Jessica Payne


E466 Corbett Family Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Download CV

Sleep, Stress, and Memory (SAM) Lab

Primary Area: Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Additional Areas: Clinical

Research and teaching interests

human memory, consolidation, sleep, stress, emotion, cognitive neuroscience


Dr. Jessica Payne is Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, where she directs the Sleep, Stress, and Memory (SAM) Lab. Dr. Payne’s research focuses on how sleep and stress independently and interactively influence learning, memory, emotion, and creativity. She teaches various courses in Psychology and Neuroscience, including a popular course entitled “The Sleeping Brain” for which she won Harvard University’s Bok Center Award for teaching excellence and Notre Dame’s Frank O’Malley award for undergraduate teaching and service and Rev. Edmund P. Joyce Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. She also won the Laird Cermak Award for her contribution to memory research, the Early Career Award from the Psychonomic Society, which is “the home for scientists who study how the mind works”, and was elected a Kavil Fellow with the National Academy of Sciences. Kavli fellows are young researchers who have already made recognized contributions to science, and 150 Kavli fellows have been elected into the National Academy of Sciences and 10 have been awarded Nobel Prizes. She was recently selected as the National Academy of Sciences 2021 Seymour Benzer/Sydney Brenner Lecturer. Her postdoctoral fellowship was split between Harvard University’s Psychology Department and Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology/Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Arizona


2006-2009 Harvard University Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology/Cognitive Neuroscience Advisors: Daniel Schacter and Robert Stickgold

2005-2006 Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Postdoctoral Fellow, Cognitive Neuroscience Advisor: Robert Stickgold

1999-2005 University of Arizona, Ph.D., Psychology/Cognitive Neuroscience Advisor: Lynn Nadel 1997-1999 Mount Holyoke College, M.A., Experimental Psychology

1991-1995 University of San Diego, B.A., Psychology, magna cum laude

Approach to Mentoring

I view mentorship as one of the most important things I do as a scientist, professor, and PI. Shortly after you join the lab (if not before), we will discuss mentorship at length during a formal “mentorship meeting”. What follows is a brief synopsis of my high-level thoughts about the mentor-mentee relationship, and what I’d like you to think about and do before you consider working with me. • At our mentorship meeting, I will be transparent about my mentorship style and my expectations for you as my mentee. You should share your expectations of me as well. What does your ideal mentorship relationship look like? Please come to this meeting having thought about this. We will work together to produce a mentorship contract. • I strongly encourage you to talk to my former students about my strengths and weaknesses as a mentor in their experience. A good mentor/mentee relationship is all about “fit”, which is true of all relationships. Before accepting you into the lab, I will do my best to make sure we’re a good match, and I expect you will do the same. • I strongly value autonomy and self-determination in my students, and I work best with self-starters. I expect my students to set their professional goals and relentlessly pursue these throughout their time in the lab. My primary and most important job as a mentor is to help you achieve these goals – which should be set by you, not by me. Frankly, if you have not already carefully considered your career goals and planned out steps for attaining them, I am likely not the best mentor for you. • I value cooperation and collaboration over competition. You will be a member of a vibrant lab community, and I work best with students who want to help each other and collaborate. I view this type of cooperation as critical to the scientific endeavor. I also view it as essential to the continued success of the lab and all the individuals that compose it. • Because people, plans, and goals change, we will review our mentorship plan once per year and adjust accordingly. • Only students with a strong, genuine, and carefully considered desire to pursue a career in academia should apply to work with me, as I am best at advising students for positions in the academy. • As your mentor, I will be reasonably accessible, I will provide you with timely feedback, I will work to keep appropriate boundaries, I will NEVER exploit or harm you, and I will go above and beyond to help you navigate and succeed in the complex world of academia.

Representative Publications

Denis, D., Sanders, K.E.G., Kensinger, E.A., & Payne, J.D. (2022). "Sleep preferentially consolidates negative aspects of human memory: Well-powered evidence from two large online experiments." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119 (44),

Denis, D., Mylonas, D., Poskanzer, C., Bursal, V., & Payne, J.D. (2021). "Sleep spindles facilitate selective memory consolidation." Journal of Neuroscience 5 May 2021, 41 (18) 4088-4099; DOI:

Cunningham, T.J., *Mattingly, S., Wirth, M.M., +Alger, S.E., & Payne, J.D. (2021). "Higher post-encoding cortisol benefits the selective consolidation of emotional aspects of memory." Neurobiology of Learning and Memory,

Kim, S.Y., & Payne, J.D. (2020). "Neural correlates of sleep, stress, and selective memory consolidation." Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 33, 57-64. 

Cunningham, T.J., Leal, S.L., Yassa, M.A., & Payne, J.D. (2018). "Post-encoding stress enhances mnemonic discrimination of negative stimuli." Learning & Memory, 25(12), 611-619. DOI: