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Jeffrey M. Zacks

Washington University, Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO 
event perception, spatial reasoning, memory
"Jeffrey Zacks"

My lab studies perception and cognition using the methods of experimental psychology and neuroscience. One of our primary interests is in how people parse ongoing activity into meaningful events. The sensory world has been described as "a blooming, buzzing confusion," yet we seem to talk and think about activity as consisting of a modest number of discrete events. My lab's work suggests that this is so because specialized brain systems form stable representations that chunk intervals of time into coherent events, and chunk events into larger super-events. This segmentation is adaptive—people who don't segment activity very well also don't remember it as well later.

A second primary interest of the lab is in mental imagery. When we solve spatial reasoning problems—like how to pack bags in a trunk or navigate home from the store—many of us have the impression that we form and manipulate mental images of spatial situations. Our research supports this intuition. The findings also suggest that we may have several specialized brain systems for doing different sorts of mental image transformations. This specialization may help explain individual differences in cognitive abilities and cognitive deficits in brain damage, and may prove important for training people on spatial cognitive tasks.
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Mean distance: 16.12 (cluster 60)


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Michael J. Tarr research assistant Yale University
Barbara Tversky grad student 1994-1995 Stanford
Thomas K. Landauer research scientist 1992-1994
 (Bell Communications Research (Bellcore))
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Eisenberg ML, Zacks JM, Flores S. (2018) Dynamic prediction during perception of everyday events. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications. 3: 53
Sargent JQ, Zacks JM, Hambrick DZ, et al. (2018) Event memory uniquely predicts memory for large-scale space. Memory & Cognition
Richmond LL, Sargent JQ, Flores S, et al. (2018) Age differences in spatial memory for mediated environments. Psychology and Aging
Yu AB, Zacks JM. (2017) Transformations and representations supporting spatial perspective taking. Spatial Cognition and Computation. 17: 304-337
Richmond LL, Gold DA, Zacks JM. (2017) Event perception: Translations and applications. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition. 6: 111-120
Richmond LL, Zacks JM. (2017) Constructing Experience: Event Models from Perception to Action. Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Bailey HR, Kurby CA, Sargent JQ, et al. (2017) Attentional focus affects how events are segmented and updated in narrative reading. Memory & Cognition
Flores S, Bailey HR, Eisenberg ML, et al. (2017) Event Segmentation Improves Event Memory up to One Month Later. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Gold DA, Zacks JM, Flores S. (2017) Effects of cues to event segmentation on subsequent memory. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications. 2: 1
Zacks JM, Kurby CA, Landazabal CS, et al. (2015) Effects of penetrating traumatic brain injury on event segmentation and memory. Cortex; a Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior. 74: 233-246
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