My primary research interests include visual attention, perception, memory, and action.
My most recent and primary line of research focuses on how we represent and manage multiple action plans to perform daily life activities (e.g., drive to work, cook dinner) and pursue new activities (e.g., learn to play hockey). Action planning involves deciding what to do and when to do it. When carrying out complex actions, we often need to momentarily suspend the execution of one action plan to execute another. We investigate how action plans are represented in working memory and how managing multiple action plans affects the execution of each plan.
My secondary line of research investigates the phenomenon of “precrastination” which is the opposite of procrastination. Precrastination is the tendency to start or finish things as soon as possible even if it requires more physical effort. Research in my laboratory suggests that precrastination may occur to reduce cognitive effort. Understanding precrastination will have important implications for explaining why hurrying happens as often as it does and may help reduce the chance that haste makes waste. Understanding precrastination may also help reduce hurrying that can lead to risky behaviors.
My research integrates theories of action planning with perception and memory theories to provide a more comprehensive and powerful approach to understanding how action plans are represented in the human mind, and how they interact to control behavior. This research will provide the groundwork for developing training strategies and mnemonic devices to improve successful execution of goal-directed behaviors in populations in which memory is compromised due to stress, aging, or disease.