Jeffrey Zacks

Jeffrey Zacks
Washington University in St. Louis | WUSTL , Wash U · Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences

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156
Publications
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11,650
Citations

Publications

Publications (156)
Article
Full-text available
Current theories of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) propose that memory abnormalities are central to the development and persistence of symptoms. While the most notable memory disturbances in PTSD involve memory for the trauma itself, individuals often have trouble remembering aspects of everyday life. Further, people with PTSD may have diffic...
Article
Spatial navigation and spatial memory are two important skills for independent living, and are known to be compromised with age. Here, we investigate the neural correlates of successful spatial memory in healthy older adults in order to learn more about the neural underpinnings of maintenance of navigation skill into old age. Healthy older adults w...
Article
Memory-guided predictions can improve event comprehension by guiding attention and the eyes to the location where an actor is about to perform an action. But when events change, viewers may experience predictive-looking errors and need to update their memories. In two experiments ( Ns = 38 and 98), we examined the consequences of mnemonic predictiv...
Article
Perceivers spontaneously segment ongoing activity into discrete events. This segmentation is important for the moment-by-moment understanding of events, but may also be critical for how events are encoded into episodic memory. In 3 experiments, we used priming to test the possibility that perceptual event boundaries organize memory for everyday act...
Article
Life’s events are scattered throughout time, yet we often recall different events in the context of an integrated narrative. Prior research suggests that the hippocampus, which supports memory for past events, can support the integration of overlapping associations or separate events in memory. However, the conditions that lead to hippocampus-depen...
Preprint
Memory-guided predictions can improve event comprehension by guiding attention and the eyes to the location where an actor is about to perform an action. But when events change, viewers may experience predictive looking errors and need to update their memories. In two experiments (Ns = 38 and 111), we examined the consequences of mnemonic predictiv...
Article
Full-text available
When people experience everyday activities, their comprehension can be shaped by expectations that derive from similar recent experiences, which can affect the encoding of a new experience into memory. When a new experience includes changes-such as a driving route being blocked by construction-this can lead to interference in subsequent memory. One...
Article
Full-text available
Many studies suggest that information about past experience, or episodic memory, is divided into discrete units called “events.” Yet we can often remember experiences that span multiple events. Events that occur in close succession might simply be linked because of their proximity to one another, but we can also build links between events that occu...
Article
Full-text available
Memory is constructive, but that does not mean it is unreliable. When people remember the events of their lives they depend on knowledge, some of which is in the form of scripts or schemata. Schematic information encodes typical patterns in events, and for this reason schemata often contribute veridical features to memory reconstruction. This proce...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent studies have suggested that activity in the hippocampus is increased during divisions between events in memory, or event boundaries. Although hippocampal activity at event boundaries may play a role in segregating adjacent events, it might also serve a counterintuitive purpose: to bridge the divide between distant events that form a larger n...
Article
When encountering unexpected event changes, memories of relevant past experiences must be updated to form new representations. Current models of memory updating propose that people must first generate memory-based predictions to detect and register that features of the environment have changed, then encode the new event features and integrate them...
Preprint
Many studies suggest that information about past experience, or episodic memory, is divided into discrete units called “events.” Paradoxically, we can often remember experiences that span multiple events. Events that occur in close succession might simply be bridged because of their proximity to one another, but many events occur farther apart in t...
Article
Humans spontaneously organize a continuous experience into discrete events and use the learned structure of these events to generalize and organize memory. We introduce the Structured Event Memory (SEM) model of event cognition, which accounts for human abilities in event segmentation, memory, and generalization. SEM is derived from a probabilistic...
Preprint
Full-text available
When encountering new events, memories of relevant past experiences can guide expectations about what will happen. When unexpected changes occur, this can lead to prediction errors, with consequences for comprehension and subsequent memory. For example, if a supermarket's produce section were moved after one's first visit, this could generate a pre...
Article
Please cite as: Stawarczyk, D., Bezdek, M. A., & Zacks, M. J. (in press). Event representations and predictive processing: The role of the midline default network core. Topics in Cognitive Science. 2 ABSTRACT The human brain is tightly coupled to the world through its sensory-motor systems-but it also spends a lot of its metabolism talking to itsel...
Preprint
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is linked to changes in fMRI task activations and fMRI resting-state functional connectivity (restFC), which can emerge early in the timecourse of illness. Study of these fMRI correlates of unhealthy aging has been conducted in largely separate subfields. Taking inspiration from neural network simulations, we propose a unif...
Preprint
Full-text available
Humans spontaneously organize a continuous experience into discrete events and use the learned structure of these events to generalize and organize memory. We introduce the Structured Event Memory (SEM) model of event cognition, which accounts for human abilities in event segmentation, memory, and generalization. SEM is derived from a probabilistic...
Article
Human activity is structured by goals and subgoals. To understand an everyday activity, a viewer must perceive its goal structure, and viewers may segment activity into units that correspond to perceived goals. In this study, we examined age differences in the ability to perceive hierarchical goal structure in ongoing activity. A group of younger a...
Article
Full-text available
The ability to predict what is going to happen in the near future is integral for daily functioning. Previous research suggests that predictability varies over time, with increases in prediction error at those moments that people perceive as boundaries between meaningful events. These moments also tend to be points of rapid change in the environmen...
Article
We conducted two experiments to investigate how the eventfulness of everyday experiences influences people’s prospective timing ability. Specifically, we investigated whether events contained within movies of everyday activities serve as markers of time, as predicted by Event Segmentation Theory, or whether events pull attention away from the prima...
Article
When a person explores a new environment, they begin to construct a spatial representation of it. Doing so is important for navigating and remaining oriented. How does one’s ability to learn a new environment relate to one’s ability to remember experiences in that environment? Here, 208 adults experienced a first-person videotaped route, and then c...
Preprint
When a person explores a new environment, they begin to construct a spatial representation of it. Doing so is important for navigating and remaining oriented. How does one’s ability to learn a new environment relate to one’s ability to remember experiences in that environment? Here, 208 adults experienced a first-person videotaped route, and then c...
Article
Compared with younger adults, older adults have more difficulty with navigation and spatial memory in both familiar and unfamiliar domains. However, the cognitive mechanisms underlying these effects have been little explored. We examined three potential factors: (a) use of and coordination across spatial reference frames, (b) nonspatial cognitive a...
Preprint
Full-text available
The ability to predict what is going to happen in the near future is integral for daily functioning. Previous research suggests that predictability varies over time, with increases in prediction error at those moments that people perceive as boundaries between meaningful events. These moments also tend to be points of rapid change in the environmen...
Article
An important feature of action understanding is that comprehenders segment the perceptual stream into events. Event segmentation dynamically engages a network of brain regions that likely play a role in how events are encoded. Here, in a sample of older adults, we assessed the relationship between changes in brain dynamics during movie watching and...
Preprint
We conducted two experiments to investigate how the eventfulness of everyday experiences influences people’s prospective timing ability. Specifically, we investigated whether events contained within movies of everyday activities serve as markers of time, as predicted by Event Segmentation Theory, or whether events pull attention away from the prima...
Article
Full-text available
To remember everyday activity it is important to encode it effectively, and one important component of everyday activity is that it consists of events. People who segment activity into events more adaptively have better subsequent memory for that activity, and event boundaries are remembered better than event middles. The current study asked whethe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Two experiments examined adult age differences in the use of memory to comprehend changes in everyday activities. Participants viewed movies depicting an actor performing activities on two fictive days in her life. Some activities were repeated across days, other activities were repeated with a changed feature (e.g., waking up to an alarm clock or...
Article
Mental representations of everyday experience are rich, structured, and multimodal. In this article we consider the adaptive pressures that led to human construction of such representations, arguing that structured event representations enable cognitive systems to more effectively predict the trajectory of naturalistic everyday activity. We propose...
Article
Full-text available
Readers generate situation models representing described events, but the nature of these representations may differ depending on the reading goals. We assessed whether instructions to pay attention to different situational dimensions affect how individuals structure their situation models (Exp. 1) and how they update these models when situations ch...
Article
Spatial perspective taking is the ability to reason about spatial relations relative to another’s viewpoint. Here, we propose a mechanistic hypothesis that relates mental representations of one’s viewpoint to the transformations used for spatial perspective taking. We test this hypothesis using a novel behavioral paradigm that assays patterns of re...
Article
Full-text available
When people observe everyday activity, they spontaneously parse it into discrete meaningful events. Individuals who segment activity in a more normative fashion show better subsequent memory for the events. If segmenting events effectively leads to better memory, does asking people to attend to segmentation improve subsequent memory? To answer this...
Article
We aimed at using simple judgments of event segmentation to reveal cognitive problems in workers with intellectual disability regarding their assembly performance. We investigated event perception and assembly performance in 32 workers (mean IQ = 64.4). First, we assessed their ability to segment activity into meaningful events. The task involved s...
Article
Event segmentation is the parsing of ongoing activity into meaningful events. Segmenting in a normative fashion—identifying event boundaries similar to others’ boundaries—is associated with better memory for and better performance of naturalistic actions. Given this, a reasonable hypothesis is that interventions that improve memory and attention fo...
Article
Full-text available
People with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often report difficulties with attention and memory on tasks that are unrelated to their trauma. One important component of everyday event comprehension is the segmentation of ongoing activity into meaningful events. The present study asked whether PTSD symptom severity was associated with impaired s...
Article
When people inspect a picture, they progress through two distinct phases of visual processing: an ambient, or exploratory, phase that emphasizes input from peripheral vision and rapid acquisition of low-frequency information, followed by a focal phase that emphasizes central vision, salient objects, and high-frequency information. Does this qualita...
Article
Penetrating traumatic brain injury (pTBI) is associated with deficits in cognitive tasks including comprehension and memory, and also with impairments in tasks of daily living. In naturalistic settings, one important component of cognitive task performance is event segmentation, the ability to parse the ongoing stream of behavior into meaningful un...
Article
Embodied views of cognition argue that cognitive processes are influenced by bodily experience. This implies that when people make spatial judgments about human bodies, they bring to bear embodied knowledge that affects spatial reasoning performance. Here, we examined the specific contribution to spatial reasoning of visual features associated with...
Article
This article is a précis of the book Flicker: Your Brain on Movies (Zacks 2014). Flicker aims to introduce a broad readership to the psychology and neuroscience that underlies their experience in the movie theater. The book covers a range of topics, including emotional experience, adaptation from texts to films, memory and propaganda, movie violenc...
Article
Full-text available
Readers construct mental models of situations described by text. Activity in narrative text is dynamic, so readers must frequently update their situation models when dimensions of the situation change. Updating can be incremental, such that a change leads to updating just the dimension that changed, or global, such that the entire model is updated....
Article
Full-text available
The apolipoprotein E (ApOE) ε4 allele is associated with neuropathological buildup of amyloid in the brain, and with lower performance on some laboratory measures of memory in some populations. In two studies, we tested whether ApOE genotype affects memory for everyday activities. In Study 1, participants aged 20-79 years old (n = 188) watched movi...
Article
Reward motivation often enhances task performance, but the neural mechanisms underlying such cognitive enhancement remain unclear. Here, we used a multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) approach to test the hypothesis that motivation-related enhancement of cognitive control results from improved encoding and representation of task set information. Pa...
Chapter
Reading a discourse often leads to the construction of a situation model – a mental representation of the state of affairs described by the text. Situation model construction is associated with specific behavioral and neural markers. In this chapter, we consider the following questions: How does reading that involves constructing a situation model...
Chapter
At least two different types of mental spatial transformations can be used in spatial reasoning: object-based transformations—updating an object’s spatial reference frame, and perspective transformations—updating the viewer’s egocentric reference frame. Pictures of human bodies have been shown to flexibly engage these systems for different tasks, s...
Article
When does looking at an object prime actions associated with using it, and what aspects of those actions are primed? We examined whether viewing manmade objects with handles would selectively facilitate responses for the hand closest to the handle, attempting to replicate a study reported by Tucker and Ellis (1998). We also examined whether the hyp...
Article
There is a growing emphasis on examining preclinical levels of Alzheimer's disease (AD)erelated pathology in the absence of cognitive impairment. Previous work examining biomarkers has focused almost exclusively on memory, although there is mounting evidence that attention also declines early in disease progression. In the current experiment, 2 att...
Article
Recent studies of rapid resumption-an observer's ability to quickly resume a visual search after an interruption-suggest that predictions underlie visual perception. Previous studies showed that when the search display changes unpredictably after the interruption, rapid resumption disappears. This conclusion is at odds with our everyday experience,...
Chapter
Full-text available
Every waking moment, we are confronted with a continuous changing multimodal stream of information. To make sense of that information stream and to act effectively in the world, we need to reduce it to useful chunks. One important kind of chunk is an event , an integrated unit of space and time that has a beginning, middle, and end: having breakfas...
Article
Full-text available
It has been proposed that we make sense of the movements of others by observing fluctuations in the kinematic properties of their actions. At the neural level, activity in the human motion complex (hMT+) and posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) has been implicated in this relationship. However, previous neuroimaging studies have largely utiliz...
Article
Full-text available
Memory for everyday events plays a central role in tasks of daily living, autobiographical memory, and planning. Event memory depends in part on segmenting ongoing activity into meaningful units. This study examined the relationship between event segmentation and memory in a lifespan sample to answer the following question: Is the ability to segmen...
Article
Previous research has shown that readers generate mental images of events. Most studies have investigated imagery during the reading of short texts, which also included explicit judgment tasks. In two fMRI studies, we assessed whether modality-specific imagery occurs during naturalistic, discourse comprehension. We identified clauses in the texts t...
Article
Full-text available
Deficits in memory for everyday activities are common complaints among healthy and demented older adults. The medial temporal lobes and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex are both affected by aging and early-stage Alzheimer's disease, and are known to influence performance on laboratory memory tasks. We investigated whether the volume of these structur...
Article
Multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) is an increasingly popular approach for characterizing the information present in neural activity as measured by fMRI. For neuroimaging researchers, the searchlight technique serves as the most intuitively appealing means of implementing MVPA with fMRI data. However, searchlight approaches carry with them a numb...
Article
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Research investigating how people remember the distance of paths they walk has shown two apparently conflicting effects of experience during encoding on subsequent distance judgments. By the feature accumulation effect, discrete path features such as turns, houses, or other landmarks cause an increase in remembered distance. By the distractor effec...
Article
Full-text available
The objects of language and thought establish the granularity at which cognition operates. Granularity can vary with respect to taxonomic classification, time, and space. One might suppose that basic cognitive operations such as judgments of similarity or mental imagery would be invariant over these changes in scale, but this appears not to be the...
Article
Full-text available
Boundaries between meaningful events are key moments in comprehending human action. At these points, viewers may focus on the event's contents at the expense of other information. We tested whether visual detection was impaired at those moments perceivers judged to be boundaries between events. Short animated football clips were used as stimulus ma...
Article
During narrative comprehension, readers construct representations of the situation described by a text, called situation models. Theories of situation model construction and event comprehension posit two distinct types of situation model updating: incremental updating of individual situational dimensions, and global updates in which an old model is...
Article
Full-text available
The majority of research on situation model processing in older adults has focused on narrative texts. Much of this research has shown that many important aspects of constructing a situation model for a text are preserved and may even improve with age. However, narratives need not be text-based, and little is known as to whether these findings gene...
Article
Full-text available
Flexible, adaptive behavior is thought to rely on abstract rule representations within lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), yet it remains unclear how these representations provide such flexibility. We recently demonstrated that humans can learn complex novel tasks in seconds. Here we hypothesized that this impressive mental flexibility may be possibl...
Article
Full-text available
Events are central elements of human experience. Formally, they can be individuated in terms of the entities that compose them, the features of those entities, and the relations amongst entities. Psychologically, representations of events capture their spatiotemporal location, the people and objects involved, and the relations between these element...
Article
Filmmakers use continuity editing to engender a sense of situational continuity or discontinuity at editing boundaries. The goal of this study was to assess the impact of continuity editing on how