Rayna Hirst, Ph.D.

Rayna Hirst
Email Address: 
Phone Number: 

(650) 417-2025 


Director, Neuropsychology Program 
Associate Professor

Faculty Program(s): 

Ph.D. Program

Teaching and/or Research Emphasis and Interest Areas: 

Neuropsychological Assessment, Validity Testing, Learning and Memory, Aging and Health Effects on Cognition, Sport-Related Concussion, Substance Use/Abuse


Postdoctoral Fellowship in Neuropsychology, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine (2012)
Internship in Clinical Psychology, VA Ann Arbor/University of Michigan Healthcare System (2010)
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, University at Albany, SUNY (2010)
M.A. Clinical Psychology, University at Albany, SUNY (2008)
B.A. Psychology, Penn State University (2005)


Dr. Rayna Hirst's BRAIN lab (Behavioral Research and Assessment In Neuropsychology) conducts research in brain-behavior relationships and neuropsychological assessment. Current research topics include the influence of chronic marijuana use on cognition, the neuropsychological effects of sport-related concussion, and factors that influence the valid and reliable neuropsychological assessment of patients. Dr. Hirst’s research has focused on factors that can impact the legitimacy of clinical neuropsychological assessment, such as the examinee’s motivation to perform well; she has identified motivational statements that can enhance cognitive performance in chronic marijuana users. Her research also identified that most people can guess, at levels significantly greater than chance, whether a photograph is of a cannabis user or a non-user, simply based on appearance – a phenomenon she refers to as the “jay-dar”.

As Dr. Hirst is interested in all topics related to neuropsychological performance (e.g., memory impairment, executive dysfunction), as well as the clinical process of neuropsychological assessment (e.g., standards of practice in using effort testing during assessment), she is also open to exploring diverse research ideas with students in her research lab.

Dr. Hirst completed her undergraduate education at Penn State University, and worked in the Neuropsychology Lab with Dr. Peter Arnett and Dr. Frank Hillary on the Penn State Concussion Study. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University at Albany, SUNY, with a focus on Neuropsychology and Addictions with Dr. Mitch Earleywine. Her predoctoral internship in psychology/neuropsychology was completed at the VA Ann Arbor/University of Michigan Healthcare System, under the supervision of Dr. Kenneth Adams, Dr. Linas Bieliauskas, and Dr. Henry Buchtel. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth Medical School in the Brain Imaging Lab, and worked with Dr. Laura Flashman, Dr. Robert Roth, and Dr. Heather Wishart.

In her spare time, Dr. Hirst enjoys global travel (the farther away, the better!), running, hiking, skiing, cooking, music, and adventuring with her husband and dog.

Selected Publications: 

Gould, C. E., Karna, R., Jordan, J., Kawai, M., Hirst, R. B., Hantke, N., Pirog, S., Cotto, I., Beaudreau, S. A., & O’Hara, R. (in press). Subjective, but not objective sleep is associated with subsyndromal anxiety and depression in community-dwelling older adults. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Rosen, A., Sodos, L., Hirst, R. B., Vaughn, D., & Lorkiewicz, S. (in press). Cream of the crop: Clinical representativeness of research eligible and ineligible cannabis users. Substance Use and Misuse. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29509060)

Verroulx, K., Hirst, R. B., Lin, G., & Peery, S. (in press). An embedded effort indicator for children: California Verbal Learning Test – Children’s Edition, Forced Choice. Applied Neuropsychology: Child. DOI: 10.1080/21622965.2018.1426463

Erdodi, L., A., Hurtubise, J., Charron, C., Dunn, A., Enache, A., McDermott, A., & Hirst, R. B. (in press). The D-KEFS Trails as performance validity tests. Psychological Assessment. DOI: 10.1037/pas0000561

Sodos, L. M., Hirst, R. B., Watson, J., Vaughn, D. (2018). Don’t judge a book by its cover: Examiner expectancy effects predict neuropsychological performance for participants judged as chronic cannabis users. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology. DOI:10.1093/arclin/acx114 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29342226)

Hirst, R. B., Beard, C., Colby, K., Quittner, Z., Mills, B., & Lavender, J. (2017). Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa: A meta-analysis of executive functioning. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 83, 678-690. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.08.011 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28851577)

Hirst, R. B., Han, C., Teague, A., Rosen, A., Gretler, J., & Quittner, Z. (2017). Adherence to validity testing recommendations in neuropsychological assessment: A survey of NAN and INS members. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, DOI: 10.1093/arclin/acx009 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28184453)

Hirst, R. B., Enriquez, R., Wickham, R. E., Gretler, J., Sodos, L. M., Gade, S. A., Rathke, L. K. Denson, T. F., & Earleywine, M. (2017). Marijuana stereotypes and the “jay-dar”: Perceptions of cannabis use and memory abilities based upon appearance. Personality and Individual Differences, 110, 131-138. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2016.12.056 (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886916312533)

Hirst, R. B., Gade, S. A., Guatney, L., & Rathke, L. (2017). Motivation in chronic cannabis use. In V. R. Preedy (Ed.), Handbook of Cannabis and Related Pathologies. London: Academic Press.

Hirst, R. B., Young, K., Sodos, L., Wickham, R. E. & Earleywine, M. (2016). Trying to remember: Effort mediates the relationship between frequency of cannabis use and memory performance. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, DOI: 10.1080/13803395.2016.1237617 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/27753292/)

Hirst, R. B., Teague, A., Sodos, L., Wickham, R. E., Whittington, L. T., Mills, B., & Earleywine, M. (2016). Determining cannabis use status from a photograph: An assessment of the “Jay-dar” in neuropsychologists. Substance Use and Misuse, 52(3), 401-410. DOI: 10.1080/10826084.2016.1233564 (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10826084.2016.1233564)

Hirst, R. B., Gretler, J., & Conaboy, C. (2016). HIV and AIDS in later life. In Pachana (Ed.), Encylopedia of Geropsychology. New York: Springer.

Kawai, M., Beaudreau, S. A., Gould, C. E., Hantke, N. C., Cotto, I., Jordan, J. T., Hirst, R. B., & O’Hara, R. O. (2016). A longitudinal examination of the impact of delta activity at sleep onset on cognitive and affective function in community-dwelling older adults. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 31(10), 1124-35. DOI: 10.1002/gps.4554 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27554208)

Haas, A.L., Wickham, R., Macia, K., Shields, M., Macher, R. B. & Schulte, T.(2015). Identifying classes of conjoint alcohol and marijuana use in entering freshmen. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 29(3), 620-626. DOI: 10.1037/adb0000089 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26168228)

Macher, R. B., & Earleywine, M. (2012). Enhancing neuropsychological performance in chronic cannabis users: The role of motivation. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 34(4), 405-415. DOI: 10.1080/13803395.2011.646957 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22273518)

Sutherland, M. E., & Ericson, R. (2010). Alcohol use, abuse, and treatment in people of African descent. Journal of Black Studies, 41(1); 71-88. DOI: 10.1177/0021934708331169 (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0021934708331169)

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