Cognitive Control

Cognitive control involves a number of regulatory or executive processes that allocate attention, manipulate and evaluate available information (and, when necessary, seek additional information), plan future behaviors, and deal with distraction and impulsivity when they are threats to goal achievement. These processes are considered a feature of human cognition and an important developmental milestone. Many of the other research projects in our lab relate to cognitive control. Studies of self-control, prospective memory, and metacognition all also highlight aspects of cognitive control.

In addition, we are studying this construct using tasks in which animals and children are given conflicting cues, or distracting information, to determine the degree to which they can make smart choices.

For example, we are testing children and chimpanzees on tasks where they must remember where rewards is located, and not be distracted by labels (lexigrams or photos) on the opaque containers that cover those rewards because they are a distraction. In other tests, we are examining how post-event information that is misleading might disrupt memory, or even create false memories.

Selected Related Publications:

Beran, M. J. (2017). To err is (not only) human: Fallibility as a window into primate cognition.  Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews, 12, 57-81. 

Parrish, A. E., Otalora-Garcia, A., & Beran, M. J. (2017). Dealing with interference: Chimpanzees respond to conflicting cues in a food-choice memory task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition, 43, 366-376. NCBI Logo

Beran, M. J., Menzel, C. R., Parrish, A. E., Perdue, B. M., Sayers, K., Smith, J. D., & Washburn, J. D. (2016). Primate cognition: Attention, episodic memory, prospective memory, self-control, and metacognition as examples of cognitive control in nonhuman primates. WIREs Cognitive Science.  doi: 10.1002/wcs.1397 NCBI Logo

Beran, M. J. (2015). Chimpanzee cognitive control. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 24, 352-357. NCBI Logo