My overarching goal is to ensure that technology is developed with the end user in mind. All aspects of design, implementation, adoption, and use of a system or device can be enhanced by considering the perceptual, cognitive, and social needs and abilities of those who will use it. Research in my Sonification Lab focuses on three main areas:
Cognitive control refers to the set of processes by which we direct our actions toward a specific goal. At the most basic level, control processes allow us to translate a presented stimulus into an appropriate motor action. However, these processes and representations quickly become more complex when trying to understand more involved behaviors such as learning peoples names or watching and understanding films.
I am broadly interested in high-level aspects of perceptual decision-making. My research attempts to elucidate the brain mechanisms that influence what we perceive, as well as build computational models that explain current findings and lead to novel testable predictions. Specific topics include: the role of the prefrontal cortex in modulating the perceptual process, the computational principles behind attention and expectation, the mechanisms that allow us metacognitive insight into the accuracy of our perceptual decisions, and Bayesian models of perception as inference.
My research interests are in the development and application of item response theory (IRT) models to measure psychological constructs. Over the past two decades, I have developed a family of polytomous IRT models to unfold responses to test or questionnaire items. These unfolding models imply higher item scores to the extent that an individual is located close to an item on a unidimensional latent continuum. Unfolding item response models can be used to measure attitudes using responses from traditional Likert or Thurstone scales.
My area of expertise is in the cognitive neuroscience of aging. My specialties include the application of functional and structural neuroimaging methods to understand cognitive and brain aging as well as behavioral endocrinology. I have devoted much of my career to the study of the effects of steroid hormones on behavior and brain function. Among my contributions to this field are studies assessing the effect of gonadal steroids on spatial cognition, hemispheric asymmetry and interhemispheric communication.
My research examines the role of motivation and self-regulation in work and achievement settings. Past projects include work on how goals affect resource allocation during learning and performance and the role of self-regulation in job search and reemployment following job loss.
The goal of the research in my Systems Psychology Lab (SPL) is to understand how coordinating activities with others helps shape our thoughts, actions, and performance capabilities. Team dynamics occur in many contexts—medicine, sports, military—and are fundamental to accomplishing a variety of human tasks. Therefore, research in the SPL seeks to understand and enhance human performance in team tasks using a variety of methodological techniques, including communication analysis, kinematics, physiology, and neural approaches.
I am interested working memory capacity and the relationship of that concept to the concept of attention control. I have argued that individual differences in the construct measured as working memory capacity reflects differences in the ability to control attention to internally generated and externally elicited representations and that differences in this ability is an important component of general fluid intelligence (Engle & Kane, 2004).
We all experience associative memory failures like forgetting a person’s name or where we parked the car. These failures occur with greater frequency as we age and they are also one of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. With the rapidly increasing population of older adults, it is of vital importance to understand the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie these failures.