscience of Decision Making Lab. She is from Beaverton, OR. Patricia is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Applied Cognitive Psychology at Claremont Graduate University. Her research interests include memory and aging, cognitive aging, and exercise and aging. In her spare time, Patricia enjoys cooking, baking, and sleeping!


Lukas Klapatch

Lukas Klapatch is a first year Applied Cognitive Psychology Ph.D. student attending Claremont Graduate University. He is from Leominster, MA and is very interested in research involving Psychology and Law. His research interests include memory and aging, decision-making, signal detection theory, eyewitness memory, and marketing research. In his spare time he enjoys relaxing at coffee shops, hiking, and traveling.


Joshua PaulJoshua Paul

Joshua Paul is a PhD student in the Social Psychology program of Claremont Graduate University. He holds an MA in Social Psychology and Evaluation from CGU and a BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, Annapolis. His research interests include the interactions between social biases and motivational processes and the applications of these principals to decision-making and health disparities.


Emily MuellerEmily Mueller

Emily Mueller is a senior at Scripps College majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. Emily is from Sonoma County, CA, and she hopes to pursue a doctorate degree in Neuroscience. Her research interests include decision-making and aging, and the neuropsychology of scam susceptibility. In her spare time she enjoys indoor cycling, reading, and drinking coffee (but not all at the same time).


Previous Team Members

Alice MullinAlice Mullin

Alice Mullin is a senior Psychology major and Media Studies minor at Scripps College. She is originally from Los Olivos, CA. She is very interested in all things research-related and hopes to get her doctorate in Clinical Psychology and eventually begin working as a therapist. In her free time, Alice enjoys binge-watching Netflix, hanging out with dogs, and reading.


Sana SraSana Sra

Sana Sra is a Psychology Major and Economics Minor at Scripps College. Originally from India, Sana aims to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology. Her interests lie in understanding the relationship between Trauma and Memory and specifically focusing on the Neuropsychology of Clinical Disorders. In her free time, you can find her acting, cuddling with her pets or taking part in a multitude of physical activities. She intends to return to India to take on the daunting task of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses and providing help to the underprivileged and the Acid Attack survivors with whom she has worked since 2014.


Becca Shope

Becca Shope hails from Zionsville, Indiana, and is thoroughly fascinated by the brain. Becca enjoys the great outdoors paired with a nice, rejuvenating drink from the Motley Coffeehouse. In her free time you can find Becca rock climbing, drinking coffee, and basking in the sun. During Spring, 2015 Becca will be studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Caroline Davis

Caroline Davis worked in Dr. Wood’s lab as a Research Assistant for one year. Caroline recently interned at the psychological ward at Children’s Hospital in Washington D.C. in addition to working closely with Dr. Wood in her private practice. Caroline is very interested in the clinical field, and hopes to pursue a doctorate degree, specifically a PsyD.


Caroline Joyce

Caroline graduated from Scripps College with a B.A. in Psychology. Caroline currently works for the Heart Center Research Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and she will begin her Master’s of Public Health at the University of Pennsylvania in Fall of 2017!


Emily Roizin

Emily Roizin is from Lexington, Massachusetts, but prefers living in sunny California. She wrote her senior thesis on the effects of obscenity in television on child development. Besides working in Dr.Wood’s lab, Emily enjoys running, baking, and reading.


Laurel Kitada

Laurel Kitada is originally from South Pasadena, CA. She is interested in studying how protective factors, such as social support and social participation, may prevent financial elder abuse, in addition to other topics in social and developmental psychology. In her free time, Laurel enjoys cooking, baking, paper-crafting, and playing the piano.



Nina Pearce

Nina Pearce is interested in how psychology & medicine interact and how conscious and unconscious choices may lead to health or disease. Her other areas of interest include neuropharmacology & neuropsychology. She has been working in Dr. Wood’s lab since 2012. She enjoys working with older adults and being part of a rapidly developing field of research. In her free time she enjoys hiking, photography & going to the beach. She is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii.



Sarah Williams

Sarah recently graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Scripps College. She is currently working with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a brain treatment for major depression and other neuropathological disorders.



Warren Szewczyk

Warren graduated from Pomona College with a Bachelor’s in Neuroscience. He is currently working as a freelance writer and as a recruiter and behavioral intervention leader at a VA/UCLA schizophrenia lab.


Lione North

Lione North

After graduating with a Master’s in Psychology from Claremont Graduate University, Lione accepted a position as Clinical Care Coordinator at Beacon Health Options.


Kristi Sun

Kristi Sun is originally from Cupertino, California, and hopes to return to the Bay Area for grad school. When she isn’t doing research, she enjoys writing for The Claremont Port Side as its Campus Editor and going to concerts.

Welcome to the Neuropsychology of Decision-Making Lab

The broad goal of the neuropsychology of decision making laboratory, led by Dr. Stacey Wood, is to examine decision making from a lifespan perspective. We know the brain changes as people age, but so do their experiences and motivations. The lab has been involved in projects that examine basic changes in decision-making as individuals age in the areas of risk and choice. We have also completed a number of applied projects including examining insurance purchases by older adults (Medicare), financial capacity, and risk for financial exploitation. Our lab is located in Steele Hall on Scripps College’s campus.


Current Project

The Psychology of Mass Market Scams (MMS)
Mass Marketing scams (MMS) extract an enormous financial, social, and physical toll on millions of individuals across the globe.  Yet, there is limited understanding of what factors contribute to an individual’s likelihood to respond to these solicitations.  To address this gap, we have begun a new line of research designed to better understand the tactics used in MMS by the perpetrators as well as individual differences in susceptibility.  We have several projects in this line of research including an analysis of risk assessment, vulnerability in older adults, and interventions to decrease consumers’ risk to these scams.

Past Projects

Identification of Risk and Preventive Factors for Elder Financial Exploitation
Financial elder exploitation (FE) is an increasing problem for vulnerable elders exploited by opportunists and for the social service and criminal justice system designed to protect them. According to a recent New York Times editorial; “the cost (of FE) , on top of the human suffering, is immense: in stolen and squandered savings; the strain on the court system from abusive guardianships; the cost to Medicare and Medicaid from fraud; and from the care of fleeced victims who end up destitute in nursing homes” (NYT March 16, 2011). FE has been defined as the illegal or improper use of vulnerable adults’ funds or property for another person’s profit or advantage (AARP, 2006; NCEA 1998). Basic research into the understanding of FE has been lacking until recently, in part because of difficulties in accurately defining and measuring FE, which can be challenging (Conrad et al., 2010). Recent work in the development of tools to track FE may allow for a more rigorous study of the specific cognitive changes that may increase risk to FE and the interaction between cognitive variables and other psychological variables that may increase susceptibility to FE. Further, we plan to examine variables that may be protective in a unique retirement community that emphasizes social engagement.

Medicare and Mouselab Project
For many years, people ages 65 and older have been able to purchase long-term care insurance from a private insurance company, to cover services that are not paid for by Medicare. In addition, beginning in 2006, people ages 65 and older who are covered by Medicare became eligible to purchase insurance coverage that pays for some of the costs of prescription drugs, also through private insurance companies. Mouselab is an online decision-style task designed to simulate the real-world Medicare choice environment. In this study, we are interested in how people make decisions when choosing insurance for prescription drug coverage and insurance for long-term care. A set of cognitive batteries is also administered to investigate relationships between decision-making and cognitive abilities.

Preferred Number of Options and Emotional Regulation Project
This is a sub-project of the Medicare and Mouselab Project. Through questionnaires, participants are asked about their preferred number of options for a Medicare prescription drug plan, a car, and a jar of jams. The importance of these items to individuals and emotions during the experiment are also inquired through self-report questionnaires. The main purpose of the study is to investigate the variation between older and younger adults’ preferences for a number of options for different items, and developmental trajectories for emotional regulation.

Risky Decision-Making Project
This project investigates whether older adults are able to make good decisions when faced with risky decisions. Risky decision-making can be conceptualized in a dual-system model, which contrasts a deliberative system with a more emotion-based system. The two versions of the Columbia Card Task (CCT) were used to trigger either affective or deliberative decision-making. Self-Reported Decision Strategies were used to assess whether the two versions of the CCT evoked different aspects of the dual system in decision making. Additional individual measures of numeracy and working memory span were measured to see how they relate to the performance in the CCT.

Interested in participating?

Our studies depend on the participation of adults ages 60 years old or older who live in the Los Angeles/Inland Empire area. Click here for more information on becoming a participant.

Interested in volunteering?

We welcome the help of undergraduate students. Please click here for more information or email

Contact Dr. Wood Today

Professor, Psychology; Licensed Clinical Psychologist, CA.

Phone: (909) 706-2764
Curriculum Vitae: View Here
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