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Computational Cognitive and Neural Sciences Lab

We study the mechanisms that enable people to make adaptive decisions and pursue their goals. We approach these questions using an integrative approach across cognitive psychology, statistical learning, and neuroscience.

Join our team!

We are recruiting graduate students for the Fall 2024 application cycle with an interest in computational modeling and/or neuroimaging. Students will join our Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience Area at UCR. Please reach out to Dr. Ballard

What do we study?

Goal-Directed Behavior

How do we decide which goals to pursue? What determines whether we are successful in achieving them? We approach these questions by examining how rewards and motivation influence the selection and pursuit of goals.

Learning and Memory

How do we learn the relationships that organize our environments? How do we use feedback to update our beliefs and adapt our plans? We address these questions by studying the interactions between memory and goal-directed behavior.

Habits of mind

Why do we get stuck in certain patterns of thought or maladaptive behaviors? How can we weaken these bad habits and more effectively learn good ones? What role do habits play in anxiety and anxiety disorders? 

Research Methods



We use functional magnetic resonance imaging to understand how the organization of the brain gives rise to behavior.


Computational Models

We use computational modeling to formalize the predictions of our theories and to bridge between mind, brain and behavior.


Causal interventions

We use causal tools, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, pharmacology, and studies of patients with brain lesions, to test and refine our neurocognitive models.

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