Mind Lecture Series - Spring 2017

The Mind Lecture Series is made possible through the support of the Mind Lecture Series Endowment provided by
Dr. Susan Kemper.

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Effects of Poverty on the Development of Psychopathology and Affective Neurocircuitry.’

Alderson Auditorium, KU Union

Christopher S. Monk, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology, University of Michigan


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Past Mind Lecture Speakers

Spring 2016

Tomas Griffiths, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley

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Spring 2015

Dr. David Strayer
Professor, Cognition & Neural Science
Department of Psychology, University of Utah

‘Why talking to your car can drive you to distraction’

Dr. David Strayer, the world’s leading expert on distracted driving, presented the latest research on cognitive distraction stemming from the use of voice-based technologies in the vehicle. Dr. Strayer and his colleagues used a combination of methods to assess the mental workload of the driver. The data indicate that voice-based interactions in the vehicle have unintended consequences that may adversely affect traffic safety. Dr. Strayer is a professor in Cognitive and Neural Sciences at the University of Utah. His research interests cover attention and performance, distracted cognition in a vehicle, and improving attention through interaction in nature—Cognition in the Wild.

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Spring 2014

Dr. Sarah Creem-Regehr
Professor, Cognition & Neural Science
Department of Psychology, University of Utah

Embodiment in Spatial Cognition: How and Why Visual Body Representations Might Influence Perception of the Spaces Around Us.

Dr. Creem-Regehr is an inventive researcher that investigates the neural and behavioral interfaces between perception and action. She's well-known for conducting fun and interactive research, covering the perception of tools, mechanisms of spatial cognition, as well as interfacing with computational analysis. Her graduate student alumna can be found peppered throughout academia and industry alike.

Spring 2013

Dr. Donald MacKay
Professor of Cognitive Psychology
University of California, Los Angeles

Brain, Memory, Language: Lessons from an Aging Amnesic (H.M.)

Dr. MacKay’s lab is currently engaged in two lines of research directed at understanding the neural bases of language, memory, and normal cognitive aging. His main neuroscience-linked research line concerns brain correlates of normal cognitive aging in healthy 65-90 year olds. Additionally, his second line of neuroscience-related research concerns the neural bases of language and memory in normal and brain damaged humans. For example, a currently ongoing project is examining parallels between the language deficits and the memory deficits and of a famous amnesic patient (H.M.) with bilateral damage to the hippocampus and amygdala.

His published research combines human experimentation with theoretical analysis in the areas of neuropsychology, psycholinguistics and cognitive psychology, especially language comprehension as revealed by studies of ambiguity and very short term memory, language production as revealed by studies of naturally occurring and experimentally induced speech errors, encoding under time pressure, and relations between language perception and production, together with relations between language and other aspects of cognition such as everyday actions, and sequencing and timing in skilled behavior. (Text from UCLA’s Department of Psychology website)

This lecture is hosted by the Department of Psychology’s Cognitive Psychology Program through the support of the Mind Lecture Series Endowment.
Spring 2012

Dr. Michael Kane
Professor of Psychology
University of North Carolina, Greensboro

“What mind wandering reveals about executive control & its variation”

Individual differences in working memory capacity (WMC) predict complex cognitive capabilities (e.g., reading, reasoning) as well as performance in relatively simple attention tasks. Our ‘executive attention’ theory of WMC argues that shared variance between WMC and higher-order cognition reflects primarily variation in attention control. In this talk, I will explore the WMC-attention relation by focusing on goal-neglect and mind-wandering phenomena. Goal neglect refers to momentary failures to respond according to goals despite knowing and appreciating them. I’ll argue that goal neglect (and WMC variation therein) sometimes results from mind-wandering, the subjective experience of off-task thought. Via daily-life and laboratory studies, I’ll suggest that mind-wandering research can inform theories of WMC and executive control.

Where are your thoughts going when you’re not focused on the task at hand? Ever catch yourself “spacing out” when reading an uninteresting document? William James suggests that our thoughts are like a stream. However, like water in a stream, our thoughts can and do diverge from the main task when given the opportunity. Our minds have the tendency to wander… Why? Research suggests that almost 50% of our everyday cognitions consist of task unrelated thoughts or mind wandering. Given the ubiquitous nature of mind wandering, it is surprising that little has been done to investigate the underlying processes that drive our minds to wander.

Executive control is something that we as cognitive psychologists often take for granted, however, the disruption of executive control, either by chronic impairment or temporary lapse, can lead to numerous problems. Most of us readily acknowledge executive control of some form in attention. The notion of MW takes a different approach to investigating control. Rather than directly studying the processes that control attention, MW investigates the processes that cause lapses in control. Sometimes turning research on its head can provide additional insight to processes that we have grown accustomed to studying. Moreover, given the ubiquitous nature of MW (almost 50% of our thoughts) it is a great candidate for further enquiry. Does MW have value to higher order cognitive processes, does MW result in poorer performance on certain tasks because of resource competition? MW is a recent “hot-topic” in cognitive psychology. An entire symposium was dedicated to this topic during the 2009 Psychonomic Society meeting and Dr. Kane was one of the speakers. Some of our graduate students attended this lecture, and were very excited by his research. This topic has been the focus of many informal conversations among the students, and we are excited to have this chance to bring Dr. Kane in as the MIND lecture visiting scholar this year. Given that MW is not an area currently under investigation at KU, Dr. Kane’s visit will be a wonderful opportunity to get some insight to this process and potentially fuel further research.

Our guest for this year’s Cognitive Psychology Mind Lecture Series, Dr. Michael Kane, investigates the role of executive functions in mind wandering. Some of his other areas of research include: attentional control and working memory capacity. His research “explores the nature of WMC’s predictive power, in order to understand cognitive individual differences and the functioning of the core attention and memory processes that are broadly important to ‘real world’ cognition”. His work has appeared in Psychological Bulletin, JEP: General, Psychological Science, and Memory & Cognition, to name a few. He is a current recipient of an NIMH grant looking at executive control and schizotypy.

This lecture is made possible through the support of the Mind Lecture Series Endowment. A reception will follow after the lecture.

Spring 2011

Dr. Nora S. Newcombe
Professor of Psychology
Temple University

Nora S. Newcombe, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at Temple University and PI of the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC). A nationally recognized expert on cognitive development, Dr. Newcombe’s research has focused on spatial development and the development of episodic and autobiographical memory. Her work has been federally funded by NICHD and the National Science Foundation for over 20 years. She is the author of numerous scholarly chapters and articles on aspects of cognitive development, and the author or editor of three books, including Making Space: The Development of Spatial Representation and Reasoning.