My area of interest is in Cognitive Neuroscience and Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology. My research is directed at understanding the architecture and neural bases for human cognition. The structure of cognition is at present (and perhaps in principle) not reduced easily to cellular or molecular explanations. The study of how the brain mediates cognition, while constrained by micro-neural facts, is more directly investigated at higher levels of organization by studying cognition in humans. We use experimental and neuroimaging techniques in normal subjects and examine the neuro-psychological effects of brain damage. A clear understanding of cognitive systems and their breakdown is essential in educating patients and families and critical in designing rational treatment strategies.
I received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, where I studied Fine Arts and Visual Studies with a concentration in the “Science and Philosophy of Seeing.” I am interested in how visual perception can affect our comprehension of the world and of art. Besides acting as lab manager, I am currently researching how we perceive human bodies. In my free time, I continue to build my artistic practice and freelance.
I am interested in ethical decision making and finding out what factors influence our understanding of ethical questions. I completed an M.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics of Health at University College London, where I studied the ethics of research on large groups as well as the ethics of conscientious objection in medicine. I then completed my M.D. at University of Michigan. I am now a neurology resident at Penn.
My research is on how our brains create semantically rich representations in natural language comprehension. During my Ph.D. at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour in the Netherlands, I investigated the role of perspective for mental models of events and situations when people read fiction. Here at Penn, I want to extend my research on narrative comprehension by investigating differences between literal and figurative meanings. Next to behavioral and neuroimaging experiments, I plan to work with patient groups and brain stimulation. Other than research, I do a lot of sports like boxing and calisthenics and I love cooking and trying out new things.
I received a D.D.S. degree as well as a B.A. degree in philosophy from the University of Jena. Previously, I performed research in neuroembryology as well as empirical aesthetics, focusing on face attractiveness, beauty in visual abstract artworks, and philosophical aesthetics at the Institute of Anatomy I in Jena. At present, I am a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Pennsylvania working on global image properties and their correlation with neurophysiological activities. I am trying to relate the neuronal responses to landscape paintings, art portraits, and abstract art paintings with their statistical image properties. Special focus is on specific areas of the sensorimotor system and the emotion-valuation system.
I am interested in when and how sensorimotor representations shape language, conceptual processing, reasoning, and aesthetic judgment. To do this work, I use a variety of methods, including functional neuroimaging, studies of neurological patients (Parkinson’s disease patients, and stroke patients with focal lesions), and cognitive and behavioural testing. During my Ph.D. at the University of Manchester, UK, I explored how impaired action representations affect the way patients with Parkinson’s disease gesture about action concepts in conversation. At Penn, I am examining how neurodegenerative patients comprehend literal and metaphorical language, how stroke patients understand analogies, and how patients and young adults view different types of abstract artwork.
I examine how semantic memory structure enables and constrains high level cognitive processes in typical and clinical populations. During my Ph.D. at Bar-Ilan University, I investigated the computational, behavioral, and electrophysiological differences of semantic memory structure in low and high creative individuals. Here at Penn, I am gaining experience in neuroimaging research, applying network neuroscience methods to study creativity. In parallel, I am exploring further cognitive domains, such as conceptual combinations and aesthetic perception.
I’m interested in the neuroscience of memory and communication. I earned my Ph.D. at the University of Iowa where I studied patients with focal lesions or diffuse brain damage due to injury or disease. At Penn I will continue working with neurological patients, and will also utilize neuroimaging techniques to investigate semantic memory and analogical reasoning. Outside of lab, I like spending time with my wife Dana and dog Boogie.
My research explores how people navigate. As a graduate student at Temple University, I conducted behavioral experiments in virtual environments to determine what makes some people navigational experts and others constantly lost. At Penn, I will incorporate patient and neuroimaging techniques to pursue questions at the intersection of language and navigation. Understanding how spatial and linguistic representations differ will hopefully provide windows to treatment for those with navigational deficits.
When we judge people for their moral or prosocial behaviors, do our perceptions of their beauty influence our evaluations? I am interested in understanding how morality and beauty interact to modulate decision-making. Prior to joining the ChatLab, I was a postdoctoral scholar in the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the University of Chicago under the supervision of Jean Decety. Our work investigates the psycholigical and neural mechansisms underpinning political polarization and support for ideologically-motivated violence. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Manchester in England in 2016 where I investigated relations between moral cognition and emotions and the physiopathology of major depression. Before starting my PhD, I worked at Johns Hopkins University on neuroimaging studies of psychiatric disorders, and also completed a B.S. in Psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where I worked on studies of clinical, cognitive, and social functioning.
I am a Penn Master of Bioethics student exploring the neural bases of language. Currently, I am assisting in a patient study on metaphor comprehension. As a Haverford College German major, I conducted research in the ChatLab for my honors thesis on the evolution of the German language and German prepositions. This project required using an interdisciplinary approach, as I employed research methods from linguistics, statistics, and the humanities.
Kelly Porter is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying criminology, neuroscience, and Africana studies. She hopes to attend law school and to provide resources for mental health to individuals within the criminal justice system. Outside of class, she is involved in the Kappa Iota chapter of Sigma Kappa, peer academic advising, and Project HEAL. She enjoys traveling, reading, and hanging with her friends.