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Department of Psychological Sciences


Cognitive/Human Factors

Areas of expertise in our division include judgment and decision making (Young & Brase), social and statistical reasoning (Brase), event cognition (Bailey & Loschky), episodic and working memory (Bailey), visual cognition (Loschky), human-computer interaction (Young & Loschky), and auditory learning and cognition (Wisniewski and Zakrzewski).

Event Cognition, Working Memory, Episodic Long-Term Memory, and Aging

Dr. Heather Bailey does research on memory for everyday activities.  Her research focuses on individual differences and age-related differences in working memory updating and long-term retention of everyday activities.  Some current projects include:

  • The role that prior knowledge plays in how people segment, encode and later remember an event, and how this relationship changes with age.

  • How people update their mental model when they read about or observe a change along various situational dimensions, such as a change in characters or spatial locations.

  • The role of strategy use in working memory performance and its predictive relationship with higher-order cognitive abilities.

Dr. Bailey is conducting research as a Project Leader in the Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Approaches to Plasticity (CNAP).

Dr. Heather Bailey (hbailey@ksu.edu) has additional information concerning this research. 

Judgment and Decision Making & Social and Statistical Reasoning

Dr. Gary Brase does research on human reasoning, judgments, and decision making.  His work focuses on how evolutionary considerations can illuminate the processes behind how people use different types of information to make inferences and conclusions.  Some current projects in this area include:

  • How people understand and work with numbers differently depending on how they are presented (for example, as frequencies, percentages, fractions, or single-event probabilities).

  • How people evaluate social situations such as exchanges, precautions, threats, and group memberships.

  • How people make decisions in interpersonal relationships, including things such as if and when to have children, judgments of attractiveness and estimating mate values.

Dr. Gary Brase (gbrase@ksu.edu) has additional information concerning this research.

Visual Cognition, Human-Computer Interaction & Comprehension

Dr. Lester Loschky does visual cognition research.  His primary interests are in three areas: real world scene perception, human-computer interaction, and comprehension of both visual narratives (films and picture stories) and language.  A unifying thread through these areas is a focus on the interactions between perception, attention, memory, and comprehension processes. 

  • Research topics in scene perception have included:

  • How people can rapidly categorize a scene within a single eye fixation 

  • What draws people’s attention in scenes, and how that changes from moment-to-moment

  • What people remember from scenes, and how that is related to their eye movements

  • Research in human-computer interaction has focused on the dynamics of computer displays that change based on where you look (gaze-contingent displays), and using those to measure how far into a viewer's visual periphery they spread their attention from moment to moment (gaze-contingent useful field of view measures).  Other research has focused on using computerized visual cueing to improve problem solving for learning Physics and Mathematics.

  • Research on comprehension has included listening comprehension, reading comprehension, and more recently film and picture story comprehension.  Some common themes in several of these research projects are inference generation (in both linguistic and visual comprehension) and the roles of working memory and eye movements in that process.

Dr. Loschky is the Associate Director of the Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Approaches to Plasticity (CNAP).

Dr. Lester Loschky (loschky@ksu.edu) [Lab Website] has additional information concerning this research.

Judgment and Decision Making & Human-Computer Interaction

Dr. Young's primary research program involves the study of decision making in dynamic environments. He is currently studying (a) the variables that influence the identification of causes in continuously unfolding environments and (b) the situational and individual variables related to impulsive and risky choice in video game environments. This work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office for Scientific Research, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse. He is also branching out into the area of EEG/ERP brain wave analysis in the area of decision making. Dr. Young continues to integrate his background in computer science with his interest in psychology through the development of computational models of environment-behavior relations. 

Dr. Michael Young (michaelyoung@ksu.edu). For more information, please see his Lab Website.

Auditory Learning and Cognition

Dr. Wisniewski's research program examines the processes that underlie experience-related changes in auditory acuities (i.e., auditory perceptual learning), and the roles of attention and memory in listening performance. This research serves the applied realm by informing the design of training and treatment regimens intended to mitigate auditory deficiencies.  The work is further informing the development of methods for enhancing human performance in Air Force operational scenarios with the help of funding from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.

Dr. Matthew Wisniewski (mgwisniewski@ksu.edu). For more information, please see his Lab Website.

Dr. Zakrzewski's research seeks to understand the capacity of higher-level human cognition. In the past, I have explored evolutionary origins by testing cognitive abilities in rhesus macaques in two domains: (1) metacognition (“cognition about cognition”) using the uncertainty-monitoring paradigm, (2) explicit categorization in the context of multiple-system theory of categorization. Currently, I am focused on how individuals’ metacognitive judgments (e.g., confidence) predict performance accuracy during psychophysical discrimination and memory tasks as well as exploring neural correlates of confidence using electroencephalography (EEG). This work has important implications for higher-level cognition across species because it could address concerns that stimulus-response associations drive non-human metacognition.

Dr. Alexandria Zakrzewski (aczakrzewski@ksu.edu). For more information, please see her Lab Website.