Dr. Kathleen Casto

Assistant Professor of Psychology


Phone Number

Email Address



BON 010


Social Science 102


Office or Division

Area of Concentration



Ph.D., Psychology, Emory University, Neuroscience & Animal Behavior Area
M.A., Psychological Science, James Madison University
B.A., Psychology and Chemistry, University of North Carolina Wilmington

My research is centered on understanding the neural and hormonal processes underpinning human social behavior, motivation, and health. Current projects include:

  1. Exploring how steroid hormones like testosterone and cortisol change rapidly in the context of social competition and how those changes relate to performance and social group processes
  2. Testing how hormonal contraceptive use affects these hormone-behavior relationships and affects social, emotional, and performance outcomes.
    Understanding how fluctuations in hormones like progesterone and estradiol across the menstrual cycle alter motivation, behavior, mood/emotion, and cognitions.
  3. Exploring how individual differences in menstrual-related social/emotional/relational symptoms moderate menstrual cycle-behavior effects.
  4. Students who work in my lab work collaboratively on various studies listed above and gain experience in study design, collecting human subjects data, data management and analysis, and scientific communication and advocacy.

Although my research is primarily focused on human social-behavioral endocrinology, I have two other related arms of my lab:

  • Functional-near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) – I founded and run a teaching lab in neuroimaging using fNIRS to measure cortical activity during a variety of behavioral and cognitive tasks. Although the neuroimaging side of my lab has not yet blended with my neuroendocrinology side, I have begun piloting protocol for testing prefrontal activity during executive functioning tasks across the menstrual cycle and in relation to endocrine levels.

Recent Courses

Behavioral Endocrinology
Neuroscience of Sport and Exercise
Drugs & Behavior
fNIRs Neuroimaging Lab
Introduction to Psychology
The Art of Presenting Psychological Science

Recent News

How is the Contraceptive Pill Affecting Your Mood?

Inside Professor Kathleen Casto’s lab

Selected Publications

Recent publications with original data

Casto, K.V., Arthur, L.C., Hamilton, D., & Edwards, D.A. (2021) Testosterone, athletic context, oral contraceptive use, and competitive performance in women. In Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, Special Issue on “Sports Science: Evolutionary Perspectives and Biological Mechanisms”. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-021-00180-6

Casto, K.V., Root, Z. L., Carré, J.M. , Geniole, S., & Bruner, M.W. (2021). Exploratory analysis of the relationship between social identification and testosterone reactivity to vicarious combat. Human Nature, 32, 509-527. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-021-09407-7

Casto, K.V., Edwards, D.A., Akinola, M., Davis, C., & Mehta, P.H. (2020). Testosterone reactivity to competition and competitive endurance in men and women. In the Special Issue celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Challenge Hypothesis. Hormones and Behavior, 123, 104665. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2019.104665

Casto, K.V., & Edwards, D.A. (2019). Testosterone and cortisol interact to predict within-team social status hierarchy among Olympic-level women athletes. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 5 (3), 237-250. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-019-00115-2

Recent reviews and commentaries

Casto, K. V., & Edwards, D. A. (2021). Individual differences in hormonal responsiveness to social encounters: Commentary on Félix et al., 2020 and review of pertinent issues. Hormones and Behavior, 129, 104921 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2020.104921

Casto, K.V., & Mehta, P.H. (2019). Competition, dominance, and social hierarchy. In L. Welling and T. Schackelford (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook on Evolutionary Psychology and Behavioral Endocrinology. Oxford University Press.

Edwards, D.A., & Casto, K.V. (2019). The social neuroendocrinology of athletic competition. In P. Mehta and O. Schultheiss (Eds.), The International Handbook of Social Neuroendocrinology. Routledge/Psychology Press.

Casto, K.V., & Prasad, S. (2017). Recommendations for the study of women in hormones and competition research. Hormones and Behavior, 92, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2017.05.009

Registered Reports (accepted in principle)

Casto, K.V., & Blake, K. (Stage 1 RR, Accepted Summer 2020). Hormonal contraceptive use, menstrual cycle phase, progesterone, and competitive endurance. Special Issue of Registered Reports. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology. https://psyarxiv.com/vn8zu