Alicia Walf is a neuroscientist and senior lecturer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute whose research interests are fueled by the broad question: Why are there individual differences in stress? This question led to studying hormones' actions for growth and plasticity in the brain and body. She has since refined her pursuit to include consideration of body, brain, and mind relationships as they relate to memory, perception, social cognition and emotions. A current focus is to understand the contextual variables important for these effects of hormones for these behavioral and cognitive processes. Dr. Walf has taken a cross-species and cross-discipline approach. Similarities across species for stress and hormone effects are important to note as they suggest common mechanisms across mammals, likely including humans as well, in the brain and body responses to challenges.
Desensitization amid ongoing trauma is natural and adaptive, and suggested that it helps us to emotionally regulate ourselves in chronically traumatic situations. We are not able to mount the same intense stress and emotional response as we did in the beginning of the pandemic.