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Cognition Lab

Led by Dr. Dan Corts

Research in cognition covers a variety of complex activities such remembering and forgetting, producing and comprehending language, solving problems, and making decisions.  Our lab groups spend most of their time examining two of these areas: Directed forgetting and figurative language usage.  In addition, at least one student each year works on applied, grant funded projects in regional public education.

Directed Forgetting 
Directed forgetting is a model for studying memory updating, the process through which an individual forgets (hopefully) unimportant information to save room for more important things.  There are two dominant lab procedures used to study directed forgetting: item method and list method.  Our research group has developed a third technique-- the category method. We are currently exploring the implications of decision making on directed forgetting.

Kimberly Klein, Amanda Murauto, & Chris Fowler (2011). Instructions outshine mood congruence in list method directed forgetting. Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago.

Bethany Lyon (2011). Are there priming effects for intentionally forgotten material? Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago.

Psycholinguistics:   Metaphors, Jokes, and Dirty Words 
Our lab has produced a number of papers and presentations on the production of figurative language in various contexts, such as lecture halls, sermons, and political satire.  We are particularly interested in the extension of metaphor through novel phrases that reflect typical conceptual metaphors.  For example, it is not uncommon to personify divisions of the federal government like this:  The Senate seems uncertain how to respond to the president's proposal...   Satire seems to involve extending the same basic figure of speech in a way that is novel and a little surprising, such as when Stephen Colbert reported that "Congress feels it never gets to do anything cool. The White House lets the other branches of government do whatever they want." 

Kimberly Klein* & Daniel Corts. (2011). Coactivation may cause interference in second language learners' speech. Association for Psychological  Science.  Washington, DC.

Spencer Campbell* & Nicholis Fox* (2010). Clusters facilitate metaphor reading times: A career of metaphor perspective.  Association for Psychological Science, San Fransisco, CA.

Daniel Corts & Spencer Campbell * (2009).  Novel metaphor extensions in political satire.  Panel at 2009 Corpus Linguistics  Workshop.  University of Liverpool, UK.  Also printed in Barnden, Lee, Littlemore, Moon, Philip, & Wallington (Eds.) Corpus-based approaches to figurative language.  University of Birmingham.

Allison Haskill & Daniel Corts (2009). Language Acquisition.  In E.H. Sandberg & B.L. Spritz (Eds) A Clinician's Guide to Normal Cognitive Development in Childhood.  New York: Routledge.

Educational Measurement & Student Development
Research in this area involves developing and validating measures of student motivation, peer leadership, and dimensions of classroom experiences.  The current work on classroom experiences is an attempt to identify the 'personality' of college classrooms. We have found that there are several major dimensions that define classroom experiences such as active vs. passive, interesting vs. dull, practical vs. theoretical, and so on. We hope to see how the classroom environment interacts with personal qualities to produce student learning and satisfaction.

Our consulting work focuses on the measurement of cognitive and behavioral outcomes, attitudes, and opinions. Our major project is with 21st Century Learning Centers throughout western Illinois. These are grant-funded, school-based programs designed to address community needs in nontraditional learning hours (before school, after school, and during summer or other extended breaks). We are also working on evaluating continuing education programs for teachers of math and science.

Deborah Bracke & Daniel Corts (in press).  Parental Involvement, Public Schools, and the Theory of Planned Behavior. Education.

Daniel Corts & Allison Stoner * (2011). The College Motives Scale: Classifying motives for entering college. Education, 131, 775-781.

Lab alumni continuing their work in experimental psychology:
Sarah Tauber ('04), PhD in Cognition, Colorado State,  Post doc researcher at Kent State University
Jane Stout ('05), PhD in Social Cognition, University of Massachusetts, Post doc at University of Colorado
Anthony Barnhart ('06),  PhD student in Cognition, Arizona State University
Aaron Boulton, ('06), PhD Student in Quantitative Psychology, University of Kansas
Katie McCarthy, ('09) PhD Student in Cognition, University of Illinois at Chicago
Spencer Campbell,  ('10), PhD Student in Cognition, University of Illinois at Chicago
Kim Klein ('11), PhD student in Cognition, Colorado State University
Beth Lyon ('12) PhD student in Lifespan Development/Cognition, Louisiana State University