Research Labs

Students are strongly encouraged to pursue opportunities for research or community-based practicum experiences that complement their regular course work and that connect academic learning with practical applications. Many students work in professors’ labs though advanced methodology courses where they are provided with opportunities for learning how to conduct research in each subfield of psychology.

Memory Dynamics Lab

Principal Investigator: Justin Hulbert

The Memory Dynamics Lab, part of the Psychology Program at Bard College, works to harness the mechanisms responsible for adaptively retrieving, consolidating, and forgetting memories through cognitive neuroscience (including the study of human brainwaves and behavior while awake and asleep). In doing so, we aim to distill and disseminate strategies designed to help learners capitalize on these mental operations, allowing them to better remember when/what they want to remember and forget when/what they want to forget. Visit the lab website here.

Bard Attention and Performance Lab

Principal Investigator: Tom Hutcheon

An important challenge for cognitive psychology is to understand how information processing is biased in service of goal-directed behavior. Sitting on a public bus, you are immediately reminded of the variety of stimuli confronting you at any one time: the sound of people talking, the sight of cars passing by, the smell of the person next to you.  Now imagine you decide to read a newspaper on that bus.  The conversation, the cars, and the person next to you are now irrelevant sources of information, and the newspaper is now the relevant source of information.

Reading on the bus demonstrates a fundamental function of so-called “cognitive control”: the biasing of information processing in the service of internally generated goals.  As everyone has experienced, the efficiency of cognitive control varies. At times we find it easy to sit down at our computers and work on a paper. At other times we end up checking our email every three minutes. What causes this variability in performance? Broadly, research in our lab seeks to understand the factors that influence the efficiency of cognitive control and how these are influenced by healthy aging. Visit the lab website here.

Social Psychology Lab

Principal Investigator: Kristin Lane

The Social Psychology Lab is a group of faculty and students who meet regularly to discuss current research and ongoing projects in Social Psychology. The lab has a particular focus on implicit social cognition – the study of attitudes, identities and beliefs that exist outside of conscious awareness yet influence behavior in unintentional and automatic ways. We investigate the fundamental ways in which such cognitions operate: how do they form, and how are they connected? At the same time, we are interested in ways in which such cognitions operate in the real world, and how an understanding of them can be applied to domains outside of the lab. Visit the lab website here.

Developmental Psychology Lab

Principal Investigator: Sarah Dunphy-Lelii

The Developmental Psychology Lab at Bard College studies the social-cognitive thinking of preschool-aged children. Children between the ages of 2 and 6 come to our laboratory to participate in studies designed to test their understanding of other people’s thinking, their memory, their self-knowledge, and their perspective-taking. These studies are designed to be fun and interesting to children, and undergraduate participants in the lab will work closely with participating children (and their families) to implement existing research protocols, design new and creative protocols targeting these developing skills, and network in the community to broaden our recruitment base of participating families. Visit the lab website here.

Neuroscience Lab

Principal Investigator: Frank Scalzo

The Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory consists of three laboratories devoted to the housing of zebrafish (Danio rerio) and the behavioral testing of adult and larval zebrafish. The facility contains a bench-top Aquatic Habitats fish housing system as well as several standard aquariums capable of housing several hundred fish. The behavioral testing areas are equipped with a SMART automatic tracking system to monitor adult and larval swimming behavior. The laboratories also have capabilities to measure various types of learning and memory tasks, including a plus-maze and t-maze with an enriched chamber. The Behavioral Neuroscience laboratory, together with facilities housed within the Biology Program in Reem Kayden Center for Science and Computation (RKC), have the capabilities for genetic and molecular studies of brain and behavior. The facilities in RKC include an Aquatic Habitats fish housing system, a microinjection system for injection substances, including morpholinos, into newly fertilized zebrafish eggs. Together, these resources allow for studies ranging from gene regulation across the spectrum to behavior.

Affective Science Lab

Principal Investigator: Justin Dainer-Best

The Affective Science Lab (link) uses clinical research methods to identify the factors behind mood disorders. Much of the research in the lab takes place online, using behavioral tasks and surveys to understand the spectrum of mood, its relationship to thoughts about oneself, and how these relate to disordered mood. Other lab research involves more in-depth assessment in our lab in Preston Hall.

The Regulation of Everyday Affect, Craving, and Health (REACH) Lab

Principal Investigator: Richard Lopez

The Regulation of Everyday Affect, Craving, and Health (REACH) Lab at Bard asks questions like: how can we better understand cravings and emotions—as we actually experience them in our daily lives? How do our personal goals and motivations influence the extent to which we keep our desires and feelings in check? And, last but not least, what are the downstream impacts of self-regulation (or lack thereof) on health and wellbeing? The REACH Lab uses a variety of assessment tools from experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience, frequently combining multiple methods (e.g., behavioral tasks, fMRI, experience sampling) to identify psychological mechanisms involved in self-regulatory processes and how those processes drive behavior.