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).
I study individual differences in adult cognitive development. I am interested in age-related declines in basic mechanisms of cognition, memory, and information processing, especially in terms of understanding ‘successful cognitive aging.’ That is, characterizing who declines and who does not, and evaluating possible explanations for the differences. A major focus of my research program is in metacognition and strategic self-regulation –evaluating how people monitor and adapt their behavior in tasks to improve their performance.
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.
Most of my current research would fall under the labels applied cognition or cognitive ergonomics: how cognition (e.g., knowledge, expertise, working memory, attention allocation, strategy selection) interacts with environmental components (e.g., technology, the representation of flight data, available automation, patient symptoms, presence of teammates) to affect the operator's performance, learning, transfer, workload, situation awareness, and strategic thinking.
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.
My research spans several related research areas of differential, educational, cognitive, applied experimental, and industrial and organizational psychology. Theory and empirical research I have conducted relates to the nature of adult learning, skill acquisition, student and employee selection, training, abilities, personality, and motivation.