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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. Ann Csiszar, 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, the added burden of iron deficiency in women recovering from nicotine addiction, and the potentially-mediating role of iron deficiency anemia in cancer therapy related cognitive impairment ("chemo brain").

Selected Publications:

Wenger, M. J., Murray-Kolb, L. E., Scott, S. P., Boy, E., and Haas, J. D. (2022) Modeling relationships between iron status, behavior, and brain electrophysiology: Evidence from a randomized study involving a biofortified grain in Indian adolescents. BMC Public Health 22: 1299.

Wenger, M. J. Townsend, J. T., De Stefano, L. A., and Lu , Y. (2021) Effects of shifts in response preferences on characteristics of representation and real-time processing: An application to the Hering illusion. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 84:101-123.

Ashby, F. G. and Wenger, M. J. (2021). Statistical decision theory. In F. G. Ashby, H. Colonius, & E. Dzhafarov (Eds.), New Handbook of Mathematical Psychology, Volume 3: Perceptual and Cognitive Processes. Cambridge University Press.

Wenger, M. J., DellaValle, D. M., Todd, L. E., Barnett, A. L., and Haas, J. D. (2021) Limited shared variance among measures of cognitive performance used in nutrition research: The Need to prioritize construct validity and biological mechanisms in choice of measures. Current Developments in Nutrition 5: nzab070.

Townsend, J. T. and Wenger, M. J. (2021) A beginning quantitative taxonomy of cognitive activation systems and application to continuous flow processes. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics 83: 748-762.

Townsend, J. T., Liu, Y., Zhang, R., and Wenger, M. J. (2020) Interactive parallel models: No Virginia, violation of Miller’s race inequality does not imply coactivation and Yes Virginia, context invariance is testable. The Quantitative Methods for Psychology 16: 192-212.

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.

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.