Michael Miller, University of California, Santa Barbara
Barack Obama, John Dean & Other Criterion Shifters
We make many decisions throughout a day that require setting a criterion (i.e., deciding how strong the evidence must be), from the mundane (“Have I read that article before?”) to the more critical (“Can I cross the street in time?”). Setting a criterion also has important theoretical implications, such as understanding the nature of some false memories. Many decision models can accurately predict how the placement of a criterion to fit a given situation can affect performance, especially when the evidence is uncertain. Yet, no existing model explains how an individual sets a decision criterion, and why people are generally suboptimal in shifting a criterion in order to achieve the most beneficial outcome. We have discovered that while some people are actually quite good at adapting their criterion, others are not at all. Our research seeks to explain this phenomenon using a combination of behavioral and neuroscientific methods.
Mike Miller is interested in the psychological and neural processes underlying human memory and decision-making. His research employs a variety of techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), event-related potentials (ERP), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), split-brain studies, and signal detection analysis. These studies range from investigations into prefrontal and parietal cortex activity associated with shifts in decision criteria to attempts to uncover the functions of the parietal lobe during successful retrieval. A major component of his research examines the sources variability of individual patterns of brain activity during an episodic memory task. Ultimately, his goal is to use these neuroscientific studies to understand the processes of the mind when remembering a past event, and to appreciate the uniqueness of these processes at the individual level.
Annually the Department of Psychology hosts a Colloquia Series throughout the academic year.