Mark Faust - Cognitive Neuroscience & Control Processes

The focus of the lab is the cognitive neuroscience and cognitive psychology of cognitive control processes that modulate the more specific processes employed in performing cognitive tasks.  For example, cognitive control processes might work to make the perceptual and linguistic processes involved in reading a word more efficient, or they might work to perform a mental reconfiguration of goals and strategies during a switch from one mental task to another.  The lab has a 64 channel EEG (electroencephalograpy) system for recording electrical brain activitiy during performance of a cognitive task from scalp electrodes (i.e., outside the head).  The lab also has cognitive testing stations for measuring response times during performance of cognitive tasks.



Associate Professor/Director of Cognitive Science

One line of research in the lab involves comparing cognitive control over distractor information from the external world (e.g., words presented on a computer monitor) with control over distractor information being held in working memory (e.g., ignore a word being held in memory while performing another cognitive task).  We are working on comparing forward-looking (proactive) and backward-looking (reactive) aspects of cognitive control with behavioral (e.g., reaction time) and neural (e.g., electrical brain responses, EEG) measures of the influence of ingored information during performance of a cognitive task.

Students in the lab typically work on lab projects, but also are free to work on their own projects.  Students have worked on projects that examine EEG markers associated with computer game play, and with a decision to halt memory retrieval initiated by environmental cues (e.g., retrieval of a negative memory triggered by a current event in the environment).  Recent student work has also used EEG techniques to measure activity of brain networks associated with a focused cognitive task and with mind-wandering in expert meditators and people who have never meditated.