MEGAN H. PAPESH
I'm currently Associate Professor in the Cognitive & Brain Sciences area of the Department of Psychology at Louisiana State University. In Fall 2020, however, I will be joining the Psychology faculty at New Mexico State University!
Regardless of where it is located, 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.
Psychonomics in Montreal
SOME RECENT (ACCEPTED/PUBLISHED) RESEARCH
See the Cool New Stuff page for not-yet-published items!
Recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, Juan Guevara Pinto and I examined observers' attention allocation strategies as they monitored rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) displays of objects, searching for one or more targets. In a subset of trials, however, a peripheral shape appeared at varying eccentricities off-center, allowing us to assess how diffuse (or narrow) participants' attention was during search. Across experiments, we manipulated search difficulty by changing the pre-trial cues that participants were given (e.g., a picture of a dog, the word dog, or the word animal; see left). We replicated Hout and Goldinger (2010), finding that participants had better memory for nontarget RSVP items encountered during challenging visual search. Moreover, we also found that participants were less able to detect and identify sudden onset peripheral items when searching under difficult conditions, suggesting that observers narrow their attention when search becomes difficult.
Recently in press at Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, we (Papesh & Guevara Pinto) examined the low-prevalence effect (LPE) through a slightly different lens. Although many studies have found that rare, relative to frequent, targets are found less often in visual search, we explored the consequences of successful rare target detection. Using an attentional blink paradigm, we manipulated how often observers encountered a first target, and measured their ability to detect a second target presented up to 7 items later. In addition to being harder to spot, we found that rare targets induced a greater attentional blink: Second targets were less often detected following detection of a rare first target. Moreover, we used pupillometry to gauge the activation of the LC-NE system, and found that rare targets consume more attentional resources. This resource consumption perfectly follows the LC-NE hypothesis of the attentional blink (Nieuwenhuis et al., 2005), which proposes that the LC is more engaged when more meaningful or demanding stimuli are detected. This is followed by a refractory period, in which LC neurons are relatively quiet. As shown to the right, we observed this refractory period in Bayesian time series analyses conducted in CHAP (which we highly recommend!). You can check out the paper here.