I explore links between the brain, personality, and behavior—especially as these are implicated in our attempts at self-control and multitasking.
NEUROSCIENCE OF REWARD AND self-control
Since that fateful day in the garden, human beings have struggled to negotiate between fleeting, short-term pleasures and the broader, lasting consequences of our decisions. For most of human history, self-control has primarily been a topic for philosophical inquiry and discussion. Recently, with the emergence of experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience, scientists have begun to delineate brain-behavior relationships underlying successful (and un-successful) control of our thoughts, desires, and behaviors. My research focuses on individual differences in how people respond to rewarding stimuli, such as appetizing foods, how they exert control over these responses, and the extent to which these processes are predictive of real world behaviors.
media multitasking and self-control failure
In our 21st-century world, we are bombarded with stimuli our species has never faced before—in quantity and kind. Father of American psychology William James famously characterized a baby's subjective experience of the world as a "great blooming, buzzing confusion," but that description may now better apply to our immersion in digital media and portable devices. Content across devices often competes for our attention (a limited resource to begin with), and as a result we attempt to multitask by monitoring and switching between many forms of media. In this line of work, I'm developing a psychometric assessment of media multitasking, and testing whether it is associated with patterns of overeating and alters the balance between self-regulatory processes and responses to rewarding cues.