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Brittany Alperin's Lab

Lab Description

While we have the capacity to focus our attention on the world around us, we also often find that our attention shifts to internally focused task-unrelated topics. While sitting in class, what are you thinking about? Is it the content of the lecture? Is it the plans you have with friends later? Is it that test you just took? Are you aware of what you’re thinking about? Are you thinking about a lot of things or just a few things? Are they positive thoughts? Negative? Do these thoughts help you? Do they harm you? Where, when, and how our minds wander is unclear and what topics our attention shifts to is incredibly variable across individuals. Sometimes this process is adaptive and beneficial, sometimes it’s inconsequential, and sometimes it is detrimental. 

Together, the members of the Thought and Emotion Lab investigate spontaneous thought and how the contents of the idle mind relate to mental health and well-being.  

Current research questions include:

  1. What qualities of thought are related to both beneficial and maladaptive aspects of mental health and functional well-being?
  2. What are the mechanisms driving aspects of spontaneous thought?
  3. In understanding the phenomenology of thought, can we design interventions to alter thought content and patterns in order to promote human flourishing? 

To answer these questions, we use self-report methods (asking people what they are thinking about), cognitive methods (assessing performance on cognitive tasks), and neuroscientific methods (using non-invasive electrophysiology to record electrical potentials given off by the brain). 

Have questions? Interested in working in the lab? Feel free to contact Dr. Alperin in person (Richmond Hall G-06) or via e-mail.