Memory and Attention Control Processes
Description of Research
My research investigates the memory and attention control processes involved in the planning and coordination of future actions (i.e., prospective memory), maintenance of goal-relevant information (i.e., working memory), encoding and retrieval of information in long-term memory (i.e., episodic memory), and monitoring and regulation of one’s own cognition (i.e., metamemory). Within each of these domains, a central question concerns age-related changes in these processes.
Neural-Net Modeling and Decision Making
Professor Daniel Levine's laboratory deals with both experimental and theoretical studies of decision making, cognitive-emotional interactions, and cognitive dissonance.
One of our current projects involves simulated gambling tasks in which the participant has to decide between two alternatives that provide different probabilities of winning or losing different amounts of (virtual, not actual) money. We look at the effects of various personality variables on gambling choices. We also consider the effect of how the alternatives are presented and how preferences are elicited.
Another project involves how emotion contributes to perceived value of resources. Responses of the same participants are compared on two analogous tasks, both involving an unexpected loss after a sequence of gains. Preliminary results suggest the amount of time participants are willing to invest could differ between the two tasks.
A third project involves different methods people use to reduce cognitive dissonance. Typically, cognitive dissonance studies assess the degree to which people will change relatively trivial attitudes or beliefs to be consonant with their behavior. However, when attitudes are particularly central to the person’s core identity, it is believed that they will use different methods to resolve cognitive dissonance than attitude change.
The laboratory also has a long-term goal of understanding how interactions among several brain regions (frontal lobes, amygdala, basal ganglia, etc.) contribute to emotionally-influenced decision making. To that end, the laboratory is involved in a collaborative project with a brain imaging laboratory at UT Southwest to discern relationships between brain region activations and decision style on a probability maximization task. Also, the laboratory has a long history of pioneering work in brain-based neural network modeling of cognition and behavior (see Dr. Levine ), and current modeling efforts are being integrated with the behavioral and physiological studies described above.
For information about applying to work in Dr. Dan Levine’s lab, contact him at Levine@uta.edu (817-272-3598)
My research examines some fundamental questions regarding the human cognitive system. I focus largely on two core cognitive abilities: attention control and working memory. More specifically, my research tries to understand why people differ in these cognitive abilities. Why is it difficult for people to sustain and control their attention? How do our attention and memory systems interact to give rise to complex cognitive processes? Recently, I have become particularly interested in determining what brain systems might drive individual differences in cognitive ability. To answer these questions, I use a combination of behavioral experiments, psychophysiological experiments (e.g., EEG, pupillometry), and individual differences methods (e.g., factor analysis, linear mixed modeling, structural equation modeling).
If you are interested in helping conduct this research, please contact me! I am welcoming new undergraduate research assistants into my lab in Fall 2020, and I will be accepting applications for Ph.D. students to begin in Fall 2021.