Areas of expertise/Research interests
- cognitive control
- executive function
- individual differences
- organization of lateral prefrontal cortex
- role of anterior PFC in subgoal processing
- reward processing
Professional work synopsis
My research is focused on understanding how people perform goal-directed behaviors, such as writing a paper or studying for an exam.
While it is generally agreed that the prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays a critical role in these behaviors, the precise mechanisms by which PFC accomplishes this role are less well understood. I use behavioral, neuroimaging and computational methods to characterize the way in which different areas of PFC contribute to the performance of goal-directed behaviors in terms of general, biologically plausible processes.
One hypothesis guiding my research is that different cognitive strategies may be associated with the same underlying neurobiological processes and mechanisms but differ in terms of the order in which those processes and mechanisms are recruited. Several current studies are investigating this hypothesis using neural network models and fMRI to determine whether similar cognitive control strategies are recruited across multiple tasks, and whether an individual's selection of strategy is associated with other cognitive abilities such as fluid intelligence, or working memory span.
A particular focus of my current research is on understanding the differences between anterior PFC (aPFC) and lateral PFC. The functional organization of PFC is a critical question remaining in the field of cognitive neuroscience and there are many competing hypotheses regarding the dimensions that underlie its organization.
Current studies use convergent cognitive neuroscience methods to determine whether aPFC subserves the general maintenance of high-level goal information in working memory, while other subgoal-related information is processed by more posterior areas of lateral PFC.
- PhD, psychology, Washington University in St. Louis
- MA, psychology, Washington University in St. Louis
- BS, applied psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology
- Frank, G. K., Reynolds, J. R., Shott, M. E., Jappe, L., Yang, T. T., Tregellas, J. R. & O'Reilly, R. C. (in press). "Anorexia Nervosa and Obesity are Associated with Opposite Brain Reward Response." Neuropsychopharmacology.
- Reynolds, J. R., O'Reilly, R. C., Cohen, J. D., & Braver, T. S. (2012). "The Function and Organization of Lateral Prefrontal Cortex: A Test of Competing Hypotheses." (S. Gilbert, Ed.) PLoS ONE, 7(2), e30284. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030284.t002
- Frank, G. K., Reynolds, J. R., Shott, M. E., & O'Reilly, R. C. (2011). "Altered Temporal Difference Learning in Bulimia Nervosa." Biological Psychiatry, 70(8), 728-735. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.05.011