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My research interests fall in the general area of cognitive psychology. For the last several years, my work has focused on short term memory. This is an area of cognition that has seen a revival of interest in the last 15 years. My research has been designed to explore implications of the working memory model for how capable humans are at storing different kinds of information at the same time. Specifically, I have conducted experiments that reveal an interesting limit on the number of different kinds of information that people can store about a single series of items. In general, when asked to keep track of the color and spatial position of easily discriminated forms (letters or simple shapes) displayed one at a time on a computer monitor, students can only keep track of two of these attributes, typically the spatial position and the color or form of each item in the series but not both color and form of the items. This limit appears to reflect the way that the components of the working memory system operate together to cope with the demands of a complex immediate memory task. Future research will be designed to further clarify the nature of this limit on working memory capacity with an eye toward determining what it tells us about the limits of humans to multi-task.
I am happy to invite students to join my small lab group to conduct experiments on short term memory. Students will be involved in the planning, design, execution, and analysis of experiments. I am most interested in working with students who have a strong interest in cognitive psychology and who have computer skills and/or an interest in developing computer skills for both conducting experiments and analyzing data.
Prior to studying working memory, I have conducted research on a variety of other issues in the general area of cognitive psychology. In none of these areas do I consider my previous work complete. For example, I have conducted experiments on each of the following topics:
1.The role of type of input processing on the formation of false memories for specific words in recognition memory.
2.The impact of flawed input on the implicit learning of the underlying structure of complex, rule-governed sets of stimuli, such as a miniature or artificial language.
3.The relative value of different kinds of informational clues in the solution of word fragment completion problems.
Although I am not actively conducting experiments on these issues at the moment, I continue to have an interest in them and could reactivate my research program if an interested student wanted to pursue one of these topics.