The Neuroergonomics and Cognition Laboratory is part of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience,in the Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders Program.
The laboratory focuses on three separate aspecs of human behaviour and cognition: mental fatigue, mindfulness meditation and moral decision-making. In these topic areas, we use a variety of approaches (fMRI, EEG and behavioural experiments) to interrogate the neural bases of psychological phenomena.
The feeling of being "mentally drained" is a familiar one in the modern classroom and workplace, but what are the biological substrates of these sensations? Despite decades of research, competing theories of mental fatigue are still being debated, and our hope is that neuroimaging experiments may resolve some of the oustanding questions in the field. In our work, we primarily study individual differences in vulnerability and fatigue, as well as differences in how individuals recover from the state of fatigue. A long-term goal of this work is to discover and craft effective interventions to reduce the negative effects of mental fatigue so as to prevent workplace accidents, increase productivity and enhance well-being.
Mindfulness, broadly defined as the awareness and acceptance of moment-to-moment thoughts, feeling, and bodily sensations through enhanced control over metacognitive processes, is gaining increasing popularity as a means to improve cognition, mental health, and general wellbeing. While a number of studies have shown benefits of mindfulness training on executive attention, studies of its effects on sustained attention and time-on-task have yield mixed results. We are actively investigating the effects of mindfulness meditation on attention and performance on both healthy and clinical populations.
People make moral choices by weighing a combination of factual, social and emotional inputs. Our work in this field investigates the brain systems underlying these various components, and how this information is integrated in the brain. Our approach so far has been to use emotional priming to influence people's moral judgements and decisions. Through this research, we hope to better understand the neural signatures of moral behaviour, as well as identify the circumstances under which people are lightly to act immorally.