Lara L. Jones, Ph.D.
Wayne State University

Concepts & Cognition Lab
4809 Woodward Ave. (Simons Bldg., 3rd floor)  Click here to find on campus map.

Welcome to the Concepts and Cognition Lab!  Most of our ongoing research projects investigate the links or relations between concepts, which form the basis of language comprehension. For example, presentation of a given concept (DOG) increases the accessibility of other directly related concepts (CAT, PUPPY, FOX, LEASH, BONE, COLLAR) and even indirectly related concepts (mouse). We use a variety of word recognition and other tasks to measure the increased activation of these related concepts. We are particularly interested in factors influencing relational integration, or the combining of two concepts (MOUNTAIN and GOAT) by the inference of a plausible relation between the two (a MOUNTAIN GOAT is a GOAT that lives on a MOUNTAIN). In addition to this habitat relation, words can also be connected by a composition relation (STRAW HAT), a locative relation (ISLAND HOUSE), or an instrumental relation (WIND KITE; wind is needed in order to fly a kite), to name just a few.

Photo taken by LLJ on July 12th, 2011

A related area of research is the inference and transfer of relations in verbal analogy and other relational reasoning tasks. For example, the analogy LEATHER : SADDLE :: GOLD : _____, can be solved by detecting the relation in the first pair (composition; a saddle is made of leather) and then applying it to the second pair to aid in the selection of the correct answer (shown in bold) from a list of competing alternatives (SILVER, RICH, DIAMOND, EARRING, METAL). Our lab investigates individual differences in the ability to focus attention on the analogical relation while resisting interference from semantically more associated alternatives. We also are interested in individual differences such as creativity and working memory that may affect this process of relational transfer.


PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR:  Lara L. Jones, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology. CV 

GRADUATE STUDENTS:  (All are currently doctoral students in the Cognitive, Developmental, Social Psychology Program Area.) 
  • A. Michelle Wright, MS, doctoral candidate. Her interests include individual differences in autobiographical memory and achievement motivation.  

Michelle at the Psychonomic Society Annual Mtg. in Toronto, November 2013
  • Jessica L. Irwin, MS, doctoral candidate. She is part of the research team for the Individual Differences in Verbal Analogy project and presented the research investigating the role of autistic traits in analogical and relational reasoning at the Cognitive Science conference in July 2014. 

Jessica at the Cognitive Science Annual Mtg. in Quebec City, July 2014

  • Nicholas Tomasi, BS, has been part of the lab since August 2012. His main areas of interest include neuropsychology and health psychology with some focus on cognitive processing. He graduated from Wayne State University in May 2014 with Honors in Psychology and plans to attend medical school where he intends to pursue a degree as a neurologist. 

  • Ryan Calcaterra, BS, joined the lab in January 2013. He graduated from Wayne State University in August 2014 with Honors in Psychology. His research interests include semantic and integrative priming, conceptual combination, working memory, and self-perception in interpersonal relationships. Ryan plans to apply to doctoral psychology programs with the goal of having a tenure track position at a research university. 
  • Diksha Ratnam has worked in the lab since June 2014. She is a 3rd year pre-medical student with a major in Psychology and minor in Biological Sciences. Diksha is interested in the connection between physical and mental health. Her goal is to go to medical school and pursue a specialty in Pediatrics.  
  • Brad Everhart joined the lab in August 2014. He is interested in the many internal and external variables that influence the way we make our decisions. He is also interested generally in behavioral irrationality and the factors which elicit it. His honors thesis is on risk seeking versus risk aversive behavior following a loss in poker.
  • Karen Scofield, BA, joined the lab in August 2014. She graduated from Wayne State University in May 2014 with Honors in Psychology and plans to obtain her doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She is ultimately interested in child and adolescent psychopathology. More specifically, her interests include familial, cognitive, and other factors related to developmental outcomes. 

RESEARCH ASSISTANT ALUMNI (last known current graduate program or place of employment):

  • Nicole Atkins (Teach in Thailand program)
  • Michelle Bryant (Medical School, Wayne State University)
  • Neondra Burrell
  • Nick DuFour
  • Alegra Devour (Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Wayne State University)
  • Linda Fakhouri
  • Amalia Hrin
  • Joshua Kutchen (Human Resources and Labor Relations Masters Program, Michigan State Univ.)
  • Allen Kadado (Medical School, Wayne State University)
  • Sarah Kazem
  • Ashley Kiel (Children's Hospital of Michigan Autism Center)
  • Angelic Ledford
  • Cherry Meyer (Linguistics PhD Program, University of Chicago)
  • Melissa Provenzano
  • Mai Sedki (Medical School, Wayne State University)
  • Ferrari Serrette (MA Program - graduated 2014, Michigan School of Professional Psychology)
  • Paul Thomas
  • Kathy Womacke
  • Justina Yohannan (School Psychology Program, Univ. of Mass. - Boston