Associate Professor of Psychology
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Natalie Ebner’s work takes an interdisciplinary approach to understand the social and emotional mechanisms of successful aging.
“Current aging research focuses on physical and cognitive functions and certain mental illnesses common in the elderly,” Ebner said. “Largely, we still ignore the negative age-related change in social-cognitive and affective capacities that can result in a risk of social isolation, adversely affecting health and independence.”
Consequently, Ebner’s lab incorporates pharmacological and neurofeedback training to apply interventions toward promotion of social and emotional aging.
She conducts experimental research using a multi-methods approach that combines convergent measures, including self-report, behavior observation, eye tracking, biomarkers and different neuroimaging techniques, for an integration of introspective, behavioral and neurobiological data.
“From the start, I have been particularly intrigued by questions related to how changes with age affect our social lives and our feelings and emotions toward ourselves and others,” Ebner said.
She quickly realized that although a significant amount of loss and decline were associated with cognitive and physical aging, individuals could still experience a variety of gains and experience growth in the social and affective function domains.
“This fact makes this field of research particularly rewarding to me,” Ebner said.
At this time across internal, foundation and federal grants, Ebner is the principal investigator or investigator on nine grants. She is also continuing a long-term collaboration with colleagues in Sweden as a co-investigator on funded projects, along with smaller collaborative projects.
Ebner has also served as the guest and consulting editor for several top journals. Notable, she currently is the editor for a special edition of Psychology and Aging, the top journal in the field, and she is presently an associate editor for Cognition and Emotion, another top journal in psychology. Her expertise in experimental aging research is further documented by awards, such as the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course Outstanding Alumni Award, the UF Assistant Professor Excellence Award and the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences International Educator of the Year Award. Ebner has also been a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences since 2015.