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My research investigates the cognitive control functions that enable flexible and intelligent behavior. There are two key themes captured in my research program. First, given the centrality of cognitive control to many domains of cognition, my research aims to study flexible control as it manifests in many different contexts, ranging from visual attention to decision-making to memory. This approach can identify analogous functions of cognitive control across cognitive domains by leveraging theories and models that have been developed in one domain and then extending them to account for control functions in a separate related domain.

Second, I aim to address cognitive control across levels of analysis by connecting behavioral and brain data with theory-driven computational models that are rooted in neurobiological mechanisms. To this end, my research combines a variety of cognitive neuroscience techniques (fMRI, EEG, TMS) with a range of modeling approaches (e.g. reinforcement learning, drift diffusion models, forward-encoding models, mathematical models of working memory) to test hypotheses about the computational and neural mechanisms underlying cognition.

Selected publications:

Cognitive Control and Working Memory (with Mark D'Esposito at UC Berkeley)

  • Kiyonaga, A.*, Scimeca, J. M.*, & D’Esposito, M. (accepted Registered Report). Dissociating the causal roles of frontal and parietal cortex in working memory capacity. Nature Human Behaviour.
  • Riddle, J.*, Scimeca, J. M.*, Cellier, D., Dhanani, S., & D'Esposito, M. (2020). Causal evidence for a role of theta and alpha oscillations in the control of working memory. Current Biology.
  • Scimeca, J. M., Kiyonaga, A., D’Esposito, M. (2018). Reaffirming the sensory recruitment account of working memory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Cognitive Control of Declarative Memory (with David Badre at Brown University)

  • Scimeca, J. M., Katzman, P. L., & Badre, D. (2016). Striatal prediction errors support dynamic control of declarative memory decisions. Nature Communications.
  • Scimeca, J. M. & Badre, D. (2012). Striatal contributions to declarative memory retrieval. Neuron.

Dynamic Visual Attention (with Steve Franconeri at Northwestern University)