Karin Schon, PhD

Karin Schon, Ph.D., received a joint B.A./M.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Hamburg in Germany in 1998, and her Ph.D. from the Department of Psychology at Boston University in 2005. Her dissertation focused on functional neuroimaging studies of working memory and long-term (episodic) memory formation under the mentorship of Prof. Chantal Stern. She then continued her work with Prof. Stern as a Postdoc. In 2010 she received a Pathway to Independence Career Development award from the National Institute on Aging to investigate the effects or cardio-respiratory fitness and exercise on the function and structure of the medial temporal hippocampal memory system. In May 2013 she joined the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology at the Boston University School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor where she is the Director of the Brain Plasticity and Neuroimaging Laboratory.

Dr. Schon’s brain plasticity research focuses on modulators of the medial temporal hippocampal system across the lifespan. Currently, she investigates the role of aerobic exercise, aging, and, more recently, chronic psychosocial stress, as modulators of cognitive function and brain health in aging and Alzheimer’s disease in humans. With her cognitive neuroscience research on chronic psychosocial stress she aims to take an anti-racist perspective by focusing on the impact of interpersonal and institutional racism on brain health in older African Americans. The long-term goal of this research to contribute to health policy change from a cognitive neuroscience perspective with the goal to eliminate brain health inequities.

Methods used include: Task-based, resting-state and high-resolution fMRI, structural MRI, cognitive testing, neuropsychology, exercise testing and training, and biomarker assays (e.g. neurotrophins, such as BDNF, IGF-1, and VEGF; salivary cortisol).

Keywords: cognitive neuroscience, cognitive neurobiology, brain plasticity, hippocampus, amygdala, medial temporal lobes, MRI, fMRI, episodic memory, emotion, aging, Alzheimer's disease, health disparities / inequities, chronic psychosocial stress, racism, discrimination, resilience, social and societal contributors to brain aging and brain health.

Assistant Professor
Boston University College of Arts and Sciences

Assistant Professor
Boston University College of Arts and Sciences
Psychological and Brain Sciences

Boston University
Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research

Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students)
Boston University School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences

Perceived racism as a chronic stressor and cognition in Black Seniors
03/01/2018 - 02/28/2023 (PI)
Alzheimer's Association

Psychosocial stressors and the hippocampal memory system in African American seniors
04/01/2019 - 03/31/2022 (PI)
NIH/National Institute on Aging

The entorhinal cortex and aerobic exericise in aging
08/15/2016 - 05/31/2021 (PI)
NIH/National Institute on Aging

Effectiveness of Bio-Electric Stimulation for the Treatment of Motor and Non-Motor Symptoms in Parkinson's Disease - A pilot study
01/20/2017 - 03/31/2020 (PI)
Immumax International Co Ltd.

04/01/2013 - 03/31/2018 (PI)
NIH/National Institute on Aging

09/30/2010 - 12/31/2012 (PI)
NIH/National Institute on Aging


Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

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  1. Kern KL, Storer TW, Schon K. Cardiorespiratory fitness, hippocampal subfield volumes, and mnemonic discrimination task performance in aging. Hum Brain Mapp. 2021 03; 42(4):871-892. PMID: 33325614; PMCID: PMC7856657; DOI: 10.1002/hbm.25259;
  2. Islam MR, Luo R, Valaris S, Haley EB, Takase H, Chen YI, Dickerson BC, Schon K, Arai K, Nguyen CT, Wrann CD. Diffusion tensor-MRI detects exercise-induced neuroplasticity in the hippocampal microstructure in mice. Brain Plast. 2020 Oct 01; 5(2):147-159. PMID: 33282678; PMCID: PMC7685674; DOI: 10.3233/BPL-190090;
  3. Coogan P, Schon K, Li S, Cozier Y, Bethea T, Rosenberg L. Experiences of racism and subjective cognitive function in African American women. Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2020; 12(1):e12067.View Related Profiles. PMID: 32782921; PMCID: PMC7409101; DOI: 10.1002/dad2.12067;
  4. Nauer RK, Schon K, Stern CE. Cardiorespiratory fitness and mnemonic discrimination across the adult lifespan. Learn Mem. 2020 03; 27(3):91-103. PMID: 32071255; PMCID: PMC7029721; DOI: 10.1101/lm.049197.118;
  5. Kronman CA, Kern KL, Nauer RK, Dunne MF, Storer TW, Schon K. Cardiorespiratory fitness predicts effective connectivity between the hippocampus and default mode network nodes in young adults. Hippocampus. 2020 05; 30(5):526-541. PMID: 31647603; PMCID: PMC7442492; DOI: 10.1002/hipo.23169;
  6. Nauer RK, Dunne MF, Stern CE, Storer TW, Schon K. Improving fitness increases dentate gyrus/CA3 volume in the hippocampal head and enhances memory in young adults. Hippocampus. 2020 05; 30(5):488-504. PMID: 31588607; PMCID: PMC7485880; DOI: 10.1002/hipo.23166;
  7. Whiteman AS, Young DE, Budson AE, Stern CE, Schon K. Entorhinal volume, aerobic fitness, and recognition memory in healthy young adults: A voxel-based morphometry study. Neuroimage. 2016 Feb 01; 126:229-38.View Related Profiles. PMID: 26631814; PMCID: PMC4733633; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.11.049;
  8. Nauer RK, Whiteman AS, Dunne MF, Stern CE, Schon K. Hippocampal subfield and medial temporal cortical persistent activity during working memory reflects ongoing encoding. Front Syst Neurosci. 2015; 9:30. PMID: 25859188; PMCID: PMC4372545; DOI: 10.3389/fnsys.2015.00030;
  9. Schon K, Newmark RE, Ross RS, Stern CE. A Working Memory Buffer in Parahippocampal Regions: Evidence from a Load Effect during the Delay Period. Cereb Cortex. 2016 May; 26(5):1965-74. PMID: 25662713; PMCID: PMC4830282; DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhv013;
  10. Ross RS, LoPresti ML, Schon K, Stern CE. Role of the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex during the disambiguation of social cues in working memory. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2013 Dec; 13(4):900-15. PMID: 23640112; PMCID: PMC3796192; DOI: 10.3758/s13415-013-0170-x;
Showing 10 of 19 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 19 publications over 10 distinct years, with a maximum of 4 publications in 2020


2015 Boston University: UROP Outstanding Mentor Award, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program
2015 Boston University School of Medicine: Junior Faculty Spivack Scholar 2015
2013 CCAD Junior Investigator, Charleston Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease
2010 NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00)
2005 Boston University: Felicia Sorembe Lambros Prize for Research
2005 Boston University: Kavita Jain Dissertation Award

My lab is always looking for mentees at the undergraduate and graduate student level who would like to gain research experience in human neuroimaging. I am also happy to serve on Senior thesis and dissertation committees that are generally related to my area of expertise. In addition, I would be happy to serve on Career Panels on STEM research, especially those geared toward women in STEM.

Available to Mentor as: (Review Mentor Role Definitions):
  • Advisor
  • Career Mentor
  • Co-Mentor or Peer Mentor
  • Diversity Mentor
  • Project Mentor
  • Research / Scholarly Mentor
Contact for Mentoring:
  • Email (see 'Contact Info')

72 E. Concord St Housman (R)
Boston MA 02118
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