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Faculty and Research

Faculty Member

Michael Wenger

Michael J. Wenger

Professor, Psychology 2 Partners Place Suite 100 405-325-3846 Ph.D., Experimental Psychology - State University of New York at Binghamton, 1994


Our work emphasizes the combined application of behavioral and electroencephalographic (EEG) methods, using the methods of computational neuroscience to link these variables.There are currently four major areas of emphasis in our lab:

1. Effects of brain iron deficiency and repletion on perception, memory, and cognition: In this line of work we are documenting (using a combination of behavioral, EEG, and MRI measures) the extent to which iron deficiency produce measurable, and correctable, changes in basic perceptual, mnemonic, and cognitive abilities. In addition, we are testing hypotheses regarding the effect of iron depletion and repletion on specific cortical and sub-cortical circuits that support learning, memory, and the interaction of attention with memory.

2. Behavioral regularities and neural mechanisms of perceptual learning: This work is pursuing two broad goals. The first is to provide simultaneous behavioral and neurophysiological evidence capable of supporting or refuting hypotheses of multiple, simultaneously-available levels of coding in visual perceptual learning. The second is to develop computational, biophysically-constrained models of the networks that support the learning and expression of visual perceptual learning.

3. Theoretical and empirical characterizations of perceptual organization (configurality): Our lab, in partnership with Jim Townsend's lab at Indiana University, is pursuing a linked theoretical and empirical program aimed at developing and testing general, theoretically-grounded definitions of configurality, with a particular interest in facial perception and memory.

We also have a line of work with collaborators at the OU Health Sciences Center. Our collaborators include Dr. Lauren Ethridge, Dr. Doris Benbrook, Dr. Dee Wu, and Dr. Darla Kendzor, and our efforts include the effects of iron levels at menopause on the risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders, the effects of variations in iron status on the integrity of dopaminergic signaling in women of reproductive age, and the added burden of iron deficiency in women recovering from nicotine addiction.

Selected Publications:

Townsend, J. T., Liu, Y., Zhang, R., and Wenger, M. J. (2020) No Virginia, violation of Miller’s race inequality does not imply coactivation: How parallel channels can help or hurt one another. The Quantitative Methods for Psychology, in press.

Centanni, T. M., Halpern, A. R., Seisler, A. R., and Wenger, M. J. (2020) Context-dependent neural responses to minor notes in frontal and temporal regions distinguish musicians from non-musicians. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience,

Wenger, M. J. and Rhoten, S. E. (2019) Perceptual learning produces perceptual objects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, doi: 10.1037/xlm0000735.

Scott, S. P., Murray-Kolb, L. E., Wenger, M. J., Udipi, S. A., Ghughre, P. S., Boy, E., and Haas, J. D. (2018) Cognitive performance in Indian school-going adolescents is positively affected by consumption of iron-biofortified pearl millet: A 6-month randomized controlled efficacy trial. Journal of Nutrition. doi:

Von Der Heide, R. J., Wenger, M. J., Bittner, J. L., and Fitousi, D. (2018) Converging operations and the role of perceptual and decisional influences on the perception of faces: Neural and behavioral evidence. Brain and Cognition 122: 59–75.

Wenger, M. J., DellaValle, D. M., Murray-Kolb, L. E., and Haas, J. D. (2017) Effect of iron deficiency on simultaneous measures of behavior, brain activity, and energy expenditure in the performance of a cognitive task. Nutritional Neuroscience. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2017.1360559.

Wenger, M. J., Murray-Kolb, L. E., Nevins, J. E. H., Venkatramanan, S., Reinhart, G. A., and Haas, J. D. (2017) Consumption of a double-fortified salt improves perceptual, attentional, and mnemonic functioning in women in India. Journal of Nutrition. doi: 10.3945/jn.117.251587.

Murray-Kolb, L. E., Wenger, M. J., Scott, S. P., Lung'aho, M. G., and Haas, J. D. (2017) Consumption of iron-biofortified beans positively affects cognitive performance in 18-27 year old Rwandan female college students, findings from an 18-week randomized controlled efficacy trial. Journal of Nutrition. doi: 10.3945/jn.117.255356.

Mestry, N., Menneer, T., Wenger, M. J., Benikos, N. P., and McCarthy, R. (2014) The role of configurality in the Thatcher illusion: An ERP study. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 22(2): 445-452.

Wenger, M. J., Negash, S., Petersen, R. C., and Petersen, L. (2010). Modeling and estimating recall processing capacity: Sensitivity and diagnostic utility in application to mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Mathematical Psychology 54: 73-89.