Current Studies



Investigators: John Jonides, Ed Smith, Patricia Reuter-Lorenz, Anat Geva.

A study of verbal working memory in which the subject needs to remember a list of words while performing simple calculations. PET data are presently being collected with both senior and junior subjects.



Investigators: John, Ed, Christy Marshuetz.

A study of spatial working memory in which subjects need to remember dot arrangements while performing a distraction task.


Equated Difficulty

Investigators: John, Ed, Leon.

This study compares verbal and spatial working memory and aims at understanding how these two processes are maintained over time. Functional MRI data are collected while young subjects maintain items in memory for varying amounts of time (2, 4, 6, 8, 10 second).



Investigators: John, Ed, Patricia Reuter-Lorenz, Christy. RA: Ulrike

Functional MRI study.


Shape Naming

Investigators: John, Ed, Tor. RA: Rick

This experiment is an extension of the Stroop task. It involves shape and color names. It includes multiple training sessions and an ERP session. It will eventually involve fMRI.


Spatial Integration in Aging

Investigators: John, Ed, Patricia Reuter-Lorenz, Meredith, Chuck.

In pilot stage. Eventually an fMRI study.


Feature Priming

Investigators: Ed, Anat. RA: Ulrike

Is there a distinction in people's concept of objects between information about the appearance of the objects and the actions characteristic of the object? Subjects are presented statements about various objects that pertain to either the appearance or action of the object; they have to decide, as quickly as possible, whether the statement is true or false. A first pilot has been completed and a second is under way. This study is part of a larger project done in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.


Rule- vs. Exemplar-Based Categorization

Investigators: Andrea P., Ed.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the roles of working memory, selective attention, and long term memory in categorization. It is hypothesized that the first two processes are involved in rule-based categorization (using a known rule to determine the category membership of an item) while the latter is involved in exemplar-based categorization (using an item's similarity to known members of various categories to determine its category membership). Status: completed data collection.


Implicit Categorization

Investigators: Ed Smith, Andrea P., Nathalie. RA: Jen

This study serves to investigate the difference between implicit and explicit memory in categorization. Data are collected with normal young and old adults, with Alzheimer's patients and with patients with anterograde amnesia.


Attention Switching and Task Management

Investigators: John, Ed. RA: David

This experiment is examining the relationship between attention and executive processes by comparing two putatively similar types of switching tasks, namely switching between items stored in working memory and between processes acting upon those items in memory. This experiment will use a trial-by-trial fMRI analysis to examine whether these two types of attention are mediated by unique switching circuits or a common attention allocation center.


Parkinson's and Serial Attention

Investigators: John. RA: David

This is a set of experiments being done in conjunction with Bill Gehring and Roger Albin in neurology. These experiments use the attention switching tasks described above to examine the nature of some cognitive deficits observed in Parkinson's patients. This series has behavioral, fMRI, and ERP phases.



Investigators: John, Ed. RA: David

The classic neuropsychological test of frontal lobe function, the trails task, is being adapted from the traditional paper/pencil version to a computer version that can be used in fMRI. The eventual fMRI study will have at least two applications, looking at what areas of the brain are specifically involved in the clinical trails and examining the regions of the brain involved in managing two items serially in memory.


Paraphrase Study

Investigators: Ed, John, Anat, Joe M.

Study of semantic vs. phonological memory with normal subjects. Status: still in development but ultimate goal is imaging.


Estrogen Study

Investigators: John, Ed, Andrea M., Anat. RA: Ulrike

A study of working memory in post-menopausal women who are either receiving or not receiving estrogen replacement therapy. Status: data recently analyzed.


Episodic Memory in Alzheimer's Study

Investigators: Andrea B. RA: Ulrike

Study of episodic memory in people with Alzheimer's disease vs. same-aged controls. Functional MRI data are currently being collected.