Cognitive Mechanics Lab

Welcome to the cognitive mechanics lab at UC Merced!  Our name derives from statistical mechanics, which is a branch of physics that relates microscopic interactions to their macroscopic properties and behaviors.  Our lab takes an analogous approach to cognitive systems.  We study how interactions between brain, body, and environment give rise to cognitive functions of various kinds. 

  • Behavioral:  Behaviors are macroscopic patterns that express cognitive functions like perception, attention, memory, and language. We conduct behavioral experiments to investigate the properties and principles of these patterns, with a focus on speech and search processes.

  • Neural:  Neurons are the primary elements in microscopic interactions that give rise to cognitive functions and their corresponding behavioral patterns. We analyze neural activity to investigate the flexible organization of behavioral patterns, with a focus on regulation and dynamics of spiking networks.

  • Computational:  Neural and behavioral processes can be theorized in terms of computations. We build computational models of neural interactions to simulate and test properties and principles of cognitive functions, with a focus on models of self-organization.


  • Research from the lab about speech, music, bird song, and whale song was recently covered by NPR!
  • Welcome to Ketika Garg who joined the lab as a Ph.D. student this Fall 2017! Ket is part of the NSF-funded National Research Training program in Intelligent Adaptive Systems. She will be supported in part by a Google Faculty Award to Professor Kello.
  • Congrats to Daniel Schloesser on winning the Best Student Presentation award at the Third Annual Human Movement Variability conference held at the University of Omaha in May 2017!
  • Congrats to Adolfo Ramirez-Aristizibal on winning a student travel award for his presentation at the meeting of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition held in San Diego July 2017!
  • Here's a picture from 4th biennial meeting of the Society for Complex Systems in Cognitive Science, held prior to the Cognitive Science Society meeting in Pasadena, CA