Interested in working in a research laboratory? A number of laboratories on campus conduct cognitive science research and are often seeking undergraduate assistants and interns. Explore the research labs listed below by clicking on the links and reading about the research focus and projects. Contact the Weinberg Institute to explore research funding opportunities.
Faculty: Rada Mihalcea
Attention and Cognitive Control Laboratory
Faculty: Daniel Weissman
Basic and Applied Cognition Laboratory
Faculty: Priti Shah
Brain, Cognition, and Action Laboratory
Faculty: David E. Meyer
Cognition, Control, and Action Lab
Faculty: Taraz Lee
Cognitive and Affective Neuropsychology Laboratory
Faculty: Patricia Reuter-Lorenz
Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory
Faculty: John Jonides
Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab
Faculty: Thad Polk
Computational Neurolinguistics Lab
Faculty: Jon Brennan
Conceptual Development Lab
Faculty: Susan Gelman
Ecological Neuroscience Lab
Faculty: Stephanie Preston
Exploration of Psychopathology in Clinical Science (EPICS) Lab
Faculty: Patricia Deldin
Human Brain Electrophysiology Lab
Faculty: Bill Gehring
Judgment and Decision Making Lab
Faculty: Frank Yates
Language & Cognitive Architecture Lab
Faculty: Richard Lewis
Linguistics Research Labs
Mind, Machine, and Math (M3) Laboratory
Faculty: Jun Zhang
Multisensory Perception Lab
Faculty: David Brang
Faculty: Julie Boland
Psychology Research Labs
You may also find the Psychology Department's research resources helpful when considering research.
Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program
The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) creates research partnerships between undergraduate students and University of Michigan researchers. All schools and colleges are active participants in UROP, which provides a wealth of interesting research topics for program participants.
Learn more about the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program
Research Profile: Sean Anderson
Feb. 11, 2019
As a junior majoring in cognitive science (computation track), Sean Anderson is interested in machine learning, cognition, and cognitive neuroscience. Last year, Sean had his first opportunity to explore these topics from a research perspective.
With scholarship support from the Weinberg Institute, Sean worked as a Research Assistant in U-M’s Cognition, Control, and Action Lab. The experience was invaluable, says Sean, and helped refine his academic and research path:
"Working in the lab gave me the chance to see what goes on in science behind the scenes--reading what someone else did, throwing ideas back and forth, and building something to show an assumption is not quite right. And that made me want to do it that much more."
Musicians and Athletes
In the lab, Sean assisted in analyzing data and later helped conduct lab experiments. The research explored the cognitive control processes at work when a person--such as a musician or an athlete--is under stress to perform at a high level. While exerting “goal-directed cognitive control” is generally beneficial in handling day-to-day activities, this strategy can backfire in high-pressure situations when thinking too much about a well-learned action sabotages its execution.
“Imagine training for a sport like baseball pitching,” explains Sean. “You could mentally focus on your pitching arm or the ball speeding across home plate. All the literature so far says that focusing on the latter is better, but we don’t really know how or why. Our experiment was exciting because it gave us a chance to take a deeper look into why external focus is better.”
fMRI in the Lab
In the lab experiment, Sean worked with a colleague to design and develop a task using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that tested the effects of attentional focus on motor learning--a task with complex criteria.
“In the fMRIi machine, you have to remain motionless,” explains Sean. “It’s also sensitive to magnets; that’s how it computes. So you can’t use electricity. All we had to work with were grip-force sensors. When you squeeze, it measures the pressure of your grip. Our goal was to come up with a task that used these sensors to draw out attentional effects on learning and focus. So we asked subjects to play essentially a short video-game while inside the scanner.”
As a musician who plays the French Horn, Sean foresees many applications for this type of cognitive science research. As he explains it: “Where should musicians focus most while they’re practicing? What’s the best way for an athlete to organize their training to prepare for their ‘high-pressure’ moment?”
With his research experience continuing in a different lab and graduation ahead, Sean is looking forward to taking the next step in his academic career.
“I’d like to pursue a PhD in cognition and cognitive neuroscience,” says Sean, “and understand how computation, in both biological and artificial forms, can power creativity, learning, and performance.”