Edward E. Smith

Edward E. Smith

William B. Ransford Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology, Columbia University
402B Schemerhorn Hall

William B. Ransford Professor of Psychology (in Psychiatry),
Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University
Chief of Division of Cognitive Neuroscience,
NY State Psychiatric Institute
5911A Psychiatric Institute

Professor Smith's research interests focus on: (a) working memory; (b) cognitive control, particularly attention and inhibition; (c) semantic memory; and (d) disruptions of these systems in psychiatric disorders.
Professional Activities and Honors
1984 Invited to Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences
1986 Elected to the Society of Experimental Psychologists
1982-1987 Elected to Governing Board, Cognitive Science Society; Elected Chair 1986-87
1987-1992 Elected to Governing Board, Psychonomic Society; Elected Chair 1992
1992-1993 Guggenhiem Fellow
1993-1994 Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award, University of Michigan
1994 Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1995-2001 Advisory Board, McDonnell-Pew Foundation
1996 Named Arthur W. Melton Chair in Psychology
1996 Elected to National Academy of Sciences
1997 APA Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award
1998 Distinguished Alumnus Award, Brooklyn College
1999 APS William James Fellow Award for Distinguished Scientific Achievement
1999 Tenth Annual Barrett Neuroscience Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan
1999 Distinguished University Professor, University of Michigan
2004 Named William B. Ransford Professor of Psychology, Columbia University
2008 Appointed Chief of Division of Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychiatric Institute

Current and future Directions

Working Memory

One of our long-term interests is working memory, the system that maintains information in an active state, and that guides conscious thought. For over fifteen years, we have been using neuroimaging methods (Positron Emission Tomography, PET, and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, fMRI) to study the neural bases of the components of working memory. Our earlier work identified different subsystems for verbal, spatial, and visual-object information. In current studies, we are exploring a number of issues. One concerns how the brain, in particular the prefrontal cortex, maintains information in the face of distraction. Another issue is how working memory is compromised in major psychiatric disorders like Schizophrenia, and how such impairments are related to known disturbances in the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Cognitive Control

Another major interest is cognitive- control processes, which are higher-level processes, like attention and inhibition, that people need to deal with novel or non-routineized situations. Some questions of particular interest include: are the processes that we use to selectively attend to things in the outside world the same as those we use to attend to in our inside world? Are there different cognitive-control processes for filtering out irrelevant stimuli. inhibiting information in memory, selecting among alternative responses, and inhibiting an already prepared response? Which of the preceding processes are impaired in Schizophrenia, and how do these impairments relate to the symptoms of Schizophrenia?

Semantic Memory

What is it that we "know" when we know something about a word or object? Since at least the writings of John Locke, one answer to this question has been that our knowledge is very tied to our perceptual and motor experience. Recent neuroimaging studies of our knowledge of everyday objects and events provides some striking support for this perceptual hypothesis, as the neural areas activated when we answer questions about objects appear to be the same areas that are active when we perceive the object. But there must be abstract knowledge as well. We are using neuroimaging to study how this perceptual knowledge connects to the more abstract knowledge we have about objects and events.

Research Support

Over the years, our research has been primarily supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). We have also received support from other governmental agencies and from private foundations. Currently our work is supported by two grants from NIMH.

Selected Publications

Barch, D. M., & Smith, E. E. (2008). The cognitive neuroscience of working memory: Relevance to CNTRICS and Schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry, 64 , 11-17.

Polk, T., Drake, R., Jonides, J., Smith, M., & Smith, E. E. (2008). Attention enhances the neural processing of relevant features and suppresses the processing of irrelevant features in humans: A functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging study of the Stroop Task. Journal of Neuroscience, 28 , 13786-13792.

Smith, E. E., & Grossman, M. (2008). Multiple systems for category learning. Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, 32, 249-264.

Koenig, P., Smith, E. E., Troiani, V., Antani, S., McCawely, G., Moore, P., Cross, K., & Grossman, M. (2008). Medial Temporal Lobe Involvement in an Implicit Memory Task: Evidence of Collaborating Implicit and Explicit Memory Systems from fMRI and Alzheimer's Disease. Cerebral Cortex, 18 , 2831-2843.

Fiebach, C.J., Friederici, A.D., Smith, E.E. & Swinney, D. A. (2007). Lateral inferotemporal cortex maintains conceptual-semantic representations in verbal working memory. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 2035-2049.

Smith, E.E. & Kosslyn, S.M. (2007). Cognitive Psychology: Mind and Brain.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Wager, T., Rilling, J.K., Smith, E.E., Sokolik, A., Casey, K.L., Davidson, R.J., Kosslyn, S.M., Rose, R.M., Cohen, J.D. (2004). Placebo-induced changes in fMRI in anticipation and experience of pain. Science, 303, 1162-1167.

Nelson, J.K., Reuter-Lorenz, P.A., Sylvester, C-Y, Jonides, J., & Smith, E.E. (2003). Dissociable neural mechanisms underlying response-based and familiarity-based conflict in working memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100, 1171-1175.

Wager, T., & Smith, E.E. (2003). Neuroimaging studies of working memory: A meta-analysis. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 3 , 255-274.

Smith, E.E., Geva, A., Jonides, J., Miller, A., Reuter-Lorenz, P., and Koeppe, R.A. (2001). The neural basis of task switching in working memory: Effects of performance and aging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 98 , 2095-2100.

Smith, E.E., and Jonides, J. (1999) Storage and executive processes in the frontal lobes. Science, 283, 1657-1661.

Cohen, J.D., Perlstein, W.M., Braver, T.S., Nystrom, L.E., Noll, D.C., Jonides, J., & Smith, E.E. (1997). Temporal dynamics of brain activation during a working memory task. Nature, 386 , 604-608.

Link to SCAN lab at Columbia: http://www.scan.psych.columbia.edu/

Updated 09/08/2009