Skip to main content
COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.

Get the latest public health information from CDC:
Get the latest research information from NIH:

Profile Image


Lauren Y Atlas, Ph.D.

Section on Affective Neuroscience and Pain

Building 10 Room CRC RM 4-1741
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health National Institutes of Health MSC 1302
Bethesda MD 20892
Office: (301) 827-0214

Dr. Atlas received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Chicago in 2003, and her Ph.D. in Psychology in 2011 from Columbia University, where she studied under the mentorship of Dr. Tor D. Wager. Her doctoral work combined functional magnetic resonance imaging, experimental psychology, and psychopharmacology to examine the mechanisms by which beliefs and expectations influence pain and its modulation, and her dissertation was awarded with Distinction. Dr. Atlas's postdoctoral research was conducted in Dr. Elizabeth A. Phelps' laboratory at New York University, where she integrated her work on the neural mechanisms of expectancy and aversive learning with computational modeling and psychophysiology. In July 2014, Dr. Atlas joined the NIH as an NCCIH Investigator and Chief of the Section on Affective Neuroscience and Pain. Her laboratory uses a multi-modal approach to investigate how expectations and learning influence pain and emotion, and how these factors influence clinical outcomes.

Work in the Section on Affective Neuroscience and Pain focuses on characterizing the psychological and neural mechanisms by which expectations and other cognitive and affective factors influence pain, emotional experience, and clinical outcomes. Our approach is multimodal: we integrate experimental psychology, neuroimaging, psychophysiology, computational approaches, and other interventions to understand how psychological and contextual factors influence subjective experience. Current projects focus on dissociating components of expectancy, relating pain with other types of hedonic affective responses, and understanding various forms of expectancy (e.g., placebo effects versus predictions based on cues). Long term goals include revealing how specific features of the clinical context and interpersonal aspects influence patient outcomes, as well as determining whether expectancy based processing is altered in specific patient populations.

Staff Image
  • 1) Atlas LY, Lindquist MA, Bolger N, & Wager TD (2014)
  • Brain mediators of the effects of noxious heat on pain
  • Pain, 155, 1632-1648
  • 3) Atlas LY, Wielgosz J, Whittington RA, & Wager TD (2014)
  • Specifying the non-specific factors underlying opioid analgesia: Expectancy, attention, and affect
  • Psychopharmacology, 231, 813-823
  • 4) Robinson LF, Atlas LY, Wager TD (2014)
  • Dynamic functional connectivity using State-based Dynamic Community Structure: Method and application to opioid analgesia
  • Neuroimage
  • 5) Wager TD, Atlas LY, Lindquist MA, Roy M, Woo C & Kross (2013)
  • An fMRI-based neurologic signature of physical pain
  • NEJM , 368, 1388-1397
  • 6) Atlas LY, Whittington RA, Lindquist MA, Wielgosz J, Sonty N, & Wager TD (2013)
  • Dissociable influences of opiates and expectations on pain
  • The Journal of Neuroscience, 32, 8053-8064
  • 8) Atlas LY, Bolger N, Lindquist MA, and Wager TD (2010)
  • Brain mediators of predictive cue effects on perceived pain
  • The Journal of Neuroscience, 31, 12964-12977
View Pubmed Publication