Professor, Department of Cognitive Science; Director of Undergraduate Studies
My research focuses primarily on cognitive deficits in children and adults with brain damage or learning disabilities, including deficits in visual perception, reading, spelling, and memory. The goals are to gain insight into normal mental representations and processes and how these are instantiated in the brain, as well as to advance our understanding of cognitive deficits and how they may be treated. For example, my colleagues and I have uncovered a new form of reading impairment, in which visual awareness for letters and digits is selectively disrupted. In this deficit visual perception is normal except that the individual sees letters and/or digits only as blurs or jumbles of lines. We have identified two cases: RFS, a 61-year-old man with a progressive neurological disease, and MTS, a 12-year-old girl who suffered a stroke at age 10. In studying these individuals we are using behavioral, electrophysiological, and functional neuroimaging methods to address questions concerning the cognitive and neural representations underlying visual awareness and reading. We are also exploring, with considerable success, remediations for the reading impairments.
In addition to cognitive neuropsychological research, I explore visual-spatial cognition and lexical processing through empirical studies of normal individuals, computational modeling, and functional neuroimaging.
Finally, I am interested in foundational issues in cognitive science, including the rationale for adopting a representational/computational conception of the mind, the relationship between cognitive science and neuroscience, the fundamental distinctions between connectionist and symbolic frameworks, and the role of simulation in cognitive science (e.g., McCloskey, 1991).