Thompson-Schill Lab :: People

Principal Investigator

Sharon Thompson-Schill Sharon L. Thompson Schill
Davidson College; B.A. in Psychology
Stanford University; Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology

Research Interests: I am interested in many aspects of human cognition (see blurbs below!), but recurring themes include the role of the frontal lobes in the regulation of thought, and the link between perceptual and memory systems.

Research in progress: One major theme in the lab right now is an effort to understand the costs, as well as the benefits, of frontally-mediated cognitive control. Our current ideas about this are summarized in Chrysikou et al., 2014, Neuropsychologia. A second major theme concerns how conceptual information is dynamically retrieved and reconfigured; this work includes studies of how visual features are integrated into concepts (e.g., Coutanche & Thompson-Schill, Cerebral Cortex), how new conceptual information is integrated with prior knowledge (e.g., Coutanche & Thompson-Schill, JEP:General), and how different variables affect how we retrieve conceptual information (e.g., Hsu et al., J of Cog Neuro).

Current CV (updated 2014)

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Anna LeshinskayaAnna Leshinskaya
Carleton University; B.A. Cognitive Science, 2008
Harvard University; Ph.D. Psychology, 2015

Research Interests: I am interested in the acquisition and representation
of conceptual knowledge. An important observation is that conceptual
knowledge is not an undifferentiated, homogoenous system but is instead
organized into components specific to a domain (living; non-living) or
attribute type (color; shape; etc). One aspect of my research asks about
the factors that lead to such divisions and determine their cortical
placement. My most current line of work asks how different kinds of
conceptual knowledge are acquired, and to what end they are put to use
computationally. Specifically, I hope to account for the acquisition of
properties of objects that are not physical qualities (e.g., color or
shape) but which denote regularities in their interactions with the world
(e.g., the functions of artifacts and psychological properties of animate
kinds). This latter kind of property tends to be more abstract than the
former; an account of such property learning could thus yield insights into
how humans acquire abstract conceptual knowledge more generally.

Email:|Website »

Elisabeth KaruzaElisabeth Karuza
Georgetown University; B.A. (Honors) Linguistics, 2009
University of Rochester; Ph.D. Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 2014

Research Interests: Broadly speaking, I am interested in how learning, specifically implicit distributional learning, unfolds over time in the human brain. Using a combination of behavioral and functional neuroimaging methods, I aim to better understand not only the types of regularities to which human learners are sensitive, but also how a network of specialized neural substrates works in concert to extract and make use of them. I am particularly interested in how the learning process is influenced by top-down control functions associated with the frontal lobe.

Email:|Website »


Heath MathesonHeath Matheson
University of Winnipeg; B.A. (Honors) Psychology, 2006
Dalhousie University; Ph.D. Psychology, 2012

Research Interests: I am interested in sensorimotor or embodied theories of semantic memory. I am using fMRI to characterize the development of embodied representations and their flexible use in different psychological contexts.



Heath MathesonYoed Kenett
Hebrew University; B.A. & M.A. Cognitive Science, 2007 & 2009
Bar-Ilan University; Ph.D. Neuroscience, 2015

Research Interests: I examine how semantic memory structure enables and constrains high level cognitive processes, such as memory retrieval and creative thinking, in typical and clinical populations (such as persons with autism). To achieve this, I use computational methods to represent semantic memory structure and empirical neurocognitive methods to directly examine these computational findings.


Graduate Students

Lisa MuszElizabeth (Lisa) Musz
Carleton College; B.A. Psychology, 2010

Research Interests: I am interested in using neuroimaging techniques to explore the neural correlates of both semantic and working memory processes. In particular, I want to study flexible and creative thought, as well as the role of the prefrontal cortex in learning and goal-oriented behavior.

Research in Progress: I am currently researching the effects of hypofrontality on visual statistical learning using transcranial direct current simulation. Additionally, I am using fMRI adaptation techniques to inform distributed models of semantic memory for object representations.

Email: | Website »

Sarah Solomon Sarah Solomon
University of Delaware; M.A. Cognitive Science, 2012,
B.S. Psychology and Cognitive Science, 2011, B.A. Philosophy, 2011

Research Interests: What makes up a concept, where is conceptual meaning represented in the brain, and how do concepts interact with one another?

Research in Progress: I am using figurative language as a tool to examine how concepts interact with each other during language comprehension. Using behavioral methods and fMRI, I'm looking at how the selection of conceptual properties relates to response in left prefrontal cortex during comprehension of metaphors.


Nathan Tardiff Nathan Tardiff
Rutgers University; B.A. English, 2004
Harvard Graduate School of Education; Ed.M. Mind, Brain, and Education, 2012

Research Interests: I study the relationship between cognitive control and learning. Areas of interest: individual differences and developmental changes in cognitive control, including costs and benefits of control; interaction of cognitive control and representational capacities in mental flexibility and learning; computational modeling.

Research in Progress: Current work includes studying the role of prefrontal cortex in biasing reinforcement learning


Ariana FamiliarAriana Familiar
New York University; B.A. Psychology & Philosophy, 2013

Research Interests: I study how and by what properties the brain leverages visual information in behaviors such as recognizing and categorizing objects and perceiving scenes. Using behavioral and neuroimaging methods with computational modeling, I aim to elucidate how certain 'specialized' layers of large-scale neural networks interact to give rise to visual perception and memory-related processes.

ReseaRch Specialists


Michelle JohnsonMichelle Johnson
Swarthmore College; B.A. Neuroscience and Theater, 2016



Kathryn GravesKathryn Graves
Brown University; B.A. Psychology, 2015






Lab 2012

Lab members for the 2011 academic year.

Intranet - lab members only