Cognitive Neuroscience

Woman attaches sensors to brain-computer interface helmet

The members of the Cognitive Neuroscience group are concerned with how cognitive and emotional functioning are implemented in the neural architecture of the human brain.

Leader: Diane M. Beck

A large variety of cognitive functions are examined, including memory, language, emotion, and attention:

Investigating Memory
Researchers investigating memory examine issues such as whether different memory systems are important for learning facts as compared to skilled performance (e.g., playing the piano), and how the brain keeps information online to update the context that allows for a cohesiveness of experience.

Examining Language
Researchers examining language explore how and when individual word meaning and overall sentence structure are combined during comprehension, and how patterns of brain activity change as one learns a new language.

Examining Emotional Functioning
Researchers examining emotional functioning investigate how the interactions between brain regions relate to mood and determine what the cognitive and physiological markers that accompany certain types of psychopathology can tell us about the linkage of cognition and emotion.

Examining Attentional Functioning
Researchers examining attentional functioning are identifying the brain regions responsible for selecting sensory information as well as selection of a correct response, and examining how interactions of these regions affect attentional capacity.

Techniques employed include psychophysiological methods, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), event-related brain potentials, near-IR optical imaging, eye movement monitoring, and behavioral performance methods. The populations used in these studies include neurologically intact individuals as well as populations with neurological and psychiatric disorders.