Evangelia Chrysikou, PhD
Associate Dean for Research
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
- Cognitive neuroscience
- Neural bases of memory, language, and executive functions
- Neurocognitive processes associated with problem solving and flexible thought
- Functional neuroimaging and non-invasive brain stimulation in healthy and psychiatric populations (mood and anxiety disorders)
- Translational neuroscience
How does my research make a difference?
How do we use what we know to solve problems or come up with creative ideas? What does it mean to think flexibly and be able to focus on different kinds of information depending on our goals? Cognitive flexibility and creative thinking are the cornerstones of the type of complex mental operations that make us, humans, unique relative to all other species. My lab uses cognitive neuroscience techniques, such as brain imaging and noninvasive brain stimulation, to understand the neural mechanisms enabling this type of flexible thought. The impact of our findings is threefold.
- Education: Our results demonstrate that cognitive flexibility is not a special, innate quality for the lucky few, but rather, it relies on common cognitive processes that can be altered and developed by experience.
- Discovery: Training people to be more creative and flexible is not only possible, but it can increase the kinds of discoveries that can advance our civilization.
- Treatment: Understanding the brain mechanisms that support flexible thinking can help treat inflexibility, a hallmark of most neurological and psychiatric disorders, like dementia and depression.
Bio:How do people use their knowledge about the world to achieve goals and solve problems? Research in my lab focuses on the intersection of three areas within cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, namely memory, language, and action/perception. My lab investigates the flexibility in cognitive control during goal-oriented behavior, with an emphasis on human problem solving and everyday tool use. We use cognitive neuroscience methods (functional and structural MRI, noninvasive transcranial electric stimulation, and lesion studies) to study flexibility in cognitive and emotional regulation, as well as the implications of such flexibility for theories of semantic knowledge organization and cognitive control. I am further exploring the educational applications of cognitive flexibility training paradigms for the development of higher-order thinking in young adults, as well as the translational implications of cognitive flexibility for the characterization of deficient cognitive/executive profiles in depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders marked by prefrontal cortex hypofunction.