Dr. Killgore is the Director of the Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN) Lab in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona. He is a clinical neuropsychologist and research neuroscientist whose research focuses on understanding the brain systems involved in emotional processes and cognitive performance. For the past decade, his work has focused nearly exclusively on the factors affecting the mental health, wellbeing, and performance of military personnel and combat Veterans. His work combines neurocognitive assessment with state-of-the-art neuroimaging methods to study the role of emotion in complex cognitive processes such as moral judgment, decision-making, and risk-taking. He is also interested in how these brain-behavior systems may be affected by environmental and lifestyle factors such as insufficient sleep, nutrition, light exposure, physical activity, and stimulants such as caffeine. In particular, Dr. Killgore has explored the role of sleep as a mediator of psychological and emotional health and the potential role of insufficient sleep as a contributor to psychiatric disturbance, emotional dysregulation, and risk-related behavior. He is currently conducting several Department of Defense funded studies on problems affecting military personnel including mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
As Principal investigator, Dr. Killgore currently has over $15.5 million in active grant funding from the Department of Defense to study methods for accelerating recovery from mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and to develop online training programs for enhancing emotional intelligence and resilience skills in military personnel. Presently, Dr. Killgore is principal investigator on multiple projects, including three aimed at improving sleep-wake patterns among individuals with mild traumatic brain injuries and/or post-traumatic stress disorder, while a fourth study is focused on modeling the recovery patterns of brain connectivity and cognitive performance at various stages of recovery following concussion, a fifth study is focused on developing internet-based methods for enhancing emotional intelligence and resilience capacities, and a sixth project aimed at identifying the personality factors that contribute to the ability to cope with emotional stress. He recently completed a DARPA funded study to identify the neurocircuitry that underlies the ability to sustain cognitive resilience during periods of sleep deprivation.
Dr. Killgore also has over 15 years of military service, including 5 years on active duty as a Medical Service Corps officer and Research Psychologist in the United States Army during the Global War on Terror. While stationed at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, DC, Dr. Killgore served as Chief of the Neurocognitive Performance Branch and Special Volunteer with the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders within the National Institutes of Health. During his service, he was awarded the COL Edward L. Buescher Award for Excellence in Research by a Young Scientist. Dr. Killgore remains active as a Research Psychologist in the U.S. Army Reserve, currently holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
From 2000-2010, Dr. Killgore was an Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, with a 5-year leave of absence during his active military service. He was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in 2010 with promotion to Associate Professor at Harvard in 2012. There, he served as Director of the Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA. He continues to hold a part-time appointment at the rank of Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School.
Presently, he serves as editor of several journals including Dataset Papers in Neuroscience, Dataset Papers in Psychiatry, and the Journal of Sleep Disorders: Treatment and Care. He is also on the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Eating Disorders. During the course of his career, Dr. Killgore has published over 160 scientific articles and book chapters, and has co-authored over 400 published abstracts and conference proceedings with his students, advisees, and fellows.
National recognition includes awards such as the 2012 Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award in Neuroscience.
Dr. Killgore received his Bachelor degree in Psychology summa cum laude with distinction from the University of New Mexico, followed by a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Texas Tech University, with an internship in Clinical Psychology at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Killgore then completed postdoctoral fellowships in clinical neuropsychology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. As a research fellow at McLean Hospital with Harvard Medical School, he specialized in cognitive neuroimaging.
In 2014, Dr. Killgore joined the University of Arizona College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry.
Dr. Killgore's research has emphasized the study of higher order cognition and executive functions and how these cognitive abilities are influenced and guided by subtle affective processes. Recent sleep-related research has focused on the effects of prolonged sleep deprivation, chronic sleep restriction, and the use of stimulant countermeasures on the cognitive-affective systems within the brain. This line of investigation suggests that sleep deprivation alters the metabolic activity within several important affect-regulating regions of the brain, including the medial prefrontal cortex, resulting in subtle but profound effects on specific aspects of affect and cognition. These changes appear to impair the ability to use affective processes to guide judgment and decision-making, particularly in high-risk or emotionally charged morally relevant situations. His recent investigations also suggest that while commonly used stimulants such as caffeine, modafinil, and dextroamphetamine are highly effective at reversing sleep-loss induced deficits in alertness and vigilance, their restorative effects on the cognitive-affective decision-making systems of the brain may be much more limited.