Allyson Mackey

5 Allyson Mackey_BW


  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2020-2022
  • Child & Brain Development


  • University of Pennsylvania
Department of Psychology


  • United States


PhD (Neuroscience), University of California, Berkeley
BS (Biological Sciences), Stanford University


Children today will be responsible for solving our world’s toughest problems including climate and inequality.

Allyson Mackey is interested in how children learn problem solving skills: how they build reasoning through practice, creativity through play, and curiosity through exploration. She studies how children’s early experiences shape their ability to learn new skills, their brain plasticity. Negative experiences, like trauma and poverty, may restrict brain plasticity, and positive experiences, such as high-quality early education and supportive parenting, may promote brain plasticity. Mackey’s work maps the variability in brain plasticity to inform the type and timing of educational interventions.


Association for Psychological Science Rising Star Award

Jacobs Early Career Research Fellowship


Relevant Publications

Leonard, J.A. , Martinez, D. N.,  Dashineau, S., Park, A.T. , & Mackey, A. P. (2019). Children Persist Less When Adults Take Over. in press at Child Development

Leonard, J.A., Romeo, R.R., Park, A., Takada, M.E., Robinson, S.T., Grotzinger, H., Last, B.S., Finn, A.S., Gabrieli, J.D.E., & Mackey, A.P. (2019) The neural correlates of reasoning differ by socioeconomic status in development. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 36, 100641.

Park A.T. , Leonard J.A., Saxler P., Cyr A.B., Gabrieli J.D.E, & Mackey A.P. (2018) Amygdala-medial prefrontal functional connectivity relates to stress exposure and mental health in early childhood. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 13(4): 430-439. 

Mackey, A. P., Finn, A. S., Leonard, J. A., Jacoby-Senghor, D. S., West, M. R., Gabrieli, C. F. O., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2015). Neuroanatomical correlates of the income-achievement gap. Psychological Science, 26(6), 925–933.

Mackey, A. P., Miller Singley, A. T., & Bunge, S. A. (2013). Intensive reasoning training alters patterns of brain connectivity at rest. The Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(11), 4796–4803.