About

I am an assistant professor of neuroscience at Muhlenberg College, a liberal arts college in Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA, about an hour north of Philadelphia and two hours west of New York City.

In my lab we ask fundamental questions about the role of the brain in perception and action in human beings, at the level of neural circuits and systems (rather than, say, the level of cells and molecules). In doing so, we take an ecological approach, as originally developed by the psychologist J.J. Gibson.

Accordingly, the basic assumptions driving research in the ecological neuroscience lab are (1) that brains are embedded in active bodies and situated in meaningful environments (i.e., consisting of affordances), and (2) that the processes of perception, cognition, and action are non-serial, and co-dependent on each other. Following Gibson’s theory of perceptual systems, we furthermore (3) approach the brain as a collection of pluripotent resources, rather than a collection of functionally specific modules, as has traditionally been the case. This latter aspect of the research program is also partly inspired by Michael Anderson’s recent theory of neural reuse.

To test these ideas, we employ both behavioral (e.g., dual task paradigms) and, in the future, cognitive neuroscientific research methodologies (e.g., meta-analytic functional fingerprinting, fNIRS, tDCS).

My recent paper in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews can be seen as manifesto for the lab.

In addition to empirical work I also take a deep interest in, and write about theoretical underpinnings of cognitive neuroscience such as philosophy of perception, philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of mind, and phenomenology.

 

Before coming to Muhlenberg:
Most recently, I was a post-doc in translational neuroscience and neurorehabilitation at the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute with Laurel Buxbaum and Branch Coslett, whose main affiliation is with the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I used TMS and lesion-symptom mapping to study neural contributions to motor cognition and perception in left-hemisphere stroke patients as well as neurologically-intact individuals. Before that, I was a PhD student in experimental psychology with Rich Masters and John van der Kamp at the University of Hong Kong’s Institute of Human Performance. I used visual masking, eye-tracking, and 3D motion capture to study the functional interpretation of the dorsal and ventral visual pathways. My dissertation was awarded the Li Ka Shing Prize, which goes annually to the top four dissertations produced across all departments, institutes and schools of the University of Hong Kong. Before THAT, I completed a drs. (equivalent to M.S.) in psychology at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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