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Melissa Ferguson, PhD

Faculty Member

Center for Neurocognition and Behavior

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Implicit social cognition

Our memories are the basis for our judgments and feelings about stimuli in the world. But how do new kinds of learning and new experiences alter our memories? This question is especially important for understanding our implicit memories. Implicit memories are those that are activated spontaneously and rapidly whenever we perceive the corresponding stimuli, and may shape and influence cognition and behavior. Although most research suggests that implicit memories can be hard to update, our lab has been studying the ways in which we can effectively change our implicit memories of individuals and groups. Using learning theories and experimental studies with adult humans, we have identified some circumstances in which implicit memories can be changed in a lasting and robust way. Some of our work is about how we change our memories of other individuals, based on faces and behaviors. We also examine how people form and update implicit memories about many other kinds of stimuli such as groups, artwork, morality, goal pursuit, and robots. We are a social cognitive experimental lab that is interested in human evaluative processes, and have ongoing collaborations with social and cognitive psychologists and social neuroscientists.