Research

METHODs

We study people from the ages of 18 to 100+. Importantly, some age-related changes to decision behavior are the result of biological processes, others stem from psychological and social processes — but many can be attributed to an interaction of these factors. To understand these complex mechanisms, we utilize an array of methods including cognitive tasks, manipulations of emotion and task difficulty, biomarker sampling, computational modeling, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We are currently conducting behavioral studies at UCF and fMRI studies at the University of Florida McKnight Brain Institute.

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Topics

Behavioral and neural response to challenge during decision making

Decision making may be difficult for any number of reasons. Perhaps you’ve just had a stressful experience… or you’re having trouble remembering the critical information you need to make your choice… or perhaps you have many choices in front of you, but no clear winner. What happens to our decision process when we cannot easily determine the best course of action? Studies in the ADD Lab seek to understand how the brain responds to challenging decision scenarios. We are particularly interested in how decision quality can be maintained or improve in aging, despite declines in memory and executive function. We seek to determine the brain regions and strategies that can help people make good decisions in the face of challenge.

How memory affects decision performance

Many of our decisions are influenced by memory. Often times the details of these memories are lost, but we none the less have a sense of what we should do (nondeclarative memory). Other times, decision making involves retrieving specific details from past events (declarative memory). Thus, decision making can involve different forms of memory — which are thought to be supported by different brain regions. The ADD Lab is interested in how these two types of memory contribute to decision making and how age-related changes to specific memory regions affect decision quality. Current studies examine memory-dependent decision processing in consumer choice, risk taking and value learning. We are also interested in determining how stress and emotion affect what we remember about our choice options.