Paul Verhaeghen

Historically, most of the work in my lab has centered around cognitive aging: What happens to people's minds as they grow older? Much of my meta-analytic work on boils down to the question of the dimensionality of cognitive aging: Does it all go together when it goes? Our current experimental work on aging focuses on cognitive control. Cognitive control concerns dealing with complex tasks in a complex environment, which includes: (a) making sure that only the appropriate stimuli from the environment enter into consciousness; (strong) continuously updating the content of working memory ; (c) switching between different tasks; (d) coordinating the different actions that need to be performed; and (e) switching back and forth between relevant stimuli. Some of these aspects seem to be more susceptible to aging than others (strong, c, and d); some have different effects of speed and accuracy (e).

We are also conducting research in working memory per se. We are very interested in working memory dynamics. How (or even when) do people search working memory? Can we distinguish different subsystems in working memory depending on the retrieval dynamics? Are the memory processes in working memory cognitive primitives, or are they subsumed under known mechanisms of attentional control?

A third research interest is creativity, more specifically the link between creativity, mood disorder, and different types of rumination (or, as we like to think of it, mental play).

Professor of Psychology
JS Coon 126
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Ph.D. (1994) Psychology University of Leuven, Belgium

Selected Publications: 
  • Trani, A., & Verhaeghen, P. (2018). Foggy windows: Pupillary responses during task preparation. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
  • Verhaeghen, P. (2014). The elements of cognitive aging: Meta-analyses of age-related differences in processing speed and their consequences. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Karbach. J., & Verhaeghen, P. (2014). Making working memory work: A meta-analysis of executive control and working memory training in younger and older adults. Psychological Science, 25, 2027-2037.
  • Price, J., Colflesh, G. J. H., Cerella, J., & Verhaeghen, P. (2014). Making working memory work: The effects of extended practice on focus capacity and the processes of updating, forward access, and random access. Acta Psychologica, 148,19-24
  • Verhaeghen, P., Joormann, J., & Aikman, S. N. (2014). Creativity, mood, and the examined life: Self-reflective rumination boosts creativity, brooding breeds dysphoria. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 8, 211-218.
  • Verhaeghen, P. (2011). Aging and executive control: Reports of a demise greatly exaggerated. Current Directions in Psychological Sciences, 20, 174-180.
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