Leida Tolentino, Ph.D.

photo of Professor Leida Tolentino 

"Using the mind to gain insight into itself is one of the most fascinating of human undertakings.”


  • Ph.D., Cognitive Psychology & Neuroscience, University of Pittsburgh
  • B.S., Management Science & Information Systems, University of Massachusetts at Boston


Professor Leida Tolentino is a self-described insight midwife and passion cheerleader. As a core faculty facilitator in SBCC’s Affective Learning Institute (ALI), Professor Tolentino’s continually-evolving teaching philosophy centers on building connection with students and awakening them to the beauty, fun, and power of (self-)knowledge. She is helping to create everyday psychology superheroes.

A lifelong educator with a doctorate in psychology and neuroscience, Professor Tolentino has previously conducted research in the biotech, nonprofit, and academic sectors, including wide-ranging studies evaluating the effectiveness of pharmaceutical compounds and educational programs alike. She has published peer-reviewed articles investigating the brain mechanisms of language learning and bilingualism; her current research focuses on optimal learning (scholarship of teaching and learning - SoTL). Leida Tolentino is the founder and president of the Fundação Doenças do Movimento em Cabo Verde, a foundation dedicated to research, raising awareness, and advocating for people diganosed with movement disorders in Cape Verde.

Professor Tolentino is co-chair of the psychology department, a mother and spouse. 

Courses Taught at SBCC

  • Psych 100: General Psychology
  • Psych 110: Introduction to Physiological Psychology
  • Psych 145: Human Development
  • Psych 200: Research Methods & Experimental Design


Tolentino, L.C. (2020). The bilingual advantage? Cognitive functions and neural mechanisms. Atlas do I e II Encontro Cabo-verdiano de Língua Portuguesa. Praia, Cabo Verde.

Tolentino, L. C., & Tokowicz, N. (2014). Cross-language similarity modulates effectiveness of second language grammar instructionLanguage Learning, 64(2), 279-309.

Tolentino, L. C., Rudo, Z., & Wilson, A. (2012). Louisiana Department of Education after-school programs: Evaluation report school year 2010. SEDL.

Tolentino, L. C., & Tokowicz, N. (2011). Across languages, space, and time: A review of the role of cross-language similarity in L2 (morpho)syntactic processing as revealed by fMRI and ERPStudies in Second Language Acquisition, 33(1), 91-125.

Tolentino, L. C., & Tokowicz, N. (2009). Are pumpkins better than heaven? An ERP investigation of order effects in the concrete-word advantageBrain and Language, 110(1), 12-22.

Academic Interests

  • Scholarly Teaching and SoTL
  • Affective Learning
  • Educational Neuroscience
  • Psycholinguistics & Neurolinguistics
  • Bi-/multilingualism
  • Neuroscience of Dance

Other Interests

Dr. Tolentino is a dancer with a passion for West African styles and their forms in the diaspora (Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban). In her teaching, choreography, and performance, she blends different world influences, and utilizes dance as a vehicle for authentic expression, social connection and spiritual elevation.

Campus Location



WCC 134

Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Fridays 10 a.m. - noon (Fridays Zoom only)
and by appointment (Zoom)
(805) 965-0581 x4488