Research

dataOur lab explores a wide range of topics from a cognitive neuroscience perspective, including sensory and perceptual processing, multi-sensory interactions, speech perception, language production and comprehension, selective attention, and consciousness. Our primary technique is electro-encephalography (EEG), from which we derive event-related potentials (ERPs) and oscillatory dynamics in time-frequency space. We also employ complementary approaches including psychophysics, behavioral research, eye-tracking, and neuropsychological assessments.

The EEG technique allows us to measure electrical signals from populations of neurons in real-time, non-invasively, in the animal species that is of most interest to psychologists and neuroscientists… us! ERPs and EEG oscillations can be used as tools to address general questions in the field of psychology and when combined with other techniques, such as MEG, fMRI, TMS, and single-cell recordings, can provide converging evidence to further our understanding of how the brain enables perception, thought, and action.

A recent article describes one of the current projects in the SCALP Lab: Brain Wave - by Chris Lydgate '90

Faculty

Michael Pitts

Michael Pitts [mpitts@reed.edu]

The general question that motivates my research is, “what is the neural basis of consciousness?” To address this question, I have adopted an approach taken by others in the field in which we simplify the problem as much as possible by looking first for neural correlates of conscious perception. The question then becomes, “what neural processes are necessary and sufficient for a specific conscious percept?”, e.g. seeing the color red or hearing a particular piano note. The primary strategy I use is to compare brain activity elicited by the same physical stimulus when it is perceived versus not-perceived, or perceived as X versus Y. A current challenge is to develop experimental paradigms in which these contrasts can distinguish neural correlates of conscious perception from pre-conscious and post-perceptual activity. Thus, my research also involves the study of low-level sensory processing, as well as higher-level functions such as attention, expectation, memory, and response selection.

 

Enriqueta Canseco-Gonzalez

Enriqueta Canseco-Gonzalez [ecanseco@reed.edu]

My research focuses on language processing and its interaction with cognition in both monolingual and bilingual speakers. Within this general area, I am currently focusing on four specific lines of research; First, I am investigating whether language-specific features influence non-linguistic categories (i.e. the Whorfian hypothesis). Second, in a study of mental chronometry of word reading in bilinguals, I am investigating the timeline of access to various levels of linguistic information (e.g. phonology, semantic, etc.). Third, I am examining when and where our brain distinguishes between speech and non-speech sounds. Finally, I have recently begun exploring the neural basis of cross-modal plasticity using a sensory substitution paradigm. In all of these projects I take advantage of the high temporal resolution of the ERP technique and in some cases combine these measures with eye-tracking, neuropsychological assessments, and/or behavioral data.

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