Research Projects

Attention Span: In recent years, the media has been pushing the idea that the attention span of students has been declining generation by generation. The media blames television programs and fast-action video games for this decline. Does the decline exist and is this what people really think? If so, what are the actual reasons for decline? What can be done to remedy the situation? The attention study will look at perceptions of attention, attention spans in students, and possible reasons for changes in attention capacity to explore this “hot” area.

 

Cognitive Reappraisal of Emotion: Successful emotion regulation (the ability to control emotional experience and expression) is associated with better physical, mental, and social health, while poor emotion regulation is associated with negative outcomes, such as depression, stress, and cardiovascular disease. This line of research is investigating the role of working memory on various forms of emotion regulation. Studies focus on the regulation of subjective emotional experience as well as regulation of emotion during decision making.

 

Decision making: This study asks whether there are age differences in decision making when choices must be made quickly with limited information, or when the decision maker must pay attention to different types of information. Using what is discovered about age differences in decision-making abilities may help foster the development of programs and policies that are more sensitive to the needs of youth.

 

Delay Discounting: This study evaluates the interplay of titrating delay and probability in monetary and material reward decisions with relation to working memory and socioeconomic status.

 

Investigation of Irrelevant Speech Effect with a Running Memory Span Task: The irrelevant speech effect occurs when irrelevant background noise interferes with memory performance (e.g. Cole & Walsh, 1976; Jones et al., 1992; & Salame & Baddeley, 1982). This study uses manipulation of a running memory span task to determine if rehearsal is a necessary component of the irrelevant speech effect.

 

Investigation of Strategy in Working Memory Tasks: Individual differences have been demonstrated in the types of strategies (i.e. rehearsal, chunking) used to manipulate large amount of information (i.e. Dunlosky & Kane, 2006). The primary objective of this study is to determine the distribution of strategies used in common working memory tasks (i.e. immediate serial recall and operation span). Additional objective include determining whether certain strategies lead to superior performance, and whether high performing participants choose one strategy for all tasks or switch strategies according to task demands.

 

The Relationship between Working Memory and Insight: This study looks at the 9-dot problem as a potential analytical problem as opposed to an insight problem. It demonstrates the relationship between problem solving and working memory.

 

Short Term Memory Repetition: Practice related changes in working memory have been observed following a single hour of repetition. This study aims to determine whether repetition of a verbal working memory task leads to improved performance and protection against interference. Both spatial and verbal stimuli will be used in order to examine whether the impact of repetition is domain specific or domain genera.

 

Working Memory Training: Recent research in the field of cognitive psychology suggests that specific forms of mental practice can result in improved cognitive performance, just as bodily exercise can lead to greater physical performance. This study seeks to demonstrate the impact of “mental exercise” on cognitive function, specifically the effects of training working memory and spatial visualization. All study participants complete an initial cognitive assessment and may be offered the opportunity to receive training on a set of working memory or spatial visualization tasks. Through this training the study seeks to demonstrate a beneficial effect on working memory, as well as generalization to a wider range of cognitive functions.

 

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