Karin Schon, PhD

Associate Professor, Anatomy & Neurobiology

Karin Schon
72 E. Concord St Housman (R)


Karin Schon, Ph.D., received a joint B.A./M.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Hamburg in Germany in 1998, and her Ph.D. from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Boston University in 2005. Her dissertation focused on functional neuroimaging studies of working memory and long-term (episodic) memory formation under the mentorship of Prof. Chantal Stern. She then continued her work with Prof. Stern as a Postdoc. In 2010 she received a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award from the National Institute on Aging to investigate the effects or cardio-respiratory fitness and exercise on the function and structure of the medial temporal hippocampal memory system. In May 2013 she joined the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology at the Chobanian and Avedisian School of Medicine as an Assistant Professor where she is the Director of the Brain Plasticity and Neuroimaging Laboratory.

Dr. Schon’s brain plasticity research focuses on modulators of the medial temporal hippocampal system across the lifespan. Currently, she investigates the role of aerobic fitness/exercise, aging, and chronic psychosocial stress, as modulators of cognitive function and brain health in aging and Alzheimer’s disease and in emerging adults. With her cognitive neuroscience research on chronic psychosocial stress she aims to take an anti-racist perspective by focusing on the impact of interpersonal, institutional/structural and cultural racism on brain health in older Black/African Americans and Black/African American emerging adults. The long-term goal of this research is to understand social and environmental determinants of brain and mental health across the lifespan and to contribute to health policy change from a cognitive neuroscience perspective with the goal to eliminate brain health inequities.

Methods used include: Task-based, resting-state and high-resolution fMRI, structural MRI, cognitive testing, neuropsychology, exercise testing and training, and biomarker assays (e.g. neurotrophins, such as BDNF, IGF-1, and VEGF; salivary cortisol, allostatic load).

Other Positions

  • Assistant Professor, Neuroscience, Boston University College of Arts and Sciences
  • Assistant Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University College of Arts and Sciences
  • Member, Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research, Boston University
  • Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students), Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences


  • Boston University, PhD
  • Universität Hamburg, MA
  • Universität Hamburg, BA

Classes Taught

  • GMSAN702
  • GMSAN811


  • Published on 1/16/2024

    Rosario MA, Alotaibi R, Espinal-Martinez AO, Ayoub A, Baumann A, Clark U, Cozier Y, Schon K. Personal Mastery Attenuates the Association between Greater Perceived Discrimination and Lower Amygdala and Anterior Hippocampal Volume in a Diverse Sample of Older Adults. bioRxiv. 2024 Jan 16. PMID: 38293042.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 12/6/2023

    Rosario MA, Kern KL, Mumtaz S, Storer TW, Schon K. Cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with cortical thickness of medial temporal brain areas associated with spatial cognition in young but not older adults. Eur J Neurosci. 2024 Jan; 59(1):82-100. PMID: 38056827.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 11/23/2022

    Kern KL, McMains SA, Storer TW, Moffat SD, Schon K. Cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with fMRI signal in right cerebellum lobule VIIa Crus I and II during spatial navigation in older adult women. Front Aging Neurosci. 2022; 14:979741. PMID: 36506472.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 12/16/2020

    Kern KL, Storer TW, Schon K. Cardiorespiratory fitness, hippocampal subfield volumes, and mnemonic discrimination task performance in aging. Hum Brain Mapp. 2021 03; 42(4):871-892. PMID: 33325614.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/1/2020

    Islam MR, Luo R, Valaris S, Haley EB, Takase H, Chen YI, Dickerson BC, Schon K, Arai K, Nguyen CT, Wrann CD. Diffusion tensor-MRI detects exercise-induced neuroplasticity in the hippocampal microstructure in mice. Brain Plast. 2020 Oct 01; 5(2):147-159. PMID: 33282678.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/21/2020

    Coogan P, Schon K, Li S, Cozier Y, Bethea T, Rosenberg L. Experiences of racism and subjective cognitive function in African American women. Alzheimers Dement (Amst). 2020; 12(1):e12067. PMID: 32782921.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 2/18/2020

    Nauer RK, Schon K, Stern CE. Cardiorespiratory fitness and mnemonic discrimination across the adult lifespan. Learn Mem. 2020 03; 27(3):91-103. PMID: 32071255.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/24/2019

    Kronman CA, Kern KL, Nauer RK, Dunne MF, Storer TW, Schon K. Cardiorespiratory fitness predicts effective connectivity between the hippocampus and default mode network nodes in young adults. Hippocampus. 2020 05; 30(5):526-541. PMID: 31647603.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/7/2019

    Nauer RK, Dunne MF, Stern CE, Storer TW, Schon K. Improving fitness increases dentate gyrus/CA3 volume in the hippocampal head and enhances memory in young adults. Hippocampus. 2020 05; 30(5):488-504. PMID: 31588607.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 11/26/2015

    Whiteman AS, Young DE, Budson AE, Stern CE, Schon K. Entorhinal volume, aerobic fitness, and recognition memory in healthy young adults: A voxel-based morphometry study. Neuroimage. 2016 Feb 01; 126:229-38. PMID: 26631814.

    Read at: PubMed

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