Welcome to the Metacognition and Memory Lab at Columbia University  

Robert Bjork

Robert A. Bjork (Ph.D., Stanford University; B.A., Minnesota) is Distinguished Professor and Chair of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. His research focuses on human learning and memory and on the implications of the science of learning for instruction and training. He has served as Editor of Memory & Cognition (1981-85); Editor of Psychological Review (1995-2000); Co-editor of Psychological Science in the Public Interest (1998-2004), and Chair of a National Research Council Committee on Techniques for the Enhancement of Human Performance (1988-94). His positions of leadership include President of the American Psychological Society (APS); President of the Western Psychological Association; Chair of the Psychonomic Society; Chair of the Society of Experimental Psychologists; and Chair of the Council of Editors of the American Psychological Association (APA). He is currently Chair-elect of the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology. He is a fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Society. He is a recipient of UCLA's Distinguished Teaching Award; APA's Distinguished Scientist Lecturer Award; and APA's Distinguished Service to Psychological Science Award.

Metcalfe, J. & Bjork, R.A. (1991). Composite models never (well, hardly ever) compromise: Comment on Schooler & Tanaka (1991). Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 120, 203-210.


Stephanie Cosentino

Metacognition in Alzheimer's Disease: Disordered awareness of cognitive deficits is a striking yet variable symptom of early Alzheimer's disease (AD). Two patients with comparable memory loss may demonstrate vastly different levels of awareness regarding such impairment. The etiology, clinical correlates, and prognostic value of metacognitive disturbance are unclear, in part due to variable and subjective measurement of "awareness" across studies. I am developing an objective metacognitive task for implementation in patients with AD in an effort to deconstruct the construct of awareness into identifiable cognitive components. Ultimately, objective measurement of metacognitive abilities may facilitate investigation of disordered awareness as it relates to prognosis, neuropsychological profile, neuropathological distribution, psychiatric symptoms, and clinical course.

Cosentino, S.A., Metcalfe, J., Butterfield, B., & Stern, Y. (2007). Objective Metamemory testing captures awareness of deficit in Alzheimer's Disease. Cortex, 43, 1004-1019.


John Dunlosky

Areas of research interest involve self-regulated learning, including how aging in adulthood influences strategy use and effectiveness, how individuals of all ages monitor on-going learning as well as dynamically control study and retrieval. Research programs focus on understanding the theoretical bases of these and other components of self-regulated learning. Special emphasis is placed on how aging in adulthood influences these components, and applications of this theory to enhance learning of adults of all ages.

Dunlosky, J., & Metcalfe, J. (2008). Metacognition. Sage Publications, Inc.


Bridgid Finn

Currently, my research investigates the inaccuracies in metacognitive judgments and how these inaccuracies influence subsequent behavior such as learning behavior. People are typically overconfident when making metacognitive judgments about the probability of correctly retrieving a target during a cued recall test. These judgments are overconfident only during the first study-judgment-test trial and shift towards underconfidence during following trials. My studies indicate that the underconfidence effect may be due to memory of one’s item-specific performance on the preceding trial, and a failure to adequately take into account new current-trial learning.


Carl Hart

The work in my lab is characterized by a commitment to understanding complex interactions between drugs of abuse and the neurobiology and environmental factors that mediate human behavior and physiology. One core aspect of my research program is to understand basic biobehavioral effects produced by amphetamine analogs (d-amphetamine, methamphetamine, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine: MDMA or ecstasy) because this information might provide clues about the specific role of monoamine neurotransmitters in mediating various behaviors.

Kirkpatrick, M., Metcalfe, J., Greene, M., & Hart, C. (2008). Effects of intranasal methamphetamine on metacognition of agency. Psychopharmacology, 197, 137-144.


Nate Kornell

My research involves three main themes: cognitive principles that enhance learning, memory monitoring, and study decisions. From a theoretical perspective, my work involves examining basic issues related to each theme, plus the relationship between the three themes. From an applied perspective, the central goal of my research is to identify efficient and effective ways for students to study.

Metcalfe, J., & Kornell, N. (2007). Principles of cognitive science in education: The effects of generation, errors and feedback.Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 14, 225-229.

Metcalfe, J., Kornell, N., & Son, L. K. (2007). A cognitive-science based program to enhance study efficacy in a high and low-risk setting. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 19 , 743-768.

Kornell, N., & Metcalfe, J. (2006a). Study efficacy and the region of proximal learning framework. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32, 609-622.

Kornell, N., & Metcalfe, J. (2006b). Blockers do not block recall in tip-of-the-tongue states. Metacognition and Learning, 1, 248-261.

Metcalfe, J., & Kornell, N. (2005). A region of proximal learning model of study time allocation. Journal of Memory and Language, 52, 463-477.

Metcalfe, J. & Kornell, N. (2003). The dynamics of learning and allocation of study time to a region of proximal learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 132, 530-542.


Henry L. Roediger, III

My research is concerned with retrieval processes in human memory, or how knowledge is recovered from memory. My present lines of investigation are the application of cognitive psychology to enhance education, the genesis of false memories, dissociations between implicit and explicit measures of retention


Lisa Son

I am an assistant professor in the Psychology Department at Barnard College. In the past, I have worked extensively with Janet Metcalfe and Herb Terrace to investigate metacognitive abilities in non-human primates. I have also worked on a series of experiments, with children of different ages, to study the development of metacognitive skills, in an attempt to improve study and learning techniques adopted by both students and instructors.

Metcalfe, J., Kornell, N., & Son, L. K. (2007). A cognitive-science based program to enhance study efficacy in a high and low-risk setting. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 19 , 743-768.

Son, L. K., & Metcalfe, J. (2005). Judgments of learning: Evidence for a two-stage model. Memory and Cognition, 33, 1116-1129.

Son, L. K. & Metcalfe, J. (2000). Metacognitive and control strategies in study-time allocation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 26, 204-221.


Bennet Schwartz

Schwartz's research areas include metacognition, human and non-human memory. In particular, ongoing projects include research on the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon and episodic memory in great apes. He recently published the book "Tip-of-the-tongue states: Phenomenology, mechanism, and lexical retrieval." Dr. Schwartz teaches the following courses: Cognitive Processes, Memory and Memory improvement, Neuropsychology, and Introductory Psychology.

Schwartz, B.L., & Metcalfe, J. (1994). Methodological problems and pitfalls in the study of human metacognition. In J. Metcalfe and A.P. Shimamura (Eds.) Metacognition: Knowing about knowing (pp. 93-113). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Metcalfe., J., Schwartz, B. L. & Joaquim, S. G. (1993). The cue-familiarity heuristic in metacognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 19, 851-861.

Schwartz, B. L., & Metcalfe, J. (1992). Cue familiarity but not target retrievability enhances feeling-of-knowing judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition., 18, 1074-1083.


Michael Serra

My research centers around academic learning and studying. My main area of interest is metacognition and how it relates to one's learning. I have focused on learners' confidence in their memory (specifically, judgments of learning, or JOLs) and possible sources of bias that can cause these judgments to be inaccurate. I am currently following up on this latter question by exploring how learners make their metacognitive judgments and how these judgments may be influenced by metacognitive knowledge (i.e. knowledge about cognitive processes that is factored into metacognitive judgments).

Serra, M. J., & Metcalfe, J. (2008). Effective implementation of metacognition. In A. Graesser, D. Hacker, & J. Dunlosky (Eds.), Handbook of Metacognition and Education Vol. [2] . Lawrence Erlbaum.


Ed Smith

Implicit category learning: Is it possible to learn new categories and concepts with no awareness of doing so, and no intact hippocampus to mediate the learning?
We are testing early-Alzheimer's patients in a situation in which a sequence of related items is presented, and the patient is simply told to look at the items; later the patient is told that the items in fact belong to a category. To determine whether the patient implicitly learned the category, he or she is then asked to decide whether each of a series of test items in fact belongs to the category. If AD patients can reliably make these judgments, they have the capacity for implicit learning, and they may be taught new material via this system.

Placebo effects
In recent work we have demonstrated that when a placebo is administered to a person in pain, not only does the person report less pain, but there is also a reduction of neural activity in the pain centers of the brain. We are now asking how this neural placebo effect compares to the effect of a real analgesic. We are using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to image volunteers who are experiencing heat pain, under the influence of either a placebo injection or an injection of an opiod-based analgesic.


Herb Terrace

The general focus of my research is the evolution of intelligence with specific emphasis on cognitive processes that do not require language. In my primate cognition lab, I have trained rhesus monkeys to learn various serial tasks involving arbitrary and numerical stimuli. For example, I have shown how monkeys can become expert at learning rote lists similar to those we perform daily when dialing a phone number or entering a password. Instead of responding to Arabic numerals the monkeys respond to photographs displayed on a touch sensitive video monitor.

I also study how monkeys learn ascending and descending numerical sequences (e.g., 1-2-3-4, 4-5-6 or 6-5-4) and how they generalize their knowledge of specific numerosities to novel numerosities. In these experiments, stimuli are constructed from geometric elements and differ in the number of elements they contain.

In other experiments I study social learning in situations where a student monkey learns a new list by observing an expert perform that list. More recently, I have applied a similar paradigm to study cognitive imitation in autistic children. Taken together, these experiments show that many complex skills can be performed without language and provide a basis for understanding what language adds to those skills.

Terrace, H. S., & Metcalfe, J. (2005)The missing link in cognition: Origins of self-reflective consciousness. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.


Tor Wager

My primary research interest is in the neural and psychological bases of cognitive and affective control. My research quantifies behavioral performance and brain activity--measured primarily using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)--to investigate the neural mechanisms by which humans have flexible control over their behavior. This approach emphasizes the mutual constraints on interpretation afforded by studying behavior and functional anatomy at the same time. My main research interests along those lines are the mechanisms of emotion and affect regulation, the relationship between affective regulation and cognitive control, and the relationships among various hypothesized cognitive control processes, such as selective attention, inhibition and task switching.

An important related goal is to begin collaborative efforts that combine fMRI and behavioral studies with other human neuroscience methodologies, including TMS, neuropsychology, PET ligand binding, and ERP/EEG techniques.

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