Sensory processing is ubiquitous in our interactions with the environment, is performed with extreme efficiency, and forms the basis for many of our routine daily decisions. A pervasive idea in cognitive science is that perceptual decisions (such as object categorization) are the result of a comparison of sensory evidence that is accumulated over time. Findings from both neurophysiology and neuroimaging now suggest that the brain solves the problem of perceptual decision-making using an accumulator architecture that is conceptually similar to these models. Using the accumulator model as a framework, the PANLab seeks to understand how the brain processes sensory evidence, how that sensory evidence interacts with previous experiences, how that interaction contributes to decision making, and how those decisions lead to environmentally-appropriate actions. The research program emphasizes the understanding of fudamental cognitive operations, which can then be applied to populations with atypical or impaired cognitive function. Research involves a combination of experimental techniques, including functional MRI, psychophysics, TMS, and EEG.

PANLab Research Programs

  • Neural Substrates of Multisensory Object Processing
  • Neural Substrates of Event Perception
  • Neural Substrates of Appetitive Decision Making
  • Accumulation Models of Object Processing

Current Projects

Spatial and temporal integration mechanisms in face and object recognition

Perceptual learning of audio-visual speech signals

The influence of alcohol dependence on the neural substrates of perceptual decision making

Shape-selective processes for multisensory object recognition

Using additive factors and inverse effectiveness to study inter- and intra-sensory integration with BOLD fMRI

 Metacognitive influences on multisensory integration


PANLab Collaborations

The influence of hormones on neural substrates recruited during risky decision making

with Julia Heiman, Erick Janssen
Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction

Dale Sengelaub, Peter Finn, and
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Ellen Ketterson
ment of Biology

Specific projects:


Neural mechanisms of motivation and emotion involved with watching public service announcements

with Annie Lang and Robert Potter
Institute for Communication Research, Department of Telecommunication


Constraining cognitive models of category decision-making with brain imaging data

Robert Nosofsky, Daniel Little, and
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Todd Gureckis
Department of Psychology, New York Univeristy

Specific projects:



Statements from former PANLab members

Jerry S. Fisher (undergraduate RA)

Psychology by definition is "the science that deals with mental processes and behavior" (American Heritage Dictionary). As a cognitive neuroimaging lab, we hope to contribute to this discipline through a greater understanding of the neural substrates that support our mind and mental processes. The human brain is perhaps one of the most fascinating all of evolution's orchestrations. Through its complex bundles of neurons, fibers, and structures, rests the mysterious underpinnings for all of our thoughts, emotions, and memories. It would be no great stretch to say the brain is the house of our selves. And yet for all this, we know so little about it. What is the true relationship between our minds and the world around us? In what ways do we come to know and recognize the outside world? How is this knowledge shaped and integrated by our biological framework? How is it preserved? Endless questions exist and as of now we have breached only the top tip of the ice burg. Our motivation in this lab is to scratch the surface a little further. With the advent of noninvasive functional magnetic resonance imaging, this unseen realm of the human brain in action can be explored a little further. It is a fascinating venture, and we are proud to be a part of it.

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