Cognitive Sciences Labs

Brain Electrophysiology of Language and Literacy Systems (BELLS) (Faculty Investigator:  Gwen Frishkoff)

Our lab studies the neural bases of reading and language. We use "brainwave" technologies (EEG and ERP) to study how the brain responds during various cognitive and linguistic manipulations, such as comprehending language that is familiar (e.g., well-known words) versus language that is new or recently learned (e.g., very rare words or new grammatical constructions). Anatomical source modeling is used to estimate the locations of brainwave generators, in order to create spatiotemporal models of neural activity. Our studies include children (ages 8–14), as well younger and older adults.

Brain, Language and Evolution (BLE) Laboratory (Faculty Investigator: Bill Hopkins)

Research in the BLE lab focuses on comparative investigations of socio-communicative processes in nonhuman primates, notably chimpanzees and other great apes as a means of understanding the evolution of language and speech in modern humans. The behavioral research emphasis is on a) the cognitive foundations underlying gestural and vocal communication and b) motor functions in relation to hand use, hand skill, tool use and vocal communication. Our laboratory also has a large collection of magnetic resonance images (MRI) in nonhuman primates and we use these scans to quantify different regions of interest that can be correlated with individual differences in cognitive and motor functions as well as compared between different species. Finally, a central focus of both our behavioral and brain imaging research is on the role that genes and early social learning experiences have on their development and expressions. Student research opportunities include behavioral testing of nonhuman primates and collection of brain measurements from in vivo MRI scans. Our research is primarily conducted at the Language Research Center of Georgia State University and the Yerkes National Primate Research center of Emory University but we also work with apes species residing in several zoos. Our laboratory is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Institutes of Mental Health.

Interested parties should contact Dr. William Hopkins ( for further details.

CGS/VR : Cognitive Sciences Virtual Reality Lab (Faculty contact: David Washburn)

A new virtual reality laboratory is available for studies of cognitive processes and social behavior. Wearable displays immerse participants in virtual environments where they may interact with avatars, navigate through space, or respond to simulated threats. The hardware provides automatic tracking of body position and movements in real space. A shared resource among SCG faculty researchers, this laboratory provides unique opportunities for studies in the intersection of cognitive and social psychology (e.g., how memory or shoot/don't-shoot decision making is affected by the appearance of simulated persons in the virtual world). Contact Dr. David Washburn for more information.

Comparative Economics and Behavioral Studies Lab (Faculty Investigator: Sarah Brosnan)

This laboratory supports research on economic decision making and social cognition with primates at multiple sites (on the GSU main campus, at the Language Research Center, at MD Anderson Medical Center in Bastrop, TX, and other research facilities). Contact director Dr. Sarah Brosnan for more information.

Individual Differences in Executive Attention (IDEA) Laboratory (Faculty Investigator: David A. Washburn)

Researchers in the IDEA laboratory investigate attention and executive function and the ways in which these processes interact in the working memory system to influence higher-order cognitive abilities like learning and decision-making. Thus, we examine individual and group differences in the skills of attention, planning, and uncertainty monitoring to identify the relation between these mental abilities and the types of training that might improve them. Cross-species research is also ongoing to explore the emergence of executive attention in nonhuman primates. The IDEA laboratory is fully equipped with computers for automated testing of participants, eye-trackers/ pupillometers, psychophysiological instruments, and computer-interfaced response boxes for recording vocal and motor response latencies. Transcranial Doppler sonography apparatus is also available for relating behavior to brain using measures of cerebral blood flow using this noninvasive imaging technology. Student research opportunities include computerized testing of human and nonhuman primate participants in attention and decision-making experiments. This research may be supported by grants or contracts from the National Institutes of Health, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Georgia State University, and other foundations or agencies.

Human factors research internships at AT&T Telecommunications are also available to select graduate students. For more information on this or other research opportunities please contact Dr. David Washburn.

Memory and Eyewitness Accuracy Lab (Faculty Investigator: Heather Kleider)

The primary focus of the research in this lab is investigations of episodic memory, with an emphasis on face recognition and eyewitness accuracy. We investigate the conditions and circumstances under which people make memory errors, with special interest in the heuristics and biases, such as stereotypes, that people employ when recollection is difficult. We use two complementary approaches in our research: First, we conduct traditional laboratory studies, examining memory for faces, words, and other stimuli. The majority of these studies are presented on the computer in a controlled environment. Second, we conduct studies with an applied interest, using live scenes to assess systematic perceptual biases and recollection errors and we look at the effects individual differences such as Working Memory Span have on memory for events. Together, our work in this lab incorporates both direct investigations of memory function and scientific applications of memory error as it relates to the judicial process. Interested parties should contact the lab director Dr. Heather Kleider for more information.

PSCEB Laboratory Suite

To support research in the area of primate social cognition, evolution and behavior (PSCEB), the College of Arts and Sciences has made a suite of laboratory rooms available in Kell Hall to researchers from the Department of Psychology, the Neuroscience Institute, and the Department of Anthropology. These laboratory areas allow faculty and students associated with the 2CI in PSCEB to work on campus in proximity to one another. Currently, this suite includes the Brain, Language, & Evolution Lab (BLE; Dr. Bill Hopkins), the Comparative Economics and Behavioral Studies Lab (CEBUS; Dr. Sarah Brosnan), and the Individual Differences in Executive Attention lab (IDEA; Dr. David Washburn). New faculty and students recruited through the 2CI in PSCEB will also be accommodated in this laboratory suite.

Sonny Carter Life Sciences Laboratory (Faculty Investigator: David A. Washburn)

Scientists at the Sonny Carter Life Sciences Laboratory of the Language Research Center study the behavior and performance of humans and nonhuman animals (principally rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees). This research is designed to elucidate cognitive processes such as attention, learning, memory, and executive function as these constructs are manifest across species. Experiments are designed to reveal how these mental abilities develop, how they correspond to brain mechanisms, how they relate to one another, and how they are affected by cognitive (e.g., perceived control), affective/motivational (e.g., emotion), social (e.g., competition), and environmental (e.g., microgravity) variables. Moreover, research at the SCLSL is designed to examine how psychological well-being can be measured and maintained.

The SCLSL is a component laboratory of Biobehavioral Foundations and Development of Cognitive Competence, a multi-investigator, multi-institutional program-project supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD060563).

The SCLSL offers opportunities for biobehavioral collaborative research with investigators from institutions around the world. Graduate and undergraduate students can be involved in every phase of the research. For additional information, please contact Dr. David A. Washburn.