Cognitive Mechanics Lab

Welcome to the cognitive mechanics lab at UC Merced!  We study cognition from a perspective analogous to statistical mechanics: We examine the functional elements of brain, body, and environment that interact to form patterns of cognitive activity. Our work focuses on speech and language interactions across multiple levels of analysis, and also foraging as a fundamental mode of search and decision-making. Computational models in the lab focus on simple functional elements that collectively simulate cognitive functions through adaptive interactions with their environments.  

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

  • Neural:  Neurons are simple elements in small-scale interactions that give rise to larger-scale cognitive functions and their corresponding behavioral patterns. We analyze the collective dynamics of simple functional units that give rise to the flexibility and adaptivity of cognitive functions.

  • Computational:  We investigate and test our theories of cognitive functions through computational modeling. Our models rely on interdependent interactions across scales to explain the nested layers of patterns that are woven throughout intelligent activity. Our modeling approach stems from theories of neural networks, collective behavior, and self-organized criticality.


  • Welcome to Iván González Torre, who is visiting 2018-19 from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid on a Fulbright scholarship to work on statistical analyses of speech acoustics. Bienvenido!
  • Prof Kello is leading the UC Merced component of a California Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) alliance to increase underrepresented minority faculty in STEM.
  • 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 our 3rd Meeting of the UC Merced National Research Traineeship in Intelligent Adaptive Systems, held in Santa Cruz