Jeffrey M. Zacks, PhD,

Professor of Psychology

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

My lab studies higher perception and cognition, in particular event understanding and spatial cognition. We use a combination of behavioral studies in healthy young adults, older adults, and neurological patients, functional neuroimaging, and computational modeling. EVENT STRUCTURE PERCEPTION What structure does the mind impose on the continuous flux of experience? In a series of experiments we have found evidence that activity is naturally perceived in terms of hierarchically organized part-subpart relationships. Event parts are identified based on bottom-up cues such as motion, and based on top-down processing of goals and schemas. Functional MRI (fMRI) data indicate that the ability to parse activity into meaningful units has a unique neural substrate. Perceptual event structure correlates with downstream cognition, e.g. language and memory. MENTAL SPATIAL TRANSFORMATIONS Evidence from behavioral studies and neuropsychology suggests that multiple neural subsystems support distinct spatial reasoning abilities. We have been exploring a proposed dissociation between imagined transformations of objects and of our perspectives. fMRI experiments indicate the two types of transformation depend on overlapping, but partly dissociable neural systems. Chronometric studies show that they have different computational properties. Psychometric data and patient studies indicate that they can vary independently across individuals.