Ruth Ann Atchley

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Psychology
Assistant Vice Chancellor (Edwards Campus)
Primary office:
Fraser Hall
Room 423A
University of Kansas
1415 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045-7556

Ph.D., 1997, University of California, Riverside
Research Areas: Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Clinical Psychology


For most of my time at the University of Kansas, it have enjoyed my responsibility of teaching courses in cognitive neuroscience to undergraduate and graduate students. My teaching responsibilities changed when I became Chairperson and while I’m Chair I teach a 1:1 course assignment each year. Another change is that I now take on courses that the department needs, for example because of sabbatical leaves or retirements.

One surrogate for this missing classroom time, is my continuing heavy involvement in science education through my work with graduate and undergraduate students in my research lab. I maintain a very large lab. For example, during my busiest years I was the primary adviser for nine graduate students and I had 20 undergraduate who were working with me on research. I still maintain a lab size of at least 3 PhD students and 8-10 undergraduates. This gives me a chance to teach outside of the classroom and provide mentor-ship for junior scientists. These efforts resulted in the high honor of being awarded the Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett Women Mentoring Women Award. I also find it rewarding to support the teaching mission of the Psychology Department. I believe that our department is a real leader in innovative teaching practices. Therefore, even though right now I don’t get much chance to teach traditional courses, I try to leverage my love of teaching to help raise the quality of teaching in my department.

Teaching Interests

  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Research methods
  • Psychophysiology


In my psycholinguistic research, I work to try to understand how the two cerebral hemispheres employ separate and unique cognitive processes in order to collaboratively engage in language comprehension. This theoretical model continues to guide much of my research. As illustration, I would point to multiple on-going projects designed to understand hemispheric contributions to language and/or meaning comprehension from a normative approach (i.e. Atchley, Grimshaw, Schuster, & Gibson, 2011; Loveseth & Atchley, 2010; Young, Atchley, & Atchley, 2009; Atchley & Kwasny, 2003). I also engage in more translational research that looks at individual differences in language processing. In these experiments, I have examined the differences between good and poor readers (i.e., NSF grant BCS-0078778; research supported by the Research Council of Canada, MCRI-412-2001-1009; ongoing research with Dr. Sally Andrews at University of Sydney; Atchley, Halderman, Kwasny, & Buchanan, 2003; Atchley, Story & Buchanan, 2001). I have looked at differences between individuals with varying creative ability (i.e. ongoing collaborations with Dr. Barbara Kerr at KU; Atchley, 2009; Atchley, Keeney, & Burgess, 1999). And I have studied individuals who vary in verbal and nonverbal cognitive ability due to developmental age, dementia, or psychopathology (i.e. Grimshaw, Bryson, Atchley, & Humphrey, 2010; Atchley, String, Mathias, Ilardi, & Humphrey, 2007; Atchley, Rice, Betz, Kwasny, Sereno, & Johgman, 2006; Atchley, Ilardi, & Enloe, 2003).

I have also expanded on this research mission through collaborations with my KU clinical psychology collogues, to do clinical neuroscience research. Dr. Ilardi and I discovered evidence for negative bias in language processing with individuals with depression and even in individuals who were previously depressed but no longer show depression symptoms (Atchley, Ilardi, Young, Stroupe, O’Hare, Bistricky, Collison, Gibson, & Schuster, in press; Atchley, Stringer, Mathia, Ilardi, & Minatrea, 2007; Atchley, Ilardi, & Enloe, 2003; Enloe, Ilardi, Atchley, Cromwell, & Sewell, 2001). This research, through support from the NIMH (MH067508), expanded to include the analysis of electrophysiological signals that provide evidence of attentional and linguistic processing biases in depressed (Atchley, et al., under review; Zhong, Zhu, Yao, & Atchley, 2011; Ilardi, Atchley, Enloe, Kwasny, & Garratt, 2007), and most recently formerly depressed or depression vulnerable participants (Bistricky, Ingram, & Atchley, 2011; Bistricky, Atchley, Ingram, & OHare, 2014).

I have also helped my clinical colleagues see the direct relevance of cognitive neuroscience theory to the understanding of depression, anxiety (O’Hare & Atchley, 2011), pain disorders (Hamilton, Atchley, Karlson, Taylor, & McCurdy, 2011; Hamilton, Pressman, Lillis, Atchley, Karlson, & Stevens, 2011), and with individuals showing symptoms of schizotypy (Grimshaw, Bryson, Atchley & Humphrey, 2010). We have enjoyed the publication of a theory-based book co-authored with Dr. Ingram and Dr. Zindel Segal, titled Vulnerability to Depression: From Cognitive Neuroscience to Prevention and Treatment (2011). This text was reviewed as “an essential text for researchers, clinicians, and graduate students wanting a clear, up-to-date, multifaceted understanding of research in depression” by Dr. Ronald Siegel of Harvard Medical School. And, finally, we recently published a review of electrophysiological markers of vulnerability to mood disorder in the prestigious Psychological Bulletin and Review (Bistricky, Ingram, & Atchley, 2011). All of the theory-building and empirical research that I fostered through my collaborative efforts has helped me to impact the broader conversation in psychology and promote the growth of inter-disciplinary collaboration between cognitive, clinical, and neuroscientists.

Research Interests

  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Clinical neuroscience
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Electrophysiology

Selected Publications

Lepping, R., Atchley, A., Chrysikou, E., Laura, M., Clair, A. A, Ingram, R., Simmons, W. K, & Savage, C. (in press). Neural Processing of Emotional Musical and Nonmusical Stimuli in Depression. Plos One.

Gibson, L., Atchley, R. A., Voyer, D., & Schuster, J. (2015). Detection of Sarcastic Speech: The Role of the Right Hemisphere in Ambiguity Resolution. Laterality .

Azevedo, N., Atchley, R. A., Kehayia, E., & Schuster, J. (2015). Electrifying the Lexical Decision: ERP Components that Reflect Lexical Access. The Mental Lexicon, 10(3), 339-363.

Azevedo, N., Kehayia, E., Atchley, A., & Vasavan, N. (2015). Lexicality judgements in healthy aging and in individuals with Alzheimer's disease: Effect of neighbourhood density. Mental Lexicon,(10(2)), 286-311.

Bistricky, S., Atchley, R. A., Ingram, R., & O'Hare, A. (2014). Biased Processing of Sad Facial Expression: An ERP Marker for Depression Vulnerability. Cognitive, Behavioral and Affective Neuroscience, 28(3), 470-492.

Atchley, R. A., Strayer, D., & Atchley, P. (2012). Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning Through Immersion in Natural Settings. PLOS-One.

Hamilton, N., Pressman, M., Lillis, T., Atchley, R. A., Karlson, C., & Stevens, N. (2012). Evaluating Evidence for the Role of Sleep in Fibromyalgia: A Test of the Sleep and Pain Diathesis Model. Cognitive Therapy and Research.

Hamilton, N. A., Atchley, R. A., Karlson, C. W., Taylor, D., & McCurdy, D. (2012). The Role of Sleep and Attention in the Etiology and Maintenance of Fibromyalgia. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(1), 81-93.

Atchley, R. A., Ilardi, S., Young, K. M., Stroupe, N., O’Hare, A., Bistricky, S., Collison, E., Gibson, L., & Schuster, J. (2012). Depression Reduces Perceptual Sensitivity for Positive Words and Pictures. Cognition and Emotion, 26(8), 1359-1370.

Ingram, R. E., Atchley, R. A., & Segal, Z. V. (2011). Vulnerability to Depression: From Cognitive Neuroscience to Clinical Strategies , New York: Guilford Publications.

Atchley, R. A. (2011). Do the early attentional components of ERP’s reflect attentional bias in depression? It depends on the stimulus presentation time. Clinical Neurophysiology, 122(7), 1371-1381.

Landau, M. J., Vess, M., Arndt, J., Sullivan, D., Rothschild, Z. K., & Atchley, R. A. (2011). Embodied metaphor and the “true” self: Priming entity expansion and protection influences intrinsic self-expressions in self-perceptions and interpersonal behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(1), 79-87.

Atchley, R. A., Grimshaw, G., Schuster, J., & Gibson, L. (2011). Examining Lateralized Lexical Ambiguity Processing Using Dichotic and Cross-Modal Tasks. Neuropsychologia, 49(5), 1044-1051.

Bistricky, S., Ingram, R., & Atchley, R. A. (2011). Facial Affect Processing and Depression Susceptibility: Cognitive Biases and Cognitive Neuroscience. Psychological Bulletin and Review, 137(6), 998-1028.

Lovseth, K., & Atchley, R. A. (2010). Examining Lateralized Semantic Access Using Pictures. Brain and Cognition, 72(2), 202-209.

Grimshaw, G. M., Bryson, F. M., & Atchley, R. A. (2010). Semantic ambiguity resolution in positive schizotypy: A right hemisphere interpretation. Neuropsychology, 24(1), 130-138.

Young, K., Atchley, R. A., & Atchley, P. (2009). Offset Masking in a Divided Visual Field Study. Laterality, 14, 473-494.

Ilardi, S. S., Atchley, R. A., Enloe, A., Kwasny, K., & Garratt, G. (2007). Disentangling Attentional Biases and Attentional Deficits in Depression: An Event-Related Potential P300 Analysis. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 31, 175-187.

Atchley, R. A., & Ilardi, S. S. (2007). The Promise of Cognitive Neuroscience for Advancing Depression Research. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 31, 141-145.

Atchley, R. A., Stringer, R., Mathias, E., Ilardi, S., & Minatrea, A. (2007). The Right Hemisphere's Contribution to Emotional Word Processing in Currently Depressed, Remitted Depressed, and Never-Depressed Individuals. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 20(2), 145-160.

Atchley, R. A., Ilardi, S. S., & Enloe, A. (2003). Hemispheric asymmetry in the lexical processing of emotion: The effect of current and past depression. Brain and Language, 84(1), 105-119.

Banich, M. T., Milham, M., & Atchley, R. A. (2000). Prefrontal regions play a predominant role in imposing and attentional shift: Evidence from fMRI. Cognitive Brain Research, 10, 1-9.

Selected Grants

Atchley, Ruth A., (Principal), Nature and Cognitive Restoration: How does the Brain Behave in a Non-digital World, National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, $50,000, (01/01/2013 - 12/31/2015) . Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded.

Atchley, Ruth A., (Co-Principal), Equipment to Enhance Training for Health Professionals, D76HP20906-01-00, HRSA-ARRA, $109,205, (01/01/2010 - 12/31/2011) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Atchley, Ruth A., (Co-Principal), The Relationship between Attachment and Generosity, Science of Generosity-University of Notre Dame, Templeton Foundation, $150,000, (01/01/2010 - 12/31/2011) . Other University. Status: Funded.

Atchley, Ruth A., (Co-Principal), Electrophysiological Assessment of Depressive Cognition, R24MH67508, NIH37530, NIMH, $719,052, (01/01/2004 - 12/31/2008) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Atchley, Ruth A., Word in the Mind, Words in the Brain, Research Council of Canada-Major Collaborative Research Initiatives, $2,467,990, (01/01/2002 - 12/31/2006) . Federal. Status: Funded.

Atchley, Ruth A., (Principal), Exploring the Contribution of the Cerebral Hemispheres to Language Comprehension Deficits in Adults with Developmental Language Disorder, BCS-0078778, NSF, $60,911, (01/01/2000 - 12/31/2002) . Federal. Status: Funded.

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