Allyson Mackey is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is also the leader of the Changing Brain Lab. She is interested in how changes in the brain give rise to changes in the mind, both as development unfolds, and in response to experience over the course of development, maturational changes restrict plasticity. These changes are generally adaptive as they allow for the development of mature function, and prevent drastic remodeling in response to stress or injury. However, reduced plasticity limits the acquisition of new facts and skills. Therefore, developing brains must strike a balance between plasticity/vulnerability and stability/protection. The Changing Brain Lab studies the mechanisms by which environmental factors tip this balance to shorten or shift windows of peak plasticity.
Dr. Mackey’s years in inner-city public schools, first as a student, and then as a researcher, have led her to concentrate her translational work on reducing the income achievement gap. Ultimately, the goal of her research is to promote positive educational and health outcomes for all individuals, regardless of socioeconomic background.