Karen Quigley, Ph.D, Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University and EAI faculty member, discusses how she is using machine learning in her research to help identify the unique physiological signatures that occur as people experience feelings like happiness, sadness, or anger as they engage in real-world settings.
Professor Karen Quigley is an affective scientist and biological psychologist in the Department of Psychology. She explores and observes the broad range of emotional experiences that can naturally occur in both everyday life and laboratory settings.
Quigley’s basic science examines the psychophysiological, behavioral, and contextual features of experiences, like emotion and stress. That involves looking at how sensory signaling from the body impacts affective experiences, behavior, and physiology, and more broadly, how the body and brain work together to create experiences and behavior. Recently, her work has focused on understanding the vast variation in physiological patterns that occur during emotional experiences. Such experiences described by words (such as anger) can have several different biological and subjective features across instances. She elucidates how a person’s biological patterns associated with their experiences of anger, for example, can differ in various contexts and from the biological patterns of others.
She aims to take this study of emotion beyond the laboratory to data-driven models of real-life experience and the instance-to-instance variations in affective and emotional experience. That has involved designing a new biologically triggered experience sampling methodology to enhance the efficiency of sampling self-reports, alongside multimodal measures of physiology, behavior, and context.
Quigley’s applied research assesses affective experience and health outcomes in individuals with negative functional impacts from major life events, like a military deployment or community terrorism act. She is also interested in using health technology to track and provide patients with feedback about their physiological data to motivate them to make behavior changes, such as reducing pain, improving sleep, or increasing physical activity.
Quigley is currently consulting editor and was previously an associate editor for the journal Psychophysiology, and now sits on the editorial boards of Affective Science and Biological Psychology. She is a former president of the Society for Psychophysiological Research, a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, and an inaugural fellow of the Society for Psychophysiological Research. She earned her doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees from The Ohio State University.