Assistant Professor of Psychology
Neuroendocrinology, decision-making and executive function, substance use, long-term impact of environmental factors on behavior and the brain
Dr. Orsini received her B.S. in Psychology with a Behavioral Neuroscience concentration from Washington College in Chestertown, MD, after which she began graduate training in the Biopsychology division of the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. During her graduate training, Dr. Orsini's research centered on elucidating the neural circuitry that mediates the persistence of fear memories after extinction learning, with a particular focus on interactions between the basolateral amygdala, ventral hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. After receiving an M.S. and PhD. from the University of Michigan, Dr. Orsini began a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Florida, where she explored whether these same circuits involved in pathological fear are also recruited during active choice behaviors and whether similar dysfunction in these structures and pathways underlies maladaptive decision-making associated with substance use. As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at UT Austin, her research continues to focus on uncovering how neural mechanisms that normally govern adaptive decision-making become compromised in pathological conditions, including substance use and post-traumatic stress disorders. In addition, Dr. Orsini's lab tackles the question of how gonadal hormones regulate different forms of decision-making, and whether dysfunction in this regulation also contributes to deficits in decision-making in psychiatric diseases.