Faculty in our department are involved in theoretical and experimental research including attention, memory, learning and skill acquisition, language, and information processing.



For a directory of department research laboratory websites, use the following links:



Our faculty are involved in a number of UC Irvine research centers, including:




Batchelder, Berg, Chubb, D'Zmura, Dosher, Falmagne, Grossman, Hickok, Hoffman, Iverson, Kean, Lee, Liljeholm, Loftus, Narens, Pearl, Richards, Romney, Saberi, Sarnecka, Sperling, Srinivasan, Steyvers, Vandekerckhove, Watt, Wright

Research in attention deals with quantifying the selective processing of perceptions and actions. For instance, visual attention research emphasizes the study of selective processing of spatial locations, objects, stimulus attributes, and the relation of attention to visual motion perception. Similar issues are studied in auditory recognition, where attention may focus on different auditory cues. Current faculty research programs investigate: which kinds of features are available preattentively; the neural mechanisms of attentional modulation of perception and action using human brain imaging; quantitative models of how attention is focused, distributed, and switched among sensory stimuli; how well different forms of attention can be entrained and how long attention can be maintained.

The ability to learn and remember are fundamental cognitive capacities. Current faculty research programs in memory investigate: the mechanisms of forgetting in different memory domains; metamemory, including the feeling of knowing and judgements of familiarity; assessment of deficits in Alzheimer's disease and aphasia; speed and accuracy of retrieval and its relation to encoding; quantitative models of memory including models of storage and retrieval, of priming, of source discrimination, and of the form of forgetting; the relation of short-term memory function to reading; very short-term visual memory; neural mechanisms of short- and long-term memory using human brain imaging.

Information Processing
Information processing analyses of the performance of cognitive tasks trace the sequence of mental operations and their products (information). Current faculty research programs in information processing investigate: the ways that speed is traded for accuracy in both retrieval from memory and in the production of aimed movements; quantitative models that characterize how distributions of response times are related to characteristics of component processes; new measures of the sensitivity and bias of decisions; variability in cognitive parameters.

Learning and Skill Acquisition
Research on learning and skill acquisition brings together many elements of memory, attention, and information processing. Current faculty research programs in learning and skill acquisition investigate: the development of reading ability; motor learning and generalization in normal subjects and clinical populations; mathematical models of classical learning theory such as Markov processes; the mapping of knowledge spaces to provide a principled basis for computer aided instruction.



Batchelder, Berg, Brewer, Chubb, Dosher, D'Zmura, Grossman, Hickok, Kean, Krichmar, Liljeholm, Lyon, McGaugh, Neftci, Saberi, Sperling, Srinivasan, Wright, Zeng

A major research goal of the Department of Cognitive Sciences is to characterize the architecture and computational properties of human cognitive systems. Because models of cognitive systems must ultimately make contact with models of neural systems, many cognitive scientists have turned to neuroscience, both as an additional source of information in formulating and refining cognitive theories, and also to investigate the nature of the mind/brain relation itself. The biological foundation of perceptual, motor, and higher cognitive capacities is an area of interest to Cognitive Sciences faculty and affiliated faculty from the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, the School of Medicine, and the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.

Current faculty research programs use a wide range of methods include neuroimaging (fMRI and PET), electrophysiology (EEG and MEG), and clinical populations (neuropsychology). Three EEG systems are set up in Cognitive Sciences and a research-dedicated 4 Tesla MRI system has recently been installed on campus. Access to clinical populations is facilitated by research affiliations with area hospitals and clinics and through the Alzheimer's Disease Diagnostic and Research Center at UCI. Related research units include The Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, The Irvine Hearing and Speech Sciences Research Unit, and The Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia. Current faculty research programs investigate: binocular rivalry and visual consciousness; cortical dynamics in visual feature integration; sensorimotor integration; frontal lobe development and executive function; attention; memory; learning; language.

Computational and mathematical modeling of neural processes complements experimental research in the department. Current faculty research programs include modeling: the conversion of 2-dimensional images stimulating the retina into a 3-dimensional percept; how vision tunes itself to detect the characteristic structures in its environment; supraretinal sensor classes, for instance, neural arrays for sensing motion, stereo disparity, and texture; "cognitive microprocesses" in the brain; visual processes of light adaptation, flicker sensitivity, contrast detection, and stereopsis; binaural interaction; dynamics in large-scale cortical networks.



D'Zmura, Hickok, Kean, Lee, Pearl, Saberi, Sarnecka, Srinivasan, Steyvers, Watt

Language Acquisition and Development
Research on language acquisition & development includes experimental and computational modeling studies of how infants and young children develop linguistic systems such as phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics; the influence of language acquisition on language development in populations over time; how children learn to read, with the aim of developing improved teaching methods; how second languages are acquired and how knowledge of two or more languages affects cognition.

Language comprehension involves the real-time construction of linguistic representations at several levels; physical speech sounds must be perceived as categorical phonemes, phonemes must be combined to identify a word representation that is stored in long-term memory, and words must be combined according to the syntactic rules of the language. Research in this department combines detailed linguistic theories with several behavioral methodologies to investigate the nature of these representations, and how they are constructed in real-time.

Computational Linguistics
Continuing increases in computational power and the availability of large linguistic corpora drive strong advances in computational linguistics, especially when coupled with insights from disciplines such as cognitive science, linguistics, and computer science. Research within computational linguistics includes using probabilistic topic models and other data mining techniques to extract meaning from text; automatic deception detection in electronic documents such as email, instant messaging, and internet forum exchanges; relational analysis of social networks as evidenced by linguistic traces on web pages; and improving automatic language learning using insights from computational models of human language acquisition.

The joint use of behavioral, neurophysiological (EEG, MEG, and fMRI), and neuropsychological methods provides information on how brain systems support language function. Current research includes work on brain networks involved in speech perception and production, sensory-motor integration, conceptual-semantic representation, syntactic processes, brain-computer interfaces for communicating imagined speech, brain language networks in bilinguals, among others.



Batchelder, Dosher, D'Zmura, Falmagne, Hoffman, Iverson, Lee, Narens, Sperling, Srinivasan, Stern, Steyvers, Vandekerckhove, Wright, Yellott

UCI is an internationally recognized center for research on mathematical models in the behavioral and social sciences. Through the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences (IMBS), a Ph.D. program in Mathematical Behavioral Sciences is offered for students who are particularly strong in mathematics, and an M.A. program is offered for those who wish to minor in this area to complement another program concentration. A substantial fraction of the Cognitive Sciences faculty are involved in this program and mathematical behavioral science is an emphasis within the doctoral program in Psychology.

Quantitative Modeling
This area involves primarily the development of new probabilistic models of data structures. Current faculty research programs investigate: multinomial models, designed as an alternative to ANOVA for analyzing data from many classes of cognitive experiments; knowledge spaces, designed to obtain a better understanding of the degree to which students have mastered a branch of knowledge such as algebra or geometry; mathematical models in perception, including research on the geometric nature of color space and computational models of visual motion perception and attention; multinomial processing tree models including discrete state information processing models for experimental paradigms in cognitive psychology, especially in the area of human memory.

Measurement refers, in practice, to two related activities. One is the development of methods, including those noted under Quantitative Modeling, for organizing data according to some numerical or geometric model. The other topic concerns qualitative conditions on data that allow them to be represented in some numerical or geometric structure. The methods of representational measurement are, primarily, those of abstract algebra. Current faculty research programs investigate: cultural consensus theory, an information pooling model for aggregating responses from informants.

Decision and Choice
The area of individual decision making is studied by several disciplines including psychology, management science, and economics. The primary mathematical methods are special cases of the quantitative and measurement methods, and these are tested empirically in both laboratory experiments and observational studies. Exemplary topics include the stochastic evolution of preferences.



Berg, Braunstein, Dosher, D'Zmura, Falmagne, Fowlkes, Grossman, Hickok, Hoffman, Iverson, Liljeholm, Middlebrooks, Richards, Saberi, Sperling, Srinivasan, Wright, Yellott, Zeng

Research and graduate training in perception and action is a major focus of the Cognitive Sciences faculty. The Department is internationally recognized as a leading center for quantitative research on perception. The Department's Perception and Action faculty and graduate students meet weekly for bag lunches and a seminar. These weekly meetings bring together not only departmental faculty but also faculty and students with related interests from a variety of campus units including Engineering, Information and Computer Science, Mathematics, and Neurobiology and Behavior.

Research in vision encompasses a wide range of areas. Current faculty research programs investigate: the mechanisms of contrast gain control in color vision; the density and packing arrangements of chromatically distinct cone types using psychophysics; the geometrical structure of color space; quantitative analysis of object color perception; the recovery of structure from motion; mechanisms for recovering 3D structure from dynamic 2D displays; mechanisms of attention in detecting color targets; metacontrast; texture perception; visual attention; binocular rivalry and visual consciousness; perceptual organization; three independent systems of visual motion perception and their relationship to the processes of attention and form perception.

Current faculty research programs in audition include: empirical studies of complex tone discrimination; speech perception; formal modeling of auditory threshold phenomena; formal analysis of psychophysical measurement and scaling; motion perception, models of binaural cross-correlation; Head-related Transfer Functions that produce perceptual externalization of headphone-delivered sounds used in virtual-reality systems.

Research on action involves a quantitative analysis of the cognitive mechanisms necessary to learn and carry out skilled movements. Current faculty research addresses the central questions of motor-program representation and generalizability. These issues are studied using handwriting, rhythmic performance, aimed hand movements, and bimanual movements. The pursuit of these basic research questions has also led to several applied research projects involving clinical populations (patients with Alzheimer's dementia, Parkinson's disease, and focal dystonia of the hand) and handwriting pedagogy.


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