Jason Watson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Cognition and Neural Science | CNS

Contact Information

Office: 1034 BEHS
Phone: (801) 581-5040

Research Interests

Three of the most fundamental questions in Cognitive Science are concerned
with (1) how people read words, (2) how people remember events, and
(3) how people stay "on task" by minimizing the influence of potentially
distracting information. Although there have been several important
findings in these three areas of research, there have been very few
attempts to bridge the gaps in knowledge accumulated thus far on word
recognition, memory, and cognitive control. Yet there must be a fundamental
(and perhaps synergistic) relationship among these three cognitive

The goal of my research is to bridge the scientific work conducted
thus far on reading, remembering, and cognitive control in an attempt
to gain a richer understanding of brain-behavior relations. To accomplish
this goal, I am pursuing several converging lines of research in my
Cognitive Science Lab at The University of Utah including but not
limited to: (1) behavioral studies of individual differences in cognitive
control in young adults that may mediate susceptibility to associative
memory illusions, (2) functional neuroimaging studies of individual
and age differences in reading, remembering, and cognitive control
(3) and other large scale behavioral and neuroimaging studies that
systematically compare the influence of lexical variables like frequency,
concreteness, and spelling-to-sound correspondence on reading and
memory performance.

Given the inter-disciplinary nature of Cognitive Science, in my lab,
we employ a variety of methods from Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive
Neuroscience, and Neuropsychology to gain leverage in answering empirical
questions about brain-behavior relations. For example, to investigate
reading, remembering, and cognitive control, we (1) may measure reaction
times using naming and lexical decision tasks, (2) may measure memory
using free recall and episodic recognition tasks, (3) may conduct
cross-population studies with healthy old adults or neuropsychological
participants like Alzheimer's patients, and (4) may use functional
neuroimaging techniques to determine the underlying neural correlates
of a hypothesized cognitive process.

For additional information about my research interests, ongoing research
projects, and preferred research techniques, please contact me via
by phone (801-581-5040), or refer to my Cognitive
Science Lab website
. Thank you!

Opportunities For Students

I am interested in admitting new graduate students for the 2011-2012 academic year, with applications due this Fall, 2010. Graduate students who work with me in my lab typically have interests related to executive attention (see my research interests above). Prior research experience with strong letters of recommendation is desired, though not strictly required. I encourage prospective students to contact me via email ( and to visit my Cognitive Science Lab webpage for additional information about lab personnel and current research projects. In addition, I am always interested in working with dedicated and thoughtful undergraduate students who are looking to gain valuable research experience on attention, memory, and aging.


Ph.D., Washington University (Experimental Psychology, 2001)
M.S., Washington University (Experimental Psychology, 2000)
B.A., University of Arkansas (Psychology, 1995)

Selected Publications

Watson, J.M., Bunting, M.F., Poole, B.J., & Conway, A.R.A. (2005). Individual
differences in susceptibility to false memory in the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 31, 76-85. Download

Chan, J.C.K., McDermott, K.B., Watson, J.M., & Gallo, D.A. (2005). The importance of material-processing interactions in inducing false memories. Memory & Cognition, 33, 389-395. Download

Baciu, M.V., Watson, J.M., Maccotta, L., McDermott, K.B., Buckner, R.L., Gilliam,
F.G., & Ojemann, J.G. (2005). Evaluating functional MRI procedures for assessing hemispheric language dominance in neurosurgical patients. Neuroradiology, 47, 835-844. Download

Watson, J.M., McDermott, K.B., & Balota, D.A. (2004). Attempting to avoid false
memories in the Deese/Roediger-McDermott paradigm: Assessing the
combined influence of practice and warnings in young and old adults. Memory & Cognition, 32, 135-141. Download

Moritz, S., Woodward, T.S., Cuttler, C., Whitman, J., & Watson, J.M. (2004). False
memories in schizophrenia. Neuropsychology, 18, 276-283. Download

Cortese, M.J., Watson, J.M., Wang, J., & Fugett, A. (2004). Relating distinctive
orthographic and phonological processes to episodic memory performance.
Memory & Cognition, 32, 632-639. Download

Watson, J.M., Balota, D.A., & Roediger, H.L. (2003). Creating false memories with hybrid lists of semantic and phonological associates: Over-additive false
memories produced by converging associative networks. Journal of Memory and Language, 49, 95-118. Download

My current graduate students

Eve Miller