William D. "Scott" Killgore, PhD

Professor, Medical Imaging
Professor, Psychiatry
Professor, Psychology

William D. "Scott" Killgore, PhD

Academic / Professional Bio: 

Dr. Killgore is a Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Medical Imaging and is the Director of the Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN) Lab in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.  He is a clinical neuropsychologist and research neuroscientist whose research focuses on understanding the brain systems involved in emotional processes and cognitive performance.  For the past decade, his work has focused nearly exclusively on the factors affecting the mental health, wellbeing, and performance of military personnel.  His work combines neurocognitive assessment with state-of-the-art neuroimaging methods to study the role of emotion in complex cognitive processes such as moral judgment, decision-making, and risk-taking.  His work also focuses on how these brain-behavior systems may be affected by environmental and lifestyle factors such as insufficient sleep, nutrition, light exposure, physical activity, and the use of stimulants such as caffeine.  In particular, Dr. Killgore has explored the role of sleep as a mediator of psychological and emotional health and the potential role of insufficient sleep as a contributor to psychiatric disturbance, emotional dysregulation, risk-related behavior, and performance.  He is currently conducting several Department of Defense funded studies aimed at improving sleep and resilience in military personnel.  In particular, current studies focus on assessment and treatment of mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), developing statistical models of the stress response, enhancing resilience and emotional intelligence, and improving sleep and cognitive performance through various interventions such as targeted light exposure, caffeine, and neuromodulation with transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Prior to moving to the University of Arizona in 2014, Dr. Killgore spent 17 years on the faculty at Harvard Medical School from 2000 to 2017, where he was Director of the Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA. 

Dr. Killgore also serves a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, with 19 years of military service, including 5 years on active duty as an Army Research Psychologist.  While stationed at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, DC, Dr. Killgore served as Chief of the Neurocognitive Performance Branch in the Department of Behavioral Biology.

During the course of his career, Dr. Killgore has published over 200 scientific articles and book chapters, and has co-authored over 600 published abstracts and conference proceedings with his students, advisees, and fellows.  He was awarded the 2005 COL Edward L. Buescher Award for Excellence in Research by a Young Scientist, the 2010 Army Science Conference Best Paper in Neuroscience, and received a 2012 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award in Neuroscience. 

Dr. Killgore received his Bachelor degree in Psychology summa cum laude with distinction from the University of New Mexico, followed by a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Texas Tech University, with an internship in Clinical Psychology at Yale University School of Medicine.  Dr. Killgore then completed postdoctoral fellowships in clinical neuropsychology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, and a fellowship in cognitive neuroimaging at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School.

Research Interests: 

Dr. Killgore's research has emphasized the study of higher order cognition and executive functions and how these cognitive abilities are influenced and guided by subtle affective processes. Recent sleep-related research has focused on the effects of prolonged sleep deprivation, chronic sleep restriction, and the use of stimulant countermeasures on the cognitive-affective systems within the brain. This line of investigation suggests that sleep deprivation alters the metabolic activity within several important affect-regulating regions of the brain, including the medial prefrontal cortex, resulting in subtle but profound effects on specific aspects of affect and cognition. These changes appear to impair the ability to use affective processes to guide judgment and decision-making, particularly in high-risk or emotionally charged morally relevant situations. His recent investigations also suggest that while commonly used stimulants such as caffeine, modafinil, and dextroamphetamine are highly effective at reversing sleep-loss induced deficits in alertness and vigilance, their restorative effects on the cognitive-affective decision-making systems of the brain may be much more limited.

Degrees: 
PhD: Texas Tech University,1996
MA: Texas Tech University, 1992
BA: University of New Mexico,1990
Honors and Awards: 
Young Faculty Award in Neuroscience, Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA), 2012
2011 Top Poster Award in Clinical and Translational Research, Society of Biological Psychiatry, 2011
Fellowship: 
Harvard Medical School-McLean Hospital, Neuroimaging, 1999-2000
University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Clinical Neuropsychology, 1997-1999
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Clinical Neuropsychology, 1996-1997
Yale School of Medicine, Clinical Psychology, 1995-1996