About Me

I am currently a post-doctoral research fellow in the Psychology department at UW-Madison working with Paula Niedenthal. I received my Ph.D. from the Psychological and Brain Sciences department at Dartmouth College, where I worked with Thalia Wheatley.

Before beginning my graduate studies at Dartmouth, I received BAs in Music and Cognitive Science at the University of Virginia, where I worked with Michael Kubovy and Laura Getz. After I graduated, I was a post-baccalaureate research assistant at the National Institutes of Health working with Alex Martin.

About My Research

My research aims to understand how nonverbal behaviors such as eye contact and facial expression can connect us to one another when interacting. Previously, I used eye-tracking to measure pupillary synchrony between two interacting people in order to investigate how we dynamically share and break attention with one another around moments of eye contact in conversation. My post-doctoral work aims to understand how similar dynamics might accompany naturally-occurring facial expressions. Specifically, I want to understand the typical facial expressions a person can expect to see in their daily social interactions, and I want to understand how the interplay of facial expressions between two interacting individuals can inform how perceptive they are when reading their partner’s emotional state.


In prep

Wohltjen, S., Zhong, Y., Colon, I., Zhao, O., Ward, E., Li, Y., Mutlu, B., & Niedenthal, P. (in prep). Discovering facial behaviors in the wild.

Wohltjen, S., Goldman, M., & Wheatley, T. (in prep). Hanging on to almost every word: Pupillary asynchrony between storytellers and listeners predicts enhanced memory for surprising, exciting story moments.

Wohltjen, S. & Wheatley, T. (in prep) Rapt with attention: Spontaneous eye blink rate decreases as conversation partners become more engaged.

Under review

Turkstra, L., Hosseini-Moghaddam, S., Wohltjen, S., Nurre, S.V., Mutlu, B., & Duff, M. (under review). Adults with vs without TBI differ in how they “read” emotion in context. Frontiers in Psychology.


Wohltjen, S., Toth, B., Boncz, A., & Wheatley, T. (2023). Synchrony to a beat predicts synchrony with other minds. Nature Scientific Reports, 13(3591). [link] [data and code] Coverage: Psychology Today

Wohltjen, S. & Wheatley, T. (2021). Eye contact marks the rise and fall of shared attention in conversation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(37), 1-8. [link] [data and code] Coverage: Scientific American, Forbes

Avery, J.A., Ingeholm, J.E., Wohltjen, S., Collins, M., Riddell, C., Gotts, S.J., Kenworthy, L., Wallace, G., Simmons, K., & Martin, A. (2018). Neural correlates of taste reactivity in autism spectrum disorders. Neuroimage Clinical, 19, 38-46. [link]

Mellem, M., Wohltjen, S., Gotts, S., Ghuman, A., & Martin, A. (2017). Intrinsic frequency biases and profiles across human cortex. Journal of Neurophysiology. [link]

Getz, L., Wohltjen, S., & Kubovy, M. (2016). Competition between rhythmic and language organization: The importance of task demands. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, (69). [link]