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Our research examines a variety of "understanding" processes involving visual thinking,
language comprehension and problem-solving processes. To find out what goes on in
a person's mind during such thinking, our lab uses several methodologies, such as
functional brain imaging, reaction time studies, verbal protocol analysis, and eye
movement monitoring during comprehension and visual thinking. The experiments
determine the nature of the on-line psychological processes that occur during
understanding and thinking. The research examines the thinking of both normal subjects
as well as patients with brain damage, to determine the organization of the underlying
cognitive mechanisms. The various performance measures are used to construct
theoretical models, often expressed in computational terms, that perform the same
task and exhibit similar performance characteristics as human subjects.

The specific topics that our research addresses include sentence and text
comprehension, coordinated comprehension of text and diagrams, and the role of
working memory in comprehension and problem-solving, mental kinematics and mental
models of dynamic events. In addition to studying various kinds of understanding, we also
examine why individuals differ in the strategies and cognitive resources that they bring to
bear on a task, attempting to explain why some people are better thinkers than others.
Since early 1995, we have been using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to
study sentence comprehension and spatial thinking. The early part of this work has not
only found the network of brain areas that become active during various language and
visual tasks, but has also begun to relate the amount of brain activity to the amount of 
cognitive processing. fMRI research has become another tool for addressing the nature
of  understanding (linguistic and visual), directly assessing brain function during task
performance.

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