Research Interests

I study memory using a combination of cognitive psychology, neuroimaging, and computational modeling methods. I am particularly interested in what factors makes some experiences more memorable than others and how these influences can manifest in future behavior, such as decision making. I also specialize in characterizing inter-individual differences in brain morphology.

Theme 1: Motivated Memory

Memory does not serve as a veridical recording of prior experiences that can be ‘played back.’ Instead, many factors can lead some experiences to be more memorable than others. For instance, some experiences are more valuable in informing future behavior and should be selectively prioritized. Such experiences include those that automatically evoke reward-, emotion-, or motor-related processes. Biases in memory are particularly relevant if they manifest themselves in future behavior, such as decision making.

Selected Publications

Madan, C. R. (2017). Motivated cognition: Effects of reward, emotion, and other motivational factors across a variety of cognitive domains. Collabra: Psychology, 3, 24. doi:10.1525/collabra.111

Madan, C. R.*, Fujiwara, E.*, Caplan, J. B., & Sommer, T. (2017). Emotional arousal impairs association-memory: Roles of amygdala and hippocampus. NeuroImage, 156, 14-28. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.04.065

Madan, C. R., Ludvig, E. A., & Spetch, M. L. (2017). The role of memory in distinguishing risky decisions from experience and description. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70, 2048-2059. doi:10.1080/17470218.2016.1220608

Madan, C. R.*, Shafer, A. T.*, Chan, M., & Singhal, A. (2017). Shock and awe: Distinct effects of taboo words on lexical decision and free recall. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70, 793-810. doi:10.1080/17470218.2016.1167925

Theme 2: Brain Morphology

Structural MRIs make it apparent that there are both clear inter-individual differences in brain structure, while also general population consistencies. Examining brain morphology can serve as a complementary neuroimaging approach to fMRI that is not influenced by some systematic biases (e.g., age-related changes in vasculature) while also potentially directly providing novel insights into brain-behavior relationships.

Selected Publications

Madan, C. R., & Kensinger, E. A. (2018). Predicting age from cortical structure across the lifespan. European Journal of Neuroscience, 47, 399-416. doi:10.1111/ejn.13835

Madan, C. R. (in press). Shape-related characteristics of age-related differences in subcortical structures. Aging & Mental Health. doi:10.1080/13607863.2017.1421613

Madan, C. R. (2017). Advances in studying brain morphology: The benefits of open-access data. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11, 405. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2017.00405

Madan, C. R., & Kensinger, E. A. (2016). Cortical complexity as a measure of age-related brain atrophy. NeuroImage, 134, 617-629. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.04.029

Theme 3: Methods Development

An important aspect of research is to improve our methodological rigor, along with asking more precise research questions. Through collaborations, I have also done work where my primary goal has been to improve the research methods themselves--either as the direct goal (e.g., developing a novel test of movement imagery) or indirectly (e.g., designing psychophysics stimuli; using formal model selection techniques to more precisely test research questions).
For more details on projects explicitly designed for methods development, see here.

Selected Publications

Madan, C. R., Harrison, T., & Mathewson, K. E. (2018). Noncontact measurement of emotional and physiological changes in heart rate from a webcam. Psychophysiology, 55, e13005. doi:10.1111/psyp.13005

Madan, C. R. (2016). Multiple statistical tests: lessons from a d20. F1000Research, 5, 1129. doi:10.12688/f1000research.8834.2

Madan, C. R., & Spetch, M. L. (2014). Visualizing and quantifying movement from pre-recorded videos: The spectral time-lapse (STL) algorithm. F1000Research, 3, 19. doi:10.12688/f1000research.3-19

Madan, C. R., & Singhal, A. (2013). Introducing TAMI: An objective test of ability in movement imagery. Journal of Motor Behavior, 45, 153-166. doi:10.1080/00222895.2013.763764