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Dr Raluca Petrican

Dr Raluca Petrican


3.17, Tower Building, 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT


I am particularly interested in the relationship between individual differences in episodic memory (i.e., memory for previously experienced events) and cognitive control processes. Specifically, I seek to understand how this relationship is reflected in the brain, as well as how it changes across the lifespan and in mood disordered populations.

My work has two broad objectives. One is to characterize patterns of change and stability in the brain mechanisms underlying cognitive control and episodic memory across typical lifespan development. Such information can then be used to test whether age-specific versus age-invariant mechanisms relevant to episodic memory and cognitive control make distinguishable contributions to the emergence and maintenance of mood-related problems.

A second objective is to characterize the role of genetic and environmental factors in shaping the relationship between cognitive control and episodic memory processes. I am particularly interested in understanding typical patterns of co-adaptation in the brain architecture supporting episodic memory in members of long-term biologically related and unrelated dyads. One goal is to characterize the role of these adaptation mechanisms in optimal interpersonal functioning among healthy individuals. A second goal is to probe the specificity of such co-adaptation mechanisms by comparing the neural profiles of dyads in which one member had been diagnosed with a neuropsychiatric, neurodevelopmental or neurodegenerative disorder that interferes with affective expression and/or experience.


Undergraduate Education

Hon. BSc Psychology & Drama, University of Toronto (2004)

Postgraduate Education

PhD Psychology, University of Toronto (2010) Thesis “Gaze control as a marker of self-other differentiation: Implications for sociocognitive functioning and close relationship quality” (Prof. M. Moscovitch)


Postdoctoral fellow (2011-2019) Rotman Research Institute (University of Toronto: Profs. C. Grady, B. Levine)

















Year 2

Abnormal and Clinical Psychology/Perception, Attention and Action (academic tutorials);  Thinking, Emotion and Consciousness (practicals)

Placement Year               

Occupational Placement (Coordinator Team member; university supervisor of placement students)

Final Year                       

Final Year Research Project (supervisor)

MSc in Neuroimaging           

Research Project (supervisor); Research Design and Analysis in Neuroimaging (fMRI computing)

I also act as a Personal Tutor for students across all the BSc years.

Current research

Early life adversity and lifespan neurocognitive development

Early life adversity (e.g., poverty, high family conflict, maltreatment by a caregiver) has been consistently linked to affective and cognitive problems in youth. Nonetheless, some can overcome, at least partially, the handicap of life hostilities. Importantly, even for these youths, current evidence suggests that the effect of previous adversities on cognition and affect is not silenced, but merely delayed and likely to manifest during older adulthood in the form of accelerated cognitive aging and increased susceptibility to dementia.

Ongoing projects follow two lines of inquiry. One seeks to understand how genetic risk and early life adversity interact to predict affective vulnerability and atypical neurodevelopment in adolescence, as well as dementia risk in older adulthood. A second aims to characterise the reversibility of neurocognitive outcomes following early life adversity as a function of genetic resilience and later exposure to positive social environments.


Past students

Natalie Jones, MSc

Chloe Apsey, MSc