Sara Festini


(813) 257-3677



401 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606

Building Location

PH 346

Meet Sara Festini

Assistant Professor, Psychology


2009 Scripps College, B.A.
2011 University of Michigan, M.S.
2014 University of Michigan, Ph.D.

View CV

Courses Taught: Fundamentals of Biopsychology and Learning
Statistics and Experimental Methods I

Career Specialties: Sara Festini specializes in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

Professional and Community Activities: Festini’s research focuses primarily on human memory, executive control and cognitive aging. Several research projects have investigated people’s ability to prioritize information in working memory by following “directed forgetting” instructions. She is also interested in whether certain lifestyle characteristics, such as day-to-day levels of busyness, are associated with mental function. One recent publication reported favorable associations between busyness and cognitive abilities in middle-aged and older adults, with the strongest relationship observed for episodic memory. Festini has also studied name learning, motor learning, dual-task interference, the influence of emotion on cognition, cerebellar connectivity in Parkinson’s patients, as well as how cognitive processes, brain structure and brain function vary across the adult lifespan.

Selected Publications: Festini, S. B., & Reuter-Lorenz, P. A. (2017). Rehearsal of to-be-remembered items is unnecessary to perform directed forgetting within working memory: Support for an active control mechanism. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43, 94-108. doi: 10.1037/xlm0000308

Park, D. C., & Festini, S. B. (2017). The middle-aged brain: A cognitive neuroscience perspective. In Roberto Cabeza, Lars Nyberg, and Denise C. Park (Eds.), The Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging: Linking Cognitive and Cerebral Aging, 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press.

Park, D. C., & Festini, S. B. (2016). Theories of memory and aging: A look at the past and a glimpse of the future. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbw066

Hartley, A. A., Maquestiaux, F., Festini, S. B., Frazier, K., & Krimmer, P. (2016). Backward compatibility effects in younger and older adults. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 78, 1337-1350. doi: 10.3758/s13414-016-1113-8

Festini, S. B., McDonough, I. M., Park, D. C. (2016). The busier the better: Greater busyness is associated with better cognition. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 8:98. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2016.00098

Reuter-Lorenz, P. A., Festini, S. B., & Jantz, T. (2016). Executive functions and neurocognitive aging. In K. Warner Schaie & Sherry L. Willis (Eds.) Handbook of the Psychology of Aging (8th edition). New York: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-411469-2.00013-3

Festini, S. B., Preston, S. D., Reuter-Lorenz, P. A., & Seidler, R. D. (2016). Emotion and reward are dissociable from error during motor learning. Experimental Brain Research, 234, 1385-1394. doi: 10.1007/s00221-015-4542-z

Festini, S. B., Bernard, J. A., Kwak, Y., Peltier, S., Bohnen, N. I., Muller, M. L. T. M., Dayalu, P., & Seidler, R. D. (2015). Altered cerebellar connectivity in Parkinson’s patients ON and OFF L-DOPA medication. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9:214. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00214

Festini, S. B., & Reuter-Lorenz, P. A. (2015). Dysexecutive amnesia. In James D. Wright (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 6. (pp. 718-724.) Oxford: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.51029-0

Festini, S. B., & Reuter-Lorenz, P. A. (2014). Cognitive control of familiarity: Directed forgetting reduces proactive interference in working memory. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 14, 78-89. doi: 10.3758/s13415-013-0231-1

Festini, S. B., & Reuter-Lorenz, P. A. (2013). The short- and long-term consequences of directed forgetting in a working memory task. Memory, 21, 763-777. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2012.754900

Festini, S. B., Hartley, A. A., Tauber, S. K., & Rhodes, M. G. (2013). Assigned value improves memory of proper names. Memory, 21, 657-667. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2012.747613

Honors and Awards: Aging Mind Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for Vital Longevity, University of Texas at Dallas, 2015-2017
Rackham Dissertation Fellowship, University of Michigan, 2014
Psychology Department Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, University of Michigan, 2013
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Honorable Mention, 2010, 2011
Barbara A. Oleshansky Memorial Fund Award, University of Michigan, 2011
Margaret Siler Faust Best Psychology Senior Thesis Award, Scripps College, 2009
Phi Beta Kappa, Scripps College, 2009
Summa Cum Laude, Scripps College, 2009