One of the ways in which we are able to maintain goal-directed behavior is by ignoring or suppressing competing goal-irrelevant information in the environment and in memory. We are interested in investigating the cognitive control mechanism that prevents intrusions of memories from past events from interfering with task performance, which is known as resistance to proactive interference. Using a directed forgetting task, we are able to evaluate the ability to forget previously relevant but no longer relevant information. We are currently asking questions to assess the specific mechanism that underlies resistance from proactive interference - is irrelevant information inhibited in favor of relevant information? Is relevant information up-regulated in activation to dominate irrelevant information? Is a combination of these mechanisms at work?
Our lab investigates basic cognitive control processes, model systems in which these processes are altered or impaired, and real-world consequences of such impairment. For example, one line of research focuses on the ability to delay gratification in childhood, how this ability develops across the lifespan, and outcomes associated with failure to delay gratification. We are also interested in how people think about food, and whether food-related thoughts can interfere with normal cognitive processing and weight management. We have also studied changes in cognitive control that accompany Major Depressive Disorder and ADHD.