Rebecca Todd

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not looking for graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows. Please do not contact the faculty member with any such requests.

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Motivation, Emotions and Rewards
Learning and Memory

Research Interests

Human Cognition and Emotion
Motivationally and affectively biased attention and memory
Emotional learning (associative learning of reward and punishment)
Human Neurocognitive processes underlying all of the above

Relevant Degree Programs


Research Methodology

My lab uses computer-based behavioural measures, as well as psychophysiological, eye tracking, EEG, and functional brain imaging measures.

Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


Every day in @BecketTodd’s lab feels like coming home. I am 101% sure I speak for all of her students. Always grateful for my #GreatSupervisor. You deserve all the [ice cream] and [bears] in the world. #UBC


Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Associations of bipolar traits with reward and threat sensitivity and conditioning (2018)

Bipolar Spectrum Disorders (BSDs) affect 1% of the population and cause significant interpersonal, occupational, and health challenges. Identifying cognitive, affective, and behavioural factors that influence BSD symptoms and related behaviours, consistent with a dimensional approach to psychopathology, may help improve our understanding and treatment of these disorders. Reward and threat sensitivity and learning, for example, are cognitive processes that may be dimensionally related to BSD risk, onset, and course. However, studies exploring reward and threat sensitivity and learning as a function of continuously measured bipolar traits, as opposed to categorical diagnoses or acute symptoms, have mostly employed self-report measures of sensitivity and overlooked classical conditioning. Thus, in this investigation, I explored how bipolar traits in two university student samples related to reward and threat sensitivity and conditioning measured using laboratory tasks. In Study 1, I found that higher self-reported lifetime hypomanic and depressive symptoms significantly predicted sensitivity to incentive reward and a stronger classically conditioned response to a threat-related cue, respectively. In Study 2, I addressed these questions in a larger sample of participants based on three higher-order bipolar traits as predictors of sensitivity and conditioning, variables extracted from measures of lower-order BSD-related traits using principal components analysis. Participants with higher scores for Factor 1, characterized by impulsiveness, low self-control, and low achievement, demonstrated significantly weaker classically conditioned responses to reward- and threat-related cues. Higher Factor 2 scores, indicating greater vulnerability to emotion dysregulation and negative affective responses to stress, significantly predicted greater sensitivity to threat. Finally, higher scores for Factor 3, reflecting a tendency to pursue and engage in stimulating experiences despite potential risks, significantly predicted greater sensitivity to incentive reward and lower susceptibility to forming classically conditioned responses to threat-related cues. These results indicate that bipolar traits may be meaningfully associated with patterns of reward and threat sensitivity and conditioning, associations which may have important implications for predicting and altering maladaptive levels of bipolar traits.

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The influence of appetitive and aversive stimuli on subjective temporal acuity (2017)

Anecdotal reports that time “flies by” or “slows down” during emotional events are supported by evidence that the motivational relevance of stimuli influences subsequent duration judgments. Yet it is unknown whether the subjective quality of events as they unfold is altered by motivational relevance. In a novel paradigm, we measured the subjective experience of moment-to-moment visual perception. Participants judged the temporal smoothness of high-approach positive (desserts), negative (e.g. bodily mutilation), and neutral images (commonplace scenes) as they faded to black. Results revealed approach-motivated blurring (AMB), such that positive stimuli were judged as smoother and negative stimuli as choppier relative to neutral stimuli. Participant ratings of approach-motivation predicted perceived fade smoothness after controlling for low-level stimulus features. Electrophysiological data indicated AMB modulated relatively rapid perceptual activation. Results indicate that stimulus value influences subjective temporal perceptual acuity, with approach-motivating stimuli eliciting perception of a “blurred” frame rate characteristic of speeded motion.

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News Releases

This list shows a selection of news releases by UBC Media Relations over the last 5 years.

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