Evangelia G. Chrysikou, PhD

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Psychology
Assistant Professor
Director, Ph.D. Program in Cognitive and Brain Sciences Director, B.S. Program in Behavioral Neuroscience
Primary office:
Fraser Hall
Room 457
University of Kansas
1415 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045-7556
Second office:
Fraser Hall


I am an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Kansas and the Director of the Ph.D. Program in Cognitive and Brain Sciences. I also serve as the Director of the B.S. Major in Behavioral Neuroscience. I hold a Ph.D. from the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Program at Temple University, where I also completed a year-long postdoctoral appointment in cognitive neuropsychology. Before joining the Psychology faculty at KU, I was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. I use cognitive neuroscience methods (like fMRI and tDCS) to study how people learn and remember information about everyday objects. I am particularly fascinated by the astonishing flexibility with which the human mind allows for the generation of novel or unusual uses for objects when the situation imposes such demands (e.g., using a tennis racket as a fly swatter, instead of for playing tennis), as well as the implications of such flexibility for theories of semantic knowledge organization and cognitive control. I am further exploring the educational applications of cognitive training paradigms for the development of higher-order thinking in young adults, as well as the translational implications of cognitive flexibility for the characterization of deficient cognitive/executive profiles in depression and other psychiatric disorders marked by prefrontal cortex hypofunction.


Teaching Philosophy

I have taught large undergraduate classes and graduate survey courses, as well as smaller seminars. Being directly involved in neuroscience research allows me to bring into the classroom experiences from the laboratory, as well as share the most up-to-date findings in psychological science from conferences and the work of my peers. In my classes I aim to be passionate and knowledgeable about my subject matter in order to engage students in the course, maintain their interest, and maximize their learning experience. In lecture-based courses, I find particularly important the use of multimedia Keynote presentations so that I provide more than a simple text outline for lecture. I use these materials as an opportunity to engage and relate to students (e.g., using intriguing and humorous examples from pop-culture and captured DVD clips and internet videos to attract students’ attention and maintain their interest throughout the lecture). I further take full advantage of web-based resources (e.g., Blackboard, publisher online portals) to post lecture outlines, assessments, and other study materials related to each class. These notes provide students with an efficient way to organize the course material and provide a helpful study guide for exams and quizzes. I further maintain and encourage the use of class Blogs or WebPages that function as class-related discussion forums and which allow the students to exercise their critical thinking and writing skills in an educational and entertaining manner (Class Blog). I approach my classes as a great opportunity to introduce students to my field of expertise, by combining lectures with involvement in actual psychological research. I make every effort to involve students in actual research in psychology, either in the form of research credit participation in ongoing experiments conducted by graduate students and faculty within the department or by encouraging them to volunteer in my lab or the labs of others for independent study. Students particularly welcome these efforts, which increase their class attendance and help them better integrate course material. In the courses that I have taught so far, students have consistently provided particularly positive feedback regarding these practices and the excitement they engender. I further make every effort as an instructor to make myself available via email as promptly as possible and I encourage individual appointments or group meetings during office hours whenever students need additional assistance with coursework.

Mentoring Philosophy

I approach collaborations with graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) as an excellent educational opportunity; with good planning and class organization on my part, the teaching assistants can focus on practicing their teaching skills and flexibility in communicating class materials to different student groups. For this reason I provide to each of my Teaching Assistants a handbook describing their responsibilities throughout the semester. This document further serves as a contract between us during the course, in addition to helping them, through clear deadlines, to manage their teaching responsibilities with their graduate student schedules. To me the most critical aspect of academic teaching is the training of the future generation of researchers in psychology. Being a mentor to undergraduate and, critically, graduate students involves a high level of commitment, responsibility, and hard work for the successful development of each advisee into an independent scientist. I regard as the key to a meaningful and productive mentor-student relationship a balance between (a) providing guidance and structure in the form of clear short- and long-term goals and (b) fostering independence and creativity in approaching interesting research questions. Above all, I regard the mentor’s position as one of great power to shape the student’s career, but one which can only materialize through consistent and prompt support, feedback, and advice. A well-established mentor-student relationship is a productive relationship and one that promotes the reputation and builds the strength of one’s lab.

Teaching Interests

  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Brain and behavior
  • Methods in psychophysiology and neuroscience
  • Neuroimaging


How do people use their knowledge about the world to achieve goals and solve problems? Research in my lab focuses on the intersection of three areas within cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, namely language, memory, and action/perception. We are investigating the flexibility in cognitive control of semantic knowledge retrieval for goal-oriented behavior, with an emphasis on human problem solving and everyday tool use. The goals of the lab’s research program are threefold:

(1) to identify how we dynamically activate semantic knowledge for artifacts and their properties in everyday action and to characterize our unique ability to re-conceptualize a tool by extending its typical function or by creating a new artifact with which to achieve a goal or solve a problem;

(2) to reveal how the brain allows for flexibility during goal-directed object use; and

(3) to explore how this knowledge of the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying goal-oriented behavior can have real world clinical and educational implications.

To address these questions, we are collecting a combination of behavioral, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) data from healthy adults and neuropsychiatric populations.

Research Interests

  • Semantic Memory
  • Goal Achievement and Tool Use
  • Prefrontal Cortical Functioning and Flexibility in Cognitive Control
  • Innovation in Human Cognition
  • Semantic Memory and Language in Normal and Neuropsychological Populations
  • Situated and Embodied Cognition, Perception, and Action


I am currently the Director of the Ph.D. Program in Cognitive and Brain Sciences. I also serve as the Director of the B.S. Major in Behavioral Neuroscience.

Selected Publications

Chrysikou, E. G. (in press). The Costs and Benefits of Cognitive Control for Creativity. In . (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Neuroscience of Creativity.

Chrysikou, E. G., Gorey, C. & Aupperle, R. L. (in press). Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation over right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex alters decision making during approach-avoidance conflict. Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, 10.1093/scan/nsw140 .

Chrysikou, E. G., & Thompson, W. J. (2016). Assessing cognitive and affective empathy through the interpersonal reactivity index: An argument against a two-factor model. Assessment, 23(6), 769-777.

Chrysikou, E. G., Motyka, K. Nigro, C. Yang, S. & Thompson-Schill, S. L. (2016). Functional fixedness in creative thinking tasks depends on stimulus modality. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 10(4), 425-435. DOI:10.1037/aca0000050

Lepping, R. J., Atchley, R. Chrysikou, E. G., Martin, L. E., Ingram, R. E., Simmons, K. & Savage, C. (2016). Neural processing of emotional musical and non-musical stimuli in depression. PlosONE , 10.1371/journal.pone.0156859.

Chrysikou, E. G., Weber, M. & Thompson-Schill, S. L. (2014). A matched filter hypothesis for cognitive control. Neuropsychologia, 62, 341-355.

Yee, E. Chrysikou, E. G., Hoffman, E. & Thompson-Schill, S. L. (2013). Manual experience shapes object representations. Psychological Science, 24, 909-919.

Chrysikou, E. G., Hamilton, R. H., Coslett, H. B., Datta, A. Bikson, M. & Thompson-Schill, S. L. (2013). Non-­invasive transcranial direct current stimulation over the left prefrontal cortex facilitates cognitive flexibility in tool use. Cognitive Neuroscience, 4, 81-89.

Ramey, C. H., Chrysikou, E. G., & Reilly, J. (2013). Snapshots of children’s changing
biases during language development: Differential weighting of perceptual and linguistic factors predicts noun age-­of-­acquisition. Journal of Cognition & Development, 14, 573-592..

Chrysikou, E. G., & Thompson-Schill, S. L. (2011). Dissociable brains states linked to common and creative object use. Human Brain Mapping, 32, 665-675.

Casasanto, D. & Chrysikou, E. G. (2011). Motor fluency shapes abstract concepts. Psychological Science, 22, 419-422.

Thompson-Schill, S. L., Ramscar, M. & Chrysikou, E. G. (2009). Cognition without control: When a little frontal lobe goes a long way. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 259-263.

Chrysikou, E. G. (2006). When shoes become hammers: Goal-­derived categorization training enhances problem solving performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32, 935-942.

Chrysikou, E. G., & Weisberg, R. W. (2005). Following the wrong footsteps: Fixation effects of pictorial examples in a design problem-­solving task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 31, 1134-1148.

Selected Grants

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
KU Today