Steven Verney Lab

Director: Steven Verney

Dr. Verney uses pupillary dilation response and eye tracking to measure cognitive processing in various psychopathologies, and also studies cultural influences and biases in cognitive assessment (Verney et al., 2005) that may add to health disparities. He is the Research Core director of the New Mexico Center for the Advancement of Research and Engagement in Health Disparities at UNM, and is also conducting health disparities (e.g., stroke) in ethnic minority communities, especially American Indians. He gathers multiple psychophysiological processes in concert, a powerful methodology in cognitive neuroscience research. For example, he will combine pupillary dilation response indexing mental effort (Beatty, 1982) with EEG to better understand the neural timing involved in information processing efficiency. Eye tracking measures indexing real time visual attention (e.g., West Chanon & Hopfinger, 2008) will add to EEG research as well. The PCNC’s IT upgrade and Field Analyst will lessen the time and expense involved in developing new research paradigms and analyzing this complex data.

Research Interests

Additional Research Interests Include:

  • Cultural factors in cognitive assessment
  • Cognitive aging
  • Physical and mental health disparities
  • Wellbeing in older Native Americans
  • Psychophysiological and information processing indices of cognition

Selected Publications

Verney, S.P., Gibbons, L.E., Dmitrieva, N.O., Kueider, A.M., Williams, M.W., Meyer, O.L., Manly, J.J., Siscos, S.M., & Marsiske, M. (2019). Health literacy, sociodemographic factors, and cognitive training in the active study of older adults. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1002/gps.5051. Retrieved from:

Verney, S. P., Avila, M., Rodriguez Espinosa, P., Cholka, C. B., Benson, J., Baloo, A., & Pozernick, C. D. (2016). Culturally Sensitive Assessments as Strength-Based Approach to Wellness in Native Communities: A Community-Based Participatory Research Project. American Indian Alaska Native Mental Health Research, 23, 271-293.


Suchy-Dicey, A., Shibata, D., Best, L., Verney, S. P., Longstreth W. T. Jr., Lee, E.T., Okin, P.M., Devereux, R., O’Leary, M., Ali, T., Jensen, P. N., Muller, C., Nelson, L. A., Rhoades, E., Madhyastha, T., Grabowski, T. J.,  Beauchamp, N., Umans, J.G., & Buchwald, D. (2016).  Cranial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in elderly American Indians: Design, methods, and implementation of the Strong Heart Stroke Study. Neuroepidemiology, 47, 67-75. doi:10.1159/000443277.


Venner, K. L., & Verney, S. P. (2015). Motivational interviewing: Reduce student reluctance and increase engagement in learning multicultural concepts. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 46, 116-123.


Verney, S. P., Bennett, J., & Hamilton, J. (2015).  Cultural considerations in the neuropsychological assessment of American Indians/Alaska Natives.  In Richard Ferraro (Ed.), Minority and Cross-Cultural Aspects of Neuropsychological Assessment: Enduring and Emerging Trends, 2nd edition, 115-158. New York, NY: Psychology Press.


Avila, J. F., Verney, S. P., Kauzor, K., Flowers, A., Mehradfar, M., Razani, J. (January 9, 2018). Normative Data for Farsi-Speaking Iranians on Frequently Administered Measures of Executive Functioning. Applied Neuropsychology:  Adult, 0, 0.0. Retrieved from:


Bennett, J., Verney, S.P. (January 9, 2018). Linguistic factors associated with phonemic fluency performance in a sample of bilingual Hispanic undergraduate students.  Applied Neuropsychology:  Adult, 0, 0.0. Retrieved from:

Courses Taught

Psyc 374 Cross-Cultural Psychology

Psyc 450/508 Research with Diverse Populations

Psyc 450/516 Health Disparities


Dr. Verney's Lab Page:

Justina Avila, Ph.D.:

Justina has completed her fifth-year Puerto Rican doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology program at UNM. She received her M.A. in Clinical Psychology from CSU Northridge, where she studied the effects of acculturation on neuropsychological test performance in ethnically diverse individuals. Her current research interests involve examining culture and cognitive test performance in understudied minority groups, the intersectionality of gender and ethnicity in the diagnosis and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and addressing health disparities through the development of culturally valid assessments and techniques.


Juan Peña, M.S.

Juan is a third-year doctoral student in the UNM Clinical Psychology program and a Graduate Research Fellow with the National Science Foundation. His research interests revolve around health disparities with Latino immigrants and deportees. In particular, he is interested in border health issues, traumatic experiences across different stages of immigration, discrimination, acculturation process, and culturally valid assessments. He is also interested in mental health care access and utilization in diverse groups.


Alexis Burks, M.S.

Alexis is a first-year doctoral student in the UNM Clinical Psychology program. She received her Master’s degree at U of Texas Southwestern in Cognitive and Applied Neuroscience. She is interested in clinical neuropsychology, cultural factors in cognitive assessment, and health disparities.

Prospective clinical psychology doctoral students interested in working with Dr. Verney should have an interest in, and research experience with, at least one of the following:

  • Cultural issues and cognitive assessment
  • Health disparities in ethnic minority, especially Native American, populations
  • Information processing and psychophysiological measures of cognition

Prospective students may contact Dr. Verney at