Department of Psychology
The University of Oklahoma
Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology
Faculty members in the cognitive program conduct basic and applied research in their investigations of mental processes, including perception, attention, memory, and decision-making. Graduate students have the opportunity to receive training in basic research techniques, such as designing and conducting experiments, and developing computer models of cognitive processes. Opportunities to conduct applied research make our students attractive to non-academic employers as well, and provide them with a unique perspective that enriches their basic research. Students in the cognitive area have been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Institutes of Mental Health, National Institute on Aging, and the National Institute of Health.
Faculty in the cognitive area are interested in such questions as:
- How do control processes bridge perception, action, and cognition?
- What factors influence eyewitness memory and the creation of false memories?
- What are the changes in cognitive processes that result from aging?
- What is the role of memory processes in judgment and decision-making?
- How do memory processes interact to enhance cognitive performance?
- How do children transfer, or generalize, what they’ve learned from one context to the next?
- What are the effects of brain iron deficiency and repletion on perception, memory, and cognition?
- How can we use behavioral and neurophysiological evidence to evaluate hypotheses of multiple, simultaneously-available levels of coding in visual perceptual learning?
- Can we develop computational, biophysically-constrained models of the networks that support visual perceptual learning?
- How is learning and remembering supported by changes in brain states?
Graduate students and faculty conduct research in the OU Cognitive Lab (OUCOG), a suite of adjoining laboratories that exhibits a lively and interactive research environment. Faculty members’ labs each consist of a work room and two to three data collection rooms, and the OUCOG lab suite also has a conference room and break room. In addition to dozens of computers throughout the lab, there are two eyetrackers and touchscreen interfaces. Faculty also work in the OU Visual Neuroscience Lab. Research is also supported by the Visual Neuroscience and Computational Imaging laboratories on the University’s research campus (just south of main campus). This lab is equipped with both low- and high-density EEG systems and computer software for analyzing and modeling EEG data.
Coursework: The requirements for the Ph.D. are those established by the Department of Psychology. All students are assigned a faculty advisor upon being admitted. The individual student, in consultation with a faculty committee, designs a course of study that matches the student’s interests and career aspirations. We follow an apprenticeship model of training, treating graduate students like junior colleagues.
How to Apply
To apply, simply complete the enclosed departmental application or visit our web at:
Core Cognitive Faculty
Scott D. Gronlund, Roger and Sherry Teigen Presidential Professor
Ph.D., 1986, Indiana University
Director of the OU Memory Lab (OUML)
My students and I apply basic memory findings and theories to solve real-world problems. This has included work on situation awareness and prospective memory. My current focus involves eyewitness identification, especially the role of the lineup. My approach includes the application of quantitatively-specified models, a unique perspective in the eyewitness domain. For more information check out http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/G/Scott.D.Gronlund-1/
Sowon Hahn, Associate Professor of Psychology
Ph.D., 1997, University of Illinois
Director of the Attention and Cognitive Control Lab
My students and I study the factors that influence human cognitive control. Our research topics consist of attention, working memory, and action. Our recent research focuses on 1) the role of action that interacts with central cognition, 2) the relationship between emotion and attention, 3) working memory influences on visual perception and judgment, and 4) age-related cognitive modulation. Our main research method is human experimentation including reaction time analyses, and eye movement/manual reaching measurements.
Daniel Kimball , J. R. Morris Associate Professor
Ph.D., 2000, UCLA; J.D., 1983, University of Virginia
I study various aspects of human memory, including false memories (remembering events that did not actually happen), forgetting, memory enhancement, and metamemory (knowledge about our own memory). In addition to studying these aspects separately, I am particularly interested in studying the ways in which they interact, such as how forgetting affects both accurate and false memories. My research also extends to real-world situations, such as education and eyewitness memory. In studying these topics, I conduct experiments with human participants and I also build and test computer models of memory.
Rick Thomas, Associate Professor of Psychology
Ph.D., 2004, Kansas State University
I combine empirical methods (e.g., eye tracking), computer simulation, and mathematical modeling to understand the role of hypothesis generation on probability judgments, hypothesis testing, and information search. I also do work concerning skilled performance, primarily in the areas of expertise, performance evaluation, and decision support.
Michael Wenger, Professor of Psychology
Ph.D., 1994, Binghamton University
Director of the OU Visual Neuroscience Laboratory
Dr. Wenger’s research is currently focused on questions in perceptual organization and perceptual learning, including interactions of immediately-available (perpetual) information and retained (memory) information. Dr. Wenger is also working on measuring and modeling the effects of dietary iron depletion and repletion on perception and memory. Work in Dr. Wenger’s lab emphasizes the combined application of behavioral and electroencephalographic (EEG) methods, using the methods of computational neuroscience to link these variables.
Affiliated Cognitive Faculty Members
Lynn Devenport, Professor
Ph.D., 1971, University of Chicago
My students and I conduct field and laboratory experiments in animal cognition, focusing on how animals use information to solve environmental problems, especially problems related to foraging. Our main study sites are in alpine and subalpine meadows in the central Colorado Rockies where we study behavioral adaptations of golden-mantled ground squirrels and least chipmunks. We also model cognitive solutions to resource uncertainty in a state of the art behavioral laboratory using a breeding population of wild-caught chipmunks that are house uncaged, and tested in open naturalistic environments. The current emphasis is on adaptations to variable environments, such as how animals estimate the value of unknown patches, the value of known patches that vary over time, and how they place and recover caches. Spatial mapping, timing, averaging, categorization and equivalence are some of the cognitive processes under study.
Robert Hamm, Professor, Dept. of Family and Preventive Medicine, OU Health Sciences Center
Ph.D., 1979, Harvard University
Director, Clinical Decision Making Program
Dr. Hamm’s research in the psychology of medical decision making studies physicians and patients as they use the concepts relevant to optimal decision making: the probabilities of events, the utilities of outcomes, and the evaluation of options. The research with physicians deals with their understanding of probability, their ability to use information about test accuracy in making diagnoses, and their use of information about treatment efficacy in deciding whether to treat a patient. Current work addresses medical students’ learning of diagnostic categories. The research with patients looks at their ability to understand information about the risks and benefits of tests or treatments. He is collaborating with Rick Thomas in research on medical diagnosis. www.fammed.ouhsc.edu\robhamm\index.htm
Marlys Lipe, Rath Chair in Accounting, Professor of Accounting
Ph.D., 1985, University of Chicago
Professor Lipe's primary research interests lie in the area of judgment and decision making. Her work has been published in both accounting and psychology journals, including the Journal of Accounting Research, The Accounting Review, Psychological Bulletin and Journal of Behavioral Decision Making. Professor Lipe's teaching experience includes undergraduate and master's level courses in managerial, cost and financial accounting and doctoral seminars in decision making. Professor Lipe is a member of the American Accounting Association, Institute of Management Accountants and Society for Judgment and Decision Making. She is an editor for the Accounting Review and serves on the editorial board of Accounting Horizons.
Clarissa Thompson, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Ph.D., 2008, The Ohio State University
Director of the Cognitive Development Lab
Research in the Cognitive Development Lab investigates the ways children learn, develop strategies to solve problems, generalize knowledge to novel contexts, and remember information. Children’s learning is tracked on a trial-by-trial basis using the microgenetic method. The microgenetic method highlights how learning occurs in preschoolers, elementary through high school students, and college-aged adults. Current projects in the Cognitive Development Lab focus on shifts in children’s numerical representations with increasing age and experience, circumstances under which transfer of numerical knowledge is facilitated or inhibited, children’s use of “buggy” estimation strategies, how children draw analogies between numerical contexts to help them solve problems, the costs and benefits of representational change, and the impact that numerical representations have on the types of numbers children are able to remember. Research in the Cognitive Development Lab can inform classroom interventions and best practices in teaching children about numbers.