Neurocognitive Laboratory

The Neurocognitive Laboratory is directed by Sara Jo Nixon, PhD. Dr. Nixon uses neurobehavioral methods and models to examine the acute and chronic effects of alcohol and other drugs in her laboratory. Within her clinical research, her team also explores sex differences, the effects of age, and the import of ethnic/racial minority status.

Because of the complex nature of substance abuse, Dr. Nixon’s work uses comprehensive behavioral assessments including neuropsychological testing, brain electrophysiology (electroencephalography and event-related potentials), and clinical research interviews. In addition to neurobehavioral research, Dr. Nixon has sustained a strong interest in community outreach and education. Her continued commitment to community outreach is reflected in her on-going work focusing on the cognitive, psychological and social concomitants of substance use.


Principal Investigator, PRofessor, Chef & Director

Sara Jo Nixon, PhD

Dr. Nixon’s clinical research program focuses on the neurobehavioral concomitants of substance use and abuse using both behavioral and neurophysiological methods. She and her team are particularly interested in testing conceptual models which might inform treatment and intervention efforts and in exploring issues of sex, age, and race/ethnicity.

Sara Jo Nixon

Assistant Professor

Ben Lewis, PhD

Ben joined the Neurocognitive Laboratory in 2012 after receiving his doctorate from the University of Kentucky. His master’s research focused on neurobiological deficits associated with fetal alcohol exposure. His doctoral work involved development of novel medications for treatment of alcoholism using molecular, cellular, and preclinical behavioral models. He has been a member of the Research Society on Alcoholism since 2005.

Ben Lewis

Graduate Research Assistant

Christian Garcia

Christian joined the Neurocognitive Laboratory as an undergraduate level research assistant in 2014. In the spring of 2014, he was accepted as a University of Florida College of Medicine scholar for the University Scholars program (USP). In fall 2016 Christian became a candidate in the Behavioral Cognitive Neuroscience program within the University of Florida’s Psychology Department. Christian is a member of the Research Society on Alcoholism.

Research Assistant

Christopher Day

Christopher assists with administering protocol elements within the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study to participating families. Assist in outreach activities including distributing recruitment materials and identifying potential recruitment activities.

Join us

Prospective graduate students:

Dr. Nixon is able to accept students applying through the following areas:

Preferred skills:

  • Experience with human subjects research, particularly with treatment populations
  • Advanced knowledge of research methodology and design
  • Advanced knowledge of statistics
  • Experience with Matlab, SAS, and E-Prime
  • Motivation to learn necessary skills on the fly

Our lab is constantly accepting undergraduate research assistants to aid in the day to day functioning of our lab. You will be expected to code and input research data from various studies as well as assist with running subjects. Email us at for more information.

Current Studies

Title: Cognitive and emotional processing in women and men

Description: The purpose of this research study is to study the effects of long-term chronic alcoholism on cognitive and emotional processing by comparing detoxified alcoholic and community comparison groups of men and women. The study is funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of the NIH Institutes.

Flyer: Research Volunteers Needed Click for more information

Research Volunteers