Lisa  Gatzke-Kopp 

photo of Lisa Gatzke-Kopp

Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Contact Information

228 Health and Human Development Building
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park PA 16802


(fax) 814-863-7963

Teaching Interests

At the graduate level I teach a course in developmental biopsychology that examines neuroscience as one level of analysis from which to study human development and behavior. I also teach a graduate course on prenatal and infant development that stems from my interests in early how early environmental factors influence brain development. At the undergraduate level I primarily teach a course in developmental psychopathology.

Research Interests

My research focus is on the development of externalizing disorders in childhood, which include attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), substance use disorders (SUDs), and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) in adulthood. Specifically I am interested in (1) the development of these syndromes and (2) whether greater understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie these behaviors can improve treatment strategies.

Developmental research suggests that individuals vary in terms of the vulnerability or susceptibility to certain risk factors. For instance, not all children who grow up in high risk homes develop clinical problems. I am interested in what makes individuals more vulnerable and how initial vulnerability is established within the developing nervous system. To this aim, I am currently conducting a research study assessing decision making strategies in 10 year-old children who have participated in a longitudinal research study since birth. This project is designed to identify a range of “impulsive” decision making strategies as well as provide a deeper understanding of the biological contextual factors that affect gene expression and “program” the developing nervous system.

I am also interested in how different children may arrive at suboptimal outcomes for different reasons. Children are often identified as being at risk through behavioral indicators such as aggression. But different children may be aggressive for different reasons and these differences may influence propensity to respond to prevention and intervention programs. We recently completed a longitudinal clinical trial of children reported to be high in aggressive behavior in kindergarten. Children were given a psychophysiological assessment (cardiac, electrodermal, EEG, and ERP) before being randomly assigned to an intervention condition, at the end of the intervention, and one year after the intervention ended. This study has yielded extensive data on a sample that is often underrepresented in research and our work to date has addressed basic developmental patterns of neurobiological function, physiological profiles associated with psychopathology, and heterogeneity underlying behavioral syndromes. We are currently working on examining the data to better understand moderators and mediators of intervention outcomes.


B.S., 1996, University of California, Santa Barbara, Biopsychology
Ph.D., 2003, University of Sourthern California, Clinical Neuroscience

Professional Experience

2013-Present: Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University

2007-2013: Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University

2008-Present: Graduate Faculty, Neuroscience Program, Pennsylvania State University

Selected Publications

Fortunato, C. F.*, Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., & Ram, N. (2013). Associations between respiratory sinus arrhythmia reactivity and internalizing and externalizing symptoms are emotion specific. Cognitive and Affective Behavioral Neuroscience, 13, 238-251.

Beauchaine, T. P., & Gatzke-Kopp, L. M. (2012). Instantiating the multiple levels of analysis perspective into a program of study on externalizing behavior. Developmental and Psychopathology, 24, 1003-1018.

Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Greenberg, M., Fortunato, C. K.*, & Coccia, M. A. (2012). Aggression as an equifinal outcome of distinct neurocognitive and neuroaffective processes. Development and Psychopathology, 24, 985-1002.

Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Jetha, M. K*., & Segalowitz, S. J. (2012). The role of resting frontal EEG asymmetry in psychopathology: Afferent or efferent filter? Developmental Psychobiology.

Cipriano, E. A.*, Skowron, E. A., & Gatzke-Kopp, L.M. (2011). Preschool children's physiology moderates relations between violence exposure and behavioral adjustment. Child Maltreatment, 16, 205-215.

Gatzke-Kopp, L. M. (2011). The canary in the coalmine: The sensitivity of mesolimbic dopamine to environmental adversity during development.  Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 35, 794-803.

Skowron, E. A., Loken, E., Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Cipriano, E. A.*, Rovers, P.*, Van Epps, J.*, Gowda, A.*, & Ammerman, R. T. (2011). Mapping cardiac physiology, parenting, and dyadic processes in maltreating mother-child dyads. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 663-674.

Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., Beauchaine, T. P., Shannon, K. E., Chipman, J., Fleming, A. P., Crowell, S. E., Liang, O, Johnson, L. C., & Aylward, E. (2009). Neurological correlates of reward responding in adolescents with conduct disorder and/or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 118, 203-213.

Beauchaine, T. P., Neuhaus, E., Brenner, S. L., & Gatzke-Kopp, L. (2008). Ten good reasons to consider biological variables in prevention and intervention research. Development and Psychopathology, 20, 745-774.

Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., & Beauchaine, T. P. (2007). Direct and passive prenatal nicotine exposure and the development of externalizing psychopathology. Child Psychiatry and Human Development,38, 255-269.

Curriculum Vitae

.pdf icon Lisa Gatzke-Kopp vitae

Strategic Themes

  • Human Development
  • Domains of Health and Behavior