Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Education & Training
Ph.D., University of London (UK) 2002
B.S., University of London (UK) 1999
My goal is to understand how humans produce purposeful, adaptive behavior. The main ingredient for adaptive behavior, in all animals, is memory: we understand the world around us by matching the flow of incoming sensory information to previous experience. Importantly, by retrieving past episodes that resemble our present situation, we can predict what is likely to happen next, thus anticipating forthcoming stimuli and advantageous responses learned from past outcomes. Hence, I am interested in how the brain generates predictions about the world. However, unlike many other animals, humans can also produce adaptive behavior that runs counter to our learning history. For instance, we are able to switch from life-long driving on the right side of the road to driving on the left side during a trip to the UK. This capacity to use contextual information (“I’m in London”) to override habitual responses in favor of temporarily more goal-conducive actions is referred to as “cognitive control”, and it greatly enhances the flexibility of human behavior. Cognitive control requires the formation of temporary memory ensembles that link responses to stimuli in novel ways; this is often referred to as a “working memory”, and conceptualized as strategically attending to a select set of currently task-relevant representations. However, the mechanisms that govern this interplay between attention and memory remain poorly understood; our research aims to improve this situation. In my lab, we address the above questions using behavioral, computational, neuroimaging (e.g., fMRI) and neuro-stimulation (TMS) techniques.
Cognitive control, memory, attention, predictive coding, neuroimaging, neurostimulation
Jiang, J, Wagner, AD, and Egner, T. "Integrated externally and internally generated task predictions jointly guide cognitive control in prefrontal cortex." Elife 7 (August 16, 2018). Full Text
Tan, J, Yin, S, Wang, L, Chen, A, and Egner, T. "Processing overlap-dependent distractor dilution rather than perceptual target load determines attentional selectivity." Attention, Perception & Psychophysics (July 2, 2018). Full Text
Bejjani, C, Zhang, Z, and Egner, T. "Control by association: Transfer of implicitly primed attentional states across linked stimuli." Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 25.2 (April 2018): 617-626. Full Text
Muhle-Karbe, PS, Jiang, J, and Egner, T. "Causal Evidence for Learning-Dependent Frontal Lobe Contributions to Cognitive Control." The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 38.4 (January 2018): 962-973. Full Text
Whitehead, PS, and Egner, T. "Frequency of Prospective Use Modulates Instructed Task- Set Interference(Accepted)." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance (January 1, 2018). Full Text
Chiu, Y-C, and Egner, T. "Cueing cognitive flexibility: Item-specific learning of switch readiness." Journal of Experimental Psychology. Human Perception and Performance 43.12 (December 2017): 1950-1960. Full Text
Kiyonaga, A, Dowd, EW, and Egner, T. "Neural Representation of Working Memory Content Is Modulated by Visual Attentional Demand." Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 29.12 (December 2017): 2011-2024. Full Text
Whitehead, PS, and Egner, T. "Cognitive Control Over Prospective Task-set Interference (Accepted)." Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance (November 20, 2017). Full Text
Oh-Descher, H, Beck, JM, Ferrari, S, Sommer, MA, and Egner, T. "Probabilistic inference under time pressure leads to a cortical-to-subcortical shift in decision evidence integration." Neuroimage 162 (November 2017): 138-150. Full Text Open Access Copy
Qiao, L, Zhang, L, Chen, A, and Egner, T. "Dynamic Trial-by-Trial Recoding of Task-Set Representations in the Frontoparietal Cortex Mediates Behavioral Flexibility." The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 37.45 (November 2017): 11037-11050. Full Text
Dowd, EW, Kiyonaga, A, Beck, JM, and Egner, T. "Probability of guessing, not precision, changes in mixture models of visual working memory during cognitive control of attentional guidance." September 14, 2014. Full Text
Torres-Quesada, M, Korb, FM, Jesus Funes, M, Lupianez, J, and Egner, T. "DISSOCIABLE NEURAL MECHANISMS MEDIATE PROACTIVE CONTROL OVER EMOTIONAL VS. NON-EMOTIONAL CONFLICT." 2013.
Braem, S, King, J, Korb, F, Krebs, R, Notebaert, W, and Egner, T. "AFFECTIVE MODULATION OF COGNITIVE CONTROL VARIES WITH PERFORMANCE-CONTINGENCY." 2013.
Kiyonaga, A, and Egner, T. "RESOURCE-SHARING BETWEEN INTERNAL MAINTENANCE AND EXTERNAL SELECTION UNDERLIES THE CAPTURE OF ATTENTION BY WORKING MEMORY CONTENT." 2013.
Jiang, J, Summerfield, C, and Egner, T. "ATTENTION AMPLIFIES OR SUPPRESSES NEURAL PREDICTION ERROR RESPONSES IN A REGIONALLY SPECIFIC MANNER." 2013.
Characterizing Neural Mechanisms of Cognitive Control awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2019
Mechanisms Regulating Complex Social Behavior awarded by University of Pennsylvania (Co Investigator). 2016 to 2019
Cognitive and neural mechanisms of working memory gating and updating awarded by US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018
Thrust 1: Biophysical Modeling and Satisficing Control Strategies as Derived from Quantification of Primate Brain Activ awarded by Office of Naval Research (Co-Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2018
Expectation and Attention in Visual Cognition awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2018
A Compute Cluster for Brain Imaging and Analysis awarded by National Institutes of Health (Major User). 2016 to 2017
Effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Neurons in Behaving Primates awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2012 to 2014
Precision Targeting of fMRI-Guided TMS Using a Robotic Arm System awarded by National Institutes of Health (Investigator). 2010 to 2011