Psychology and Child Development

College of Liberal Arts

Kelly Bennion

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Associate Professor

Contact Information


  • Ph.D., M.A., Psychology (concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience), Boston College
  • Ed.M., Mind, Brain, and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • B.A., Psychology with Highest Honors and Spanish, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa,  Middlebury College

Courses Taught

  • PSY 102 Orientation to the Psychology Major
  • PSY 329 Research Methods in Psychology
  • PSY 340 Biopsychology
  • PSY 440 Memory

Research Interests

It is no secret that some events are better remembered than others, with many factors impacting the likelihood of information entering long-term memory. These factors may relate to the initial experiencing or encoding of the event, or the process of consolidation, during which memories continue to be transformed and strengthened. In a world in which we cannot possibly remember everything, my research aims to elucidate the factors that may promote successful memory using a combination of behavioral, eye tracking, polysomnography, and neuroimaging approaches. I am particularly interested in the effects of several real-life variables (e.g., emotion, physiological arousal, stress, motivation) on memory, as well as understanding how sleep affects memory. Given research showing that sleep selectively enhances memory for certain experiences over others, I seek to better understand how such information is initially selected for this preferential processing, and how we may best prioritize information during encoding to lead to optimal consolidation during sleep.

Selected Publications


  • Bennion, K. A., Tate, D., Muñoz-Christian, K., & Phelan, S. (2020). Impact of an internet-based lifestyle intervention on behavioral and psychosocial factors during postpartum weight loss. Obesity. 
  • Hagobian, T. A., Brunner-Gaydos, H., Seal, A., Schaffner, A., Kitts, C., Hubbard, R., Malin, S., La Frano, M., Bennion, K. A., & Phelan, S. (2020). Rationale and design of a randomized trial examining oral administration of bisphenol A on hepatic glucose production and muscle insulin sensitivity in adults. Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, 17, 100549. 
  • +Jackson, J. R., & Bennion, K. A. (2019). Perceptions of school shooters depend on prior criminal record but not targeted age group. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
  • Bennion, K. A., Payne, J. D., & Kensinger, E. A. (2017). Residual effects of emotion are reflected in enhanced visual activity after sleep. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 17(2), 290-304.
  • Bennion, K. A., Payne, J. D., & Kensinger, E. A. (2016). The impact of napping on memory for future-relevant stimuli: Prioritization among multiple salience cues. Behavioral Neuroscience, 130(3), 281-289.
  • *Lo, J. C., *Bennion, K. A., & Chee, M. W. (2016). Sleep restriction can attenuate prioritization benefits on declarative memory consolidation. Journal of Sleep Research, doi:10.1111/jsr.12424.
  • Bennion, K. A., Mickley Steinmetz, K. R., Kensinger, E. A., & Payne, J. D. (2015). Sleep and cortisol interact to support memory consolidation. Cerebral Cortex, 25(3), 646-657.
  • Bennion, K. A., Payne, J. D., & Kensinger, E. A. (2015). Selective effects of sleep on emotional memory: What mechanisms are responsible? Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 1(1), 79-88.
  • Bennion, K. A., Ford, J. H., Murray, B. D., & Kensinger, E. A. (2013). Oversimplification in the study of emotional memory. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 19(9), 953-961.


*denotes shared first-authorship

+Cal Poly student author

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