I'm a newly-reminted Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at New Mexico State University, having spent 8 years at Louisiana State University (why get tenure once when you can -- hopefully -- do it twice?).


My lab investigates human cognitive processes, including the dynamics of episodic memory creation and retrieval (and how those memories influence visual attention), unfamiliar face perception/recognition, and the influence of contextual statistics and LC-NE system activity on attention and perception. We approach these topics using convergent techniques; we use classic behavioral paradigms, but also more modern tools, including eye-tracking, mouse-tracking, pupillometry, and single-unit recording. Our overarching goal is to develop a richer theoretical and applied understanding of the processes by which episodic memory influences real-time cognitive processes. 


Please note: This website is (perpetually) under construction.

NMSU GRFP Workshop
Sep - Oct, 2020



Virtual Psychonomics
November, 2020


See the Cool New Stuff page for not-yet-published items!

Recently published at Memory & Cognition, Juan Guevara Pinto, Michael Hout, and I examined what observers remember about the distracting objects encountered during easier and more challenging visual search tasks. Although prior research has shown improved incidental memory for objects encountered during difficult search (e.g., Guevara Pinto & Papesh, 2019), this research explored the fidelity of those memories. After completing standard and rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) search, observers completed a surprise memory test in which they had to select the previously-seen item among 3 or 15 within-category foils.  Across experiments, we found that incidental memories were better following challenging search. Even when observers selected the wrong image at test, they nevertheless chose the foil with the highest similarity relationship to the previously-seen object (see left).

Recently in press at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we (Urgolites et al.) examined single-cell neural activity during a continuous recognition memory (CRM) test. In CRM, observers continually switch between encoding and retrieval: Items are presented one at a time, and are classified as "new" upon their first presentation and "old" upon later repetition.  Instead of just looking at spiking activity during the response phase, we examined neural responses before items were presented. Although this interest period is often used for baseline corrections, we found that it is psychologically meaningful: Pre-stimulus activity predicted encoding success (i.e., whether or not people would later remember that word), and this was strongest in the hippocampus (see right) than in other recorded structures. We interpret these results as reflecting "attention to encoding." Just as there may be a "retrieval mode," we suggest that there is an encoding mode: Hippocampal spiking activity increases when the brain is ready to encode something into long-term memory.

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