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 uses behavioral and electroencephalography (EEG) methods to investigate human visual perception and attention. Her focus is on 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 Institute on Aging (NIA) for a clinical trial seeking to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in cognitively healthy older adults. In 2022, she and colleagues received a $24.3-million grant from the NIA for a clinical trial seeking to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults with cognitive impairment. O’Brien and her colleagues are using the funding to determine whether cognitive training can reduce incidence of cognitive decline.

O’Brien teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in research methods, statistics and physiological psychology. 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


Nicholson, J. S., Hudak, E. M, Phillips, C. B., Chanti-Ketterl, M., O’Brien, J. L. ... Edwards, J. D. (2022). The Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training (PACT) randomized clinical trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 123, 1-8. doi. 10.1016/j.cct.2022.106978.

Bell, K. L., Lister, J. J., Conter, R., Harrison Bush, A. L., O’Brien, J. L. (2021). Cognitive event- related potential responses differentiate older adults with and without probable mild cognitive impairment. Experimental Aging Research, 47(2), 145-164 doi: 10.1080/0361073X.2020.1861838

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

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., 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