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.


  • Welcome to Adolfo Ramirez, Daniel Schloesser, and Sara Schneider! They are all joining the lab this Fall as Ph.D. students in Cognitive and Information Sciences.
  • Congrats to Bryan Kerster for successfully defending his dissertation! Bryan was accepted to the Insight Data Science Fellows program, and then landed a job at Facebook right afterwards. Well done!
  • Congrats to Drew Abney for successfully defending his dissertation! And best wishes on his postdoctral fellowship working with Chen Yu and Linda Smith at Indiana University.
  • Congrats to Bryan Kerster for publishing part of his dissertation as an article entitled "Spatial memory in foraging games" in the journal Cognition.
  • In August 2015, Dr. Kello received a Google Faculty Research Award for his work on generating speech using critical branching networks.
  • 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