How do our non-conscious learning experiences shape our more explicit knowledge and beliefs? What are the neurocognitive bases of creativity, and can we augment then to make people more creative? What is the nature of aesthetic experience? Which season of Mad Men is the most excellent of them all?
These are the kinds of questions that keep me up late in thought and greet me in the morning. All but one of them (for now) are the subject of my research.
My research uses methods from psychology & cognitive neuroscience and a variety of statistical approaches such network science, mixed effects modeling, and machine learning. My general philosophy is to start with a question of interest – e.g., How does formal training in an artistic domain change how we experience art? – and incorporate the appropriate techniques to answer it.
Most recently, I have applied many of these questions outside of academia in the field of user experience research! By exploring people’s beliefs, experiences (conscious and otherwise), and aesthetic preferences, I hope to be able to improve design and interactions with digital products.
Areas of Study
Creativity & Aesthetics
In a similar vein, I have also investigated aesthetic experience – an output of creative expression. More specifically, my work aims to understand the underlying psychological responses to the built and natural environment.
Religious beliefs are widely shared and deeply personal, but where do they come from? My work – along with a rich literature in the cognitive science of religion – has begun to demonstrate that religious beliefs are not “special.” Like other beliefs we hold, religious beliefs are byproducts of intuitions developed from natural cognitive and biological mechanisms. My research has highlighted the role of bottom-up processing on belief formation and has begun to consider underlying neural mechanisms to examine the different ways in which God is represented in the human brain.