Fischer-Baum Lab

Our lab takes a problem-centered focus to research questions of the representations and processes that underlie cognition. We combine a wide range of experimental methods – computational modeling, behavioral studies and brain-imaging techniques (e.g., fMRI, ERP/EEGs, tDCS) – and study a variety of populations – unimpaired undergraduate, individuals with developmental differences like congenital deafness or blindness, those with cognitive impairments following brain damage – all with the goal of understanding human capacities for language and memory. Below are several ongoing projects in the lab.

Written language.
Despite being a relatively recent cultural invention, the literate minds/brain process written words automatically, with specialized neural substrates. Understanding the cognitive and neural underpinnings of written language can provide key insights into a number of questions that are at the core of cognitive science: how do neural and cognitive systems adapt to learned expertise? How do different cognitive systems interact?  Current research in this area is focusing on a number of questions: What do we know when we know the spelling of a word?  How are the representations and processes involved in reading organized in the brain?
Representing sequences.
Sequence representations, at a minimum, contain information about the identity and position of items in the sequence.  How is position represented? Is position represented the same for different types of sequences – from reading and spelling to spoken language production to serial recall tasks that tap into short-term memory?
Temporal dynamics of cognition. Perseveration errors – intrusions from the past that are commonly observed in brain-damaged population – provide a unique window into the temporal dynamics of serial order processing; these errors occur when something from the past is selected over the current target. Identifying what can go wrong during serial order processing that leads to this mis-selection can reveal the multiple components of the intact system. As a result, understanding the causes of perseverations can provide insight into both the dynamics of activation in different cognitive domains and inhibitory processes.

 

Current Lab Members

Simon Fischer-Baum. fischerbaumDr. Fischer-Baum is an Assistant Professor of Psychology. His research is focused on the representations and processes that underlie written and spoken language processing and short term memory, how they relate to each other, how they are instantiated neurally, and how they can be impaired and/or cortically reorganize following brain damage.

Colin Noe.noe Colin is a 4th year graduate student in the Fischer-Baum Lab. He received a B.S. in Biology from Texas A&M in 2011, with minors in math and philosophy.  He uses EEG/ERP methods to test cognitive theories of spoken language perception and memory and is a member of the Rice Neuroengineering IGERT program.

Yingxue Tian. Yingxue is a 4th year graduate student in the Fischer-Baum Lab. She received a B.S. in Statistics from the Beijing Institute of Technology in 2013. Her research focuses on short-term memory for serial order, using both neuropsychological and individual differences methods.

Mingjun Zhai. Mingjun is a 2nd year graduate student in the Fischer-Baum Lab.  She received a B.S. in Statistics from the University of Hong Kong in 2011 and an M.S. in Psychology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2014. Her research involves investigating the relationship between perceiving and producing Chinese characters.

Sarah Irons. Sarah is a 2nd year graduate student in the Fischer-Baum Lab.  She received a B.S. in Biology and B.A.s in Sociology and Psychology from Centenary College of Louisiana in 2016. Her research interests include computational cognitive neuropsychology, sociolinguistics, and using phonetic measurement to understand cognitive processes in speech production and reading.

Elizabeth Baca. Elizabeth is the lab manager of the Fischer-Baum Lab. She received her B.A. in Cognitive Science from Rice University in 2017.

 

Former Lab Members

David Kajander. David was lab manager from 2013-2015. He graduated from Wash U. in 2011 and is currently a graduate student in Cognitive Psychology at UMass Amherst, in the Language, Intersensory Perception & Speech Lab.

Rachel Mis. Rachel was lab manager from 2015-2016. She graduated from Rice in 2009 and is currently a graduate student in Clinical Psychology at Temple University in the Cognitive Neuropsychology Lab.

Giulia Campana. Giulia was the lab manager from 2016-2017. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Rice University in 2016 and is currently pursuing musicology.

Aurora Ramos-Nunez. Dr. Ramos-Nunez was a research scientist in the Neuroplasticity Lab from 2015-2017. She is now an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the College of Coastal Georgia.