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Areas of Emphasis

The Cognitive Area encompasses six broad areas and emphasizes laboratory and neuroimaging research and cognitive modeling in each:


Memory underpins people's ability to perform practically all higher-level processing. Within the program, we study human memory using behavioral, neuroscientific and computational modeling methodologies. Faculty examine episodic, semantic, and autobiographical memory. The impact of age, emotion, psychiatric disorders, and neurological disorders on memory is also a significant research emphasis within the program.

Perception and Action

Perception and action have a reciprocal relationship in that perception guides action, which in turn influences perception. Topics of research in this area involving numerous faculty in psychology and engineering include sports activities, vehicular control, the analysis of 3D structure from 2D image data and the recognition of objects and faces. A central theme in all of these areas is to develop computational models that can simulate the essential characteristics of perceptual and motor performance, and to test those models with appropriate behavioral experiments.

Language and Speech

Research at Ohio State spans the spectrum of inquiry, from basic processes of phonetics and phonology, through morphological and lexical phenomena, to the study of syntax, semantics and discourse. Using event related potential laboratories, we investigate the time course of syntactic processing. Using behavioral paradigms, we explore the way in which people recognize spoken words, resolve anaphora and perform inferential processing. Computational modeling and the analysis of language corpora play a central role in our approach to psycholinguistics. We also have strong ties to the Ohio State Linguistics Department, one of the top programs in the US.

Cognitive Modeling

Many of the faculty in the Cognitive and Quantitative programs believe that insight into cognitive processes can only be derived through the construction and appreciation of computational models that enforce consistency and reveal the impact of interactions among component processes. At Ohio State, we place a strong emphasis on development, analysis and evaluation of cognitive models across a wide range of domains of inquiry.

Cognitive Neuroscience

Exploration of the manifestation of cognitive processes in the brain is made possible by neuroimaging techniques, in particular functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). The Psychology department houses a 3T Siemens Prisma Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner at the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Brain Imaging (CCBBI, http://ccbbi.osu.edu). The recently upgraded scanner is capable of running the latest Human Connectome Project (HCP) sequences for both structural and functional MRI studies. The scanner is equipped with a state-of-the-art stimulus presentation and behavioral response systems. Several EEG setups are also available.

Cognitive Development

Research in cognitive development focuses on the development of attention, learning, memory, language and concept acquisition, and interactions among these components. Faculty study cognition in infants and young children using preferential looking, habituation, EEG, and microgenetic approaches, as well as traditional experimental techniques and physiological measures.