Welcome to the Working Memory and Plasticity Lab!

Working memory is an essential system that underlies the performance of virtually all complex cognitive activities. People differ in terms of how much information they can hold in working memory, and also, how easily they can hold that information in the face of distraction. These individual differences are related to the fact that the functioning of the working memory system is highly predictive of scholastic achievement and educational success, and in general, working memory capacity is crucial for our general ability to acquire knowledge and learn new skills. Given the relevance of working memory to daily life and educational settings, the mission of our lab lies in the development of working memory interventions with the aim that that participants not only improve their working memory skills, but also general skills that go beyond the trained domain. By means of behavioral and neuroimaging methods, we seek to understand the underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms that drive training-related changes.

Read about our latest work in the Scientific American and participate in our citizen science project!

Besides research on training and transfer, our lab also investigates individual differences in working memory capacity and executive control, as well as the nature of limitations in these domains. We aim to understand the behavioral as well as the neural consequences when performance is at capacity limits, and also, when capacity limits are exceeded.

The research conducted by the WMP lab members has been funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the NIH National Institute on Aging, the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the Swiss National Science Foundation, and featured in the New York Times, PBS, the Discover Magazine, Scientific American, LA Times, BBC, The Times (UK), and many other media outlets.

Ongoing funded projects:

EF+Math Program (NewSchools Venture Fund) – Developing low-cost mobile app technology to assess ability and fluctuations in executive functions and math learning.
Collaborative project with Anja Pahor, University of California, Irvine, Aaron Seitz, University of California, Riverside, Dennis Barbour, Washington University, St. Louis, Geetha Ramani & Imani Goffney, University of Maryland, College Park.

R56AG063952 (NIH/NIA) – Examining the Potential for Placebo Effects in Cognitive Training
This project examines the extent to which cognitive training is susceptible to placebo effects and whether such effects can be magnified/harnessed.
Collaborative project with C. Shawn Green, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Aaron Seitz, University of California, Riverside

1K02AG054665 (NIH/NIA) – Cognitive Training and Brain Plasticity – Towards an Understanding of Mediators and Moderators
The purpose of the NIH Independent Scientist Award (K02) is “to foster the development of outstanding scientists and enable them to expand their potential to make significant contributions to their field of research”. The proposed research is related to the NIH/NIA work outlined below.

1R01AG049006 (NIH/NIA) – Working Memory Training in Older Adults
The goal of this project is to investigate the efficacy of working memory training in older adults, and to get at individual differences and neural correlates of training.
Collaborative Project with John Jonides, Patricia Reuter-Lorenz & Priti Shah, University of Michigan

1R01MH111742 (NIH/MH) – Understanding Mediating and Moderating Factors that Determine Transfer of Working Memory Training
The goal of this project is to uncover individual differences and features that determine the efficacy of working memory training.
Collaborative Project with Aaron Seitz, University of California, Riverside

Download a poster summarizing some of the training work we have been conducting in the WMP lab here.

For a quick overview, check out this Wordle, which is based on our published abstracts.

 wordle WMP Lab 2015