Cognitive processes, especially memory and comprehension. How they work in both controlled laboratory experiments and in everyday settings (e.g., medical cognition, courtroom cognition, perception and memory for human movement).
A wide range of basic cognitive processes and their interconnections, especially perception, memory, comprehension, representation, language and problem solving. Special emphasis on: 1) alternative mental representations (e.g., text, lists, outlines, matrices, trees, diagrams) and their effects on cognition; 2) linguistic codability (the ease with which people can name things and the effects of naming on cognition and action); 3) perception and interpretation of human movement; 4) individual differences in cognition (the distinction between "language-based" and "language-optional" individuals); 5) knowledge structures (what they are, how to measure them, how they vary across content domains and expertise).
Cognitive processes in everyday life, examined both in the everyday world and laboratory settings. Major projects include: 1) Medical Cognition (how healthcare providers and patients find, understand, remember and use medical information); 2) Courtroom Cognition (how judges, jurors, lawyers, and laypersons understand legal documents and decide court cases); 3) Memory for Movement (how dancers and athletes learn, remember, and perform movement sequences); 4) Responsive Virtual Human Technology (how humans interact with virtual humans to learn new skills); 5) Cognition and Teaching (cognitive processes of professors and students across academic domains and their implications for teaching/learning).
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Both patients and healthcare professionals must understand information about prescription drugs to help them use medications in a safe and effective manner. However drug information materials can be difficult to understand – they can be long, detailed, technical, and complex. Comprehension problems can increase the chances that ineffective treatment or medication errors will occur. This paper presents an overview of a large-scale research program on how people understand drug information, especially benefits and risks. It describes basic cognitive principles used to evaluate drug information and shows ways to make it easier to understand and use. Two key concepts underlie this work, cognitive accessibility and alternative representations. They are described and illustrated with sample experiments on comprehension of pharmacy leaflets, TV ads, medication schedules, and side effects.
Researchers are generally trained to administer informed consent by studying approved guidelines, but can still fail to answer questions from potential participants in a satisfactory manner. An application using a virtual character allowed novice participants to practice administering informed consent. This character was designed to behave as a potential participant for a study and asked many of the questions research participants typically ask, such as queries about the study itself, the sponsor, timing, selection procedures, confidentiality, voluntariness, benefits and risks, and contact information. The user responded to the character’s queries as if speaking with a true potential research participant. The application was effective even after only brief usage. In a laboratory experiment, novice participants who practiced with the virtual character were later more effective in conducting informed consent interviews with a human interviewee than those who were trained only with written materials. Thus, simulated learning-by-doing improved informed consent skills. Implications for related health dialog applications are discussed.