As a lab, we are interested in attention control, memory, and how these systems interact to give rise to complex cognition. We use a variety of methods to accomplish our research goals including behavioral experiments, individual-differences designs (factor analysis and structural equation modeling), and psychophysiological tools like eye-tracking, pupillometry, and EEG.
Biological bases for individual differences in cognition
Much of our ongoing work is using pupillometry - a measure of the eye's pupil - to probe functioning of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system. The pupil can provide an indirect measure of the LC-NE system, providing insight into the neurological underpinnings of cognition. We theorize that the LC-NE system is critical for goal-directed cognitive activity like attention, memory, and fluid abilities.
Vigilance and sustained attention
When people are asked to perform a difficult mental task for a long period of time, their performance typically worsens across time - a phenomenon known as the vigilance decrement. Why people experience vigilance decrements occur are a matter of debate. Our lab is using experiments, individual-differences designs, and psychophysiology to test theories regarding vigilance, sustained attention, and mental effort more generally.
Lifestyle factors and cognitive performance
Another ongoing project is using cognitive testing, pupillometry, self-report, and wearable actigraphy to assess the relations among cognitive performance, mental health, stress, sleep, and physical activity. We theorize that disrupted and dysregulated sleep and sedentary lifestyles might be one reason for low cognitive performance among otherwise healthy individuals.