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.
My early research examined neural mechanisms of sensory-based recollections. I have also become interested in understanding how memory operates under varying demands on attention, and how we arrive at decisions that are based on our memories and perceptions. The lab has been studying perceptual decision making in order to identify neural signals related to different stages of the decision process. We have recently been building from our early research in this area to study how memory, attention, and decision-making abilities change in healthy aging.
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.
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.