About Us


Most of our work focuses on short-term memory, a.k.a. "working" memory. Broadly speaking, working memory is a general-purpose mental workspace that allows you to hold onto and perform operations on fleeting sensory information. Ever repeat a phone number to yourself until you could write it down? That's one form of working memory. 

Who cares?

Working memory has two limits: the amount of stuff you can store, and how long you can store it for. We can measure these limits in different people, and it turns out that they're strong predictors of scores on tests of general cognitive ability (IQ, SAT, reading comprehension). Moreover, storage capacity and duration are disrupted in many developmental, learning, psychiatric, and neurological conditions that manifest at different times across the lifespan, and these disruptions tend to persist even when "classic" clinical symptoms associated with these conditions are controlled via therapeutic interventions. This, in turn, can have a major impact on patients' educational attainment and overall quality-of-life (e.g., it's hard to complete a list of complex tasks at work if you can only remember that list for a few seconds). 

Ok, so what do you do?

Human memory systems, however elegant, are only useful if you can access information in those systems to make decisions and plan actions. Thus, we're interested in the nexus between memory and motor planning. For example, how do you get from a (highly abstract) memory representation to a choice like "go to restaurant A instead of B", or (more common to standard laboratory tasks) "press button 1 or button 2"?

This seems like an incredibly simple question, but we haven't been able to solve it ... yet. So, our lab studies the psychology and neurobiology of these memory-to-action transformations. Most of our work uses combinations of behavioral testing and non-invasive measurements of human brain activity like EEG and fMRI, but we also dabble in mathematical modeling (e.g., if you were going to build a brain to solve a problem, what would the architecture look like?), and brain stimulation techniques like transcranial magnetic stimulation.