Neuroscience Research

L. Forest Gruss, Ph.D.

Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience

Welcome to my webpage!

I am an experimental psychologist working in the field of behavioural and cognitive neuroscience using psychophysiological techniques. I investigate neurobiological signals that predict learning outcomes, for example through motivational affect and saliency. I am currently a postdoctoral scholar in psycho-oncology at the University of South Florida, College of Nursing, investigating cognitive impairment in breast cancer survivors with Dr. Cecile Lengacher. Take some time to browse; publications are especially eye-catching! 


My research interests range from basic neuroscience concepts and mechanisms such as cortical processing (visual attention, oscillatory EEG, face processing) to more intricate questions involving affect, decision-making, error processing, and reinforcement learning. Many of these topics have lend themselves well to research in clinical psychology as well, with fear, anxiety and mood disorders as well as neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders being of particular interest to me.

I received my PhD under the guidance of Dr. Andreas Keil at the University of Florida in the Spring of 2017. Both my masters thesis and dissertation work at the Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention (CSEA) lab dealt with various aspects of aversive conditioning in humans, using EEG and psychophysiological measurements. While my masters thesis emphasized the role of the COMT val158met polymorphism in threat responding and perceptual processing, my dissertation work focused more heavily on initial threat reactivity significantly predicting later extinction learning and threat expectancy.

I was a postdoctoral researcher for 2 years at Vanderbilt University, Psychology Department, investigating visual attention through EEG measures (ERPs and ssVEPs). As of August 2019, I have started a new postdoc position in the College of Nursing at USF, investigating objective measures of cognitive impairment in breast cancer survivors undergoing MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction). I aim to integrate Dr. Lengacher’s work with my own in studying cognitive flexibility and individual differences in learning dynamics, as well as determining which individuals may respond best to the MBSR intervention vis-a-vis other interventions and educational programs.


University of South Florida

College of Nursing

Postdoctoral Researcher






Research Topics

Reinforcement Learning




Visual attention


Oscillatory eeg


Face processing








USF Health

Guess I should stop wearing the Vanderbilt lanyard…

*** AUGust 2019 ***

I have started a new postdoc position at the University of South Florida! Very exciting to delve more into clinical work, broadly focused on cognitive impairment in breast cancer survivors. First goal for the semester will be to write a K99/R00 - let’s get this party started!!

*** May 2019 ***

Invited to give a symposium talk at SPR this year for the Faces of the Future Flash Talk on our work extending the Nat Comm paper on fear generalization. The results of this work have significant implications of safety processing during threat learning. Should be fun!

*** November 2018 ***

Part of my dissertation work on threat expectancy was finally accepted for publication in Biological Psychology!

The title of the paper is descriptive of the main results, but in short: threat reactivity (in terms of sympathetic responding measured as skin conductance responding) during initial threat acquisition later predicted extinction responding. Individuals who were highly reactive (greater SCR) displayed greater visuocortical discrimination, heart rate deceleration and self-reported threat expectancy in response to CS+ stimuli in extinction. Multivariate multiple regression was the main analysis performed, with model fitting of the self-reported threat expectancy ratings to the Rescorla-Wagner Learning Rule serving as a construct validity check.

Gruss, L. F., & Keil, A. (2019). Sympathetic responding to unconditioned stimuli predicts subsequent threat expectancy, orienting and visuocortical bias in human aversive Pavlovian conditioning. Biological Psychology, 140, 64-74.



*** October 2018 ***

The changeface project and its many iterations finally got accepted in Cortex, so exciting!!!

Campagnoli, R. R., Wieser, M. J., Gruss, L. F., McTeague, L. M., Boylan, M. R., & Keil, A. (2019). How the visual brain detects emotional changes in facial expressions: Evidence from driven and intrinsic brain oscillations. Cortex.