Jennifer O'Brien

Jennifer O'Brien

Associate Professor and St. Petersburg campus Chair


Office: DAV 112A
Phone: 727/873-4415



Postdoctoral Fellowship, Cognitive Aging Lab/Neurophysiology of Aging Lab, School of Aging Studies/Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, University of South Florida

Dr. Jennifer O’Brien is focused on attention. As director of the Motivated Attention and Perception Lab and PACT (Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training) Labs, O’Brien uses behavioral and electroencephalography (EEG) methods to investigate human visual perception and attention. Her goal is to reveal how our attentional system prioritizes and processes information across the lifespan.

O’Brien is the recipient of numerous internal and external research grants. In 2021, she was part of a team that received a $44.5-million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a clinical trial seeking to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. O’Brien and her colleagues are using the funding to determine whether cognitive training can reduce cognitive decline in older adults.

O’Brien teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in physiological psychology, statistics and research methods. An avid instructor and science advocate, O’Brien trains her students in the scientific method and how to conduct scientific psychology experiments. She is the recipient of an outstanding advisor award for her work with students.


Ph.D. Bangor University


Human perception, attention, decision-making, and cognitive aging

Dr. O’Brien’s research focuses on the fundamental mechanisms behind perception, attention, and decision-making in healthy adults and in changes to these systems during normal and abnormal aging using both behavioral and neurophysiologicial methods. She is especially interested in the integral role that motivational value has in the way we perceive and attend to stimuli in our environment.


Cognition, Neuroscience, & Social


O’Brien, J.L., Lister, J.L., Fausto, B.A., Morgan, D.G., Maeda, H., Andel, R., & Edwards, J.D. (2020). Are auditory processing and cognitive performance assessments overlapping or distinct? Parsing the auditory behavior of older adults. International Journal of Audiology. doi: 10.1080/14992027.2020.1791366

Buján Mera, A., Lister, J. J., O’Brien, J. L., & Edwards, J. D. (2019). Cortical auditory evoked potentials in mild cognitive impairment: Evidence from a temporal-spatial principal component analysis. Psychophysiology, e13466. doi: 10.1111/psyp/13466

Lister, J. J., Harrison Bush, A., O’Brien, J. L., Julbe-Delgado, D. (2019). Hearing and cognition: Relationships and implications for practice. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Leader, 24(7), 20-23.

O’Brien, J. L., Jacob, M. L., & King, M. (2019). Preliminary evidence of biased attentional mechanisms and reward processing in adults with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 83(2), 128-151. doi: 10.1521/bumc.2019.83.2.128

O’Brien, J. L., Lister, J. J., Fausto, B., Clifton, G. K., & Edwards, J. D. (2017). Cognitive training enhances auditory attention efficiency in older adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 9, 322. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00322

O’Brien, J. L., Nikjeh, D. A., & Lister, J. J. (2015). Interaction of musicianship and aging: A comparison of cortical auditory evoked potentials. Behavioral Neurology, 2015, 545917. doi: 10.1155/2015/545917

O’Brien, J. L., Lister, J. J., Peronto, C. L., & Edwards, J. D. (2015). Perceptual and cognitive neural correlates of the Useful Field of View Test in older adults. Brain Research, 1624, 167-174. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2015.07.032

O’Brien, J. L., Edwards, J. D., Maxfield, N. D., Pertonto, C. L., Williams, V., & Lister, J. J. (2013). Cognitive training and selective attention in the aging brain: An electrophysiological study. Clinical Neurophysiology, 124(11), 2198-2208. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2013.05.012

O’Brien, J. L. & Raymond, J. E. (2012). Learned predictiveness speeds visual processing. Psychological Science, 23(4), 359-363. doi: 10.1177/0956797611429800

Raymond, J. E. & O’Brien, J. L. (2009). Selective visual attention and motivation: The consequences of value learning in an attentional blink task. Psychological Science, 20(8), 981-988. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02391.x