Marcia Johnson

Sterling Prof of Psychology; Department Chair, Psychology

Research Interests

Cognition and cognitive neuroscience. Component processes of memory subsystems; reality monitoring processes (e.g., cues used to distinguish real from imagined events) and source monitoring in general; aging and memory; emotion and cognition; executive processes; autobiographical memory


Research Summary

My lab group studies human memory and considers such issues as the component processes of reflection and consciousness, mechanisms of veridical and distorted memory, and the relation between emotion and cognition. Ongoing research questions include:

  1. A component processes analysis of memory and cognition. What are the basic “processing units” underlying memory? How are these component processes organized, and how do they interact?
  2. Memory binding. How are individual features of experience (e.g., color, shape, location, emotion) bound together to create complex memories? What processes are needed in addition to perceptual binding?
  3. Reality monitoring/source monitoring. How are the memory representations of perception and thought (imagination, dreams, fantasies) alike, and how are they different; and why are they sometimes confused? What is the role of emotion in memory distortions? More generally, what is the relation between our attributions about the sources of memories, knowledge, and beliefs, and their actual origins?
  4. Aging and memory. We are exploring age-related changes in memory in all of the above—in identifying component processes of cognition, in binding the attributes of memories, and in source monitoring. We use cognitive/behavioral and neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques to investigate these questions.


Selected Publications

  • Ebner, N.C., & Johnson, M.K. (2009). Young and older emotional faces: Are there age group differences in expression identification and memory? Emotion, 9, 329-339.
  • He, Y., Johnson, M.K., Dovidio, J.F., & McCarthy, G. (2009). The relation between race-related implicit associations and scalp-recorded neural activity evoked by faces from different races. Social Neuroscience, 4, 426-442.
  • Bloise, S.M. and Johnson, M.K. (2007). Memory for emotional and neutral information: Gender and individual differences in emotional sensitivity. Memory 15:192-204.
  • Raye, C.L., Johnson, M.K., Mitchell, K.J., Greene, E.J., and Johnson, M.R. (2007). Refreshing: A minimal executive function. Cortex 43:135-145

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