Cognition and Emotion Lab

Welcome to the Cognition & Emotion Lab at the University of Calgary

Research in the Cognition & Emotion Lab examines individual differences in cognition, attention, and memory that are associated with mood and anxiety disorders, aging, and body image and eating disturbances. One focus of our research is the effects of experimentally induced moods on attention and memory for emotional information (an NSERC-supported research program). We use eye gaze tracking in many of our studies to determine how people distribute their attention to emotional images over extended intervals when multiple images compete for attention. Another focus of our research is attention and memory in depressed individuals and individuals vulnerable to depression.(e.g., Sears, Newman, Ference, & Thomas, 2011; Newman & Sears, 2015; Soltani, Newman, Quigley, Fernandez, Dobson, & Sears, 2015).

Other studies have examined cognitive distortions and information processing biases associated with dysphoria and depression, especially effects of depression and depressed mood on the interpretation of ambiguity (e.g., Bisson & Sears, 2007; Sears, Bisson, & Nielsen, 2010; Stea, Lee, & Sears 2013). We have also examined attention to threat in PTSD (Thomas, Goegan, Newman, Arndt, & Sears, 2013), attentional control in anxiety (Wright, Dobson, & Sears, 2014), and attentional biases to food in binge eating disorder (Popien, Frayn, von Ranson, & Sears, 2015) and in individuals with food addiction (Frayn, Sears, & von Ranson, 2016). The lab is part of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences graduate program in the Department of Psychology.

The University of Calgary is ranked as one of Canada’s top universities. More than 30,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs, including medicine, law, and veterinary medicine. Click here for more information. The Department of Psychology consists of 40 faculty members, with more than 80 graduate students pursuing MSc and PhD degrees. Information on financial support for graduate students can be found here.

Research in the Cognition and Emotion Lab has been funded by a variety of agencies, including grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions (AIHS), Alberta Gambling Research Institute (AGRI), and the University of Calgary Research Grants Committee. Graduate students in the lab have won major scholarships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), CIHR, AIHS, AGRI, and NSERC.

We are located in the Administration Building (Admin 06) and can be reached at 403-220-4667. Click here for a map of the campus. If you would like to participate in one of our studies, volunteer as a research assistant (for PSYC 499), or learn about honours thesis supervision and graduate student opportunities, please contact Dr. Sears on the People page above.