You are now in the main content area

Dr. Alexandra Fiocco

Associate Professor
EducationPhD, McGill University
Phone416-979-5000 ext. 553008
Areas of Expertiseaging; stress; cognitive aging; biopsychosocial determinants; mindfulness meditation


Training Background: Dr. Fiocco’s approach to research is multidisciplinary, incorporating different branches of learning, including psychology, neuroscience, and epidemiology. She obtained a MSc in Psychology with a specialization in Neuroscience from Carleton University in 2002, followed by a PhD in Neuroscience from McGill University in 2008. Following her doctoral training, she pursued postdoctoral training at the University of California San Francisco in clinical and epidemiological research and completed a second postdoctoral fellowship at Baycrest in Toronto.

Program of Research: Dr. Fiocco’s research interests center around cognitive function, brain health, and emotional wellbeing in late life. Her work examines the biological, psychological, and social factors that determine cognitive function and wellbeing in later adulthood. Dr. Fiocco also examines preventive measures that facilitate healthy aging.

Some specific research questions that are explored in Dr. Fiocco’s lab include:

•             What factors are associated with high and low cognitive function in older adults?

•             What is the association between biopsychosocial factors, brain activity, and cognitive function?

•             How may stress reactivity and allostatic load be modified?

•             Do prevention strategies, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction, and other lifestyle behavioural changes associate with better cognitive function and other correlates of healthy aging?

•             How can we enhance cognitive function and wellbeing among persons living in residential care?

Research Interests: Stress and aging; lifestyle behaviours and their impact on wellbeing; biopsychosocial determinants of health; mindfulness and contemplative practices; group-based interventions.


Dr. Fiocco supervises both clinical and psychological science graduate students and undergraduate students in the honours thesis stream in the Department of Psychology at Ryerson University.

Select Publications (Please see lab website for full publication list)

(* denotes student under my supervision)

Fiocco, A.J., D’Amico, D.*, J., De Beaumont, Poirier, J., Lupien, S.J. (2019). Association between BDNF polymorphism and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal activity in later adulthood. Gerontology. In press.

Fiocco, A.J., Krieger, L.*, D’Amico, D.D.*, Parrott, M., Laurin, D., Gaudreau, P., Greenwood, C.E., Ferland, G. (2019). A systematic review of existing peripheral biomarkers of cognitive aging: Is there enough evidence for biomarker proxies in behavioral modification interventions?  An initiative in association with the Nutrition, Exercise and Lifestyle Team of the Canadian Consortium of Neurodegeneration in Aging. Aging Research Reviews. In press.

Mallya, S.* & Fiocco, A.J. (2019) The effects of mindfulness training on cognitive and psychological wellbeing among older family caregivers of persons with neurodegenerative disease. Mindfulness.

Fiocco, A.J., Meisner, B.A. (2018) Mindful aging: The association between trait mindfulness and expectations regarding aging among middle aged and older adults. Aging and Mental Health. 1-5. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2018.1544216.

Fiocco, A.J., Mallya, S.*, Farzaneh, M.* & Koszycki, D. (2018). Exploring the benefits of mindfulness training in healthy independent community-dwelling older adults using a mixed methods approach. Mindfulness.

Jiang, J., Fiocco, A.J., Cao, X., Jiang, L., Feng, W., Shen, Y., Li, T.,  Li, C. (2018) The moderating role of COMT and BDNF polymorphisms on transfer effects following multi- and single-domain cognitive training among community-dwelling Shanghainese older adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2018.00198

Mallya, S.* & Fiocco, A.J. (2018). The impact of informal caregiving on cognitive function and wellbeing in Canada. International Psychogeriatrics, 30(7), 1049-1055. doi: 10.1017/S1041610217002605

Ngueta, G., Verner, M-A, Fiocco, A.J., Lupien, S., Plusquellec, P. (2018). Blood lead levels and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) function in middle-aged individuals. Environmental Research,106, 554-561. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.10.032.

Huang, V.*, Young, M.* & Fiocco, A.J.  (2017). The association between video game play and cognitive function: Does gaming platform matter? Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. 20(11): 689-694. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2017.0241.

Fiocco, A.J.  & Hunse, A.* & (2017). The buffer effect of therapy dog exposure on stress reactivity in undergraduate students. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14 (7), 707 doi:10.3390/ijerph14070707.

Huang, V.*, Peck, K.*, Mallya, S.*, Lupien, S. & Fiocco, A.J.  (2016.) Subjective sleep quality as a possible mediator in the relationship between personality traits and depressive symptoms in middle-aged adults. PLOS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157238.

Peck, K.*, Gerrard, T., Russo, F. & Fiocco, A.J.  (2016). Music and memory in Alzheimer’s Disease: Potential underlying mechanisms. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 51(4):949- 59. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150998

Mallya, S.* & Fiocco, A.J.  (2016). Effects of mindfulness training on cognition and wellbeing in healthy older adults. Mindfulness, 7(2), 453-465.

Nastaskin, R.* & Fiocco, A.J.  (2015). A survey of diet self-efficacy and food intake in students with high and low perceived stress. Nutrition Journal. 14:42 doi:10.1186/s12937-015-0026-z.

Fiocco, A.J.  & Mallya, S.* (2015). The importance of cultivating mindfulness for cognitive function and psychological wellbeing in late life. Journal of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 20, 35-40. doi: 10.1177/2156587214553940

De Beaumont, L., Fiocco, A. J., Quesnel, G., Lupien, S., & Poirier, J. (2013). Altered declarative memory in introverted middle-aged adults carrying the BDNF val66met allele. Behavioral Brain Research, 253, 152-156.