Shawn W. Ell

Shawn EllShawn W. Ell
Phone: (207) 581-2037

Learn more at my lab web page.





My research program, broadly defined, investigates the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying learning and memory. In particular, research in my lab focuses on category learning – that is, the process of establishing a memory trace that improves the efficiency of assigning novel objects to contrasting groups. Category learning is a particularly useful focus as it provides a model for investigating many key theoretical issues of general relevance to learning and memory. More specifically, my research program investigates: 1) the nature and interaction of multiple learning systems; 2) rule-guided behavior; and 3) the relationship between social stress and cognition. In pursuit of these research topics, I use a number of methodological approaches including traditional cognitive experiments with college-aged and elderly individuals, neurocomputational modeling, psychophysiology, and behavioral research with neuropsychological populations.

Recent Publications

Ell, S. W., Helie, S., & Hutchinson, S. (in press). Contributions of the putamen to cognitive function. In A. Costa and E. Villalba (Eds.), Horizons in Neuroscience Research: Vol. 7. Nova.

Ell, S.W., Hutchinson, S., & Maddox, W.T. (in press). Explicit and procedural-learning based systems of perceptual category learning. In N. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning. New York: Springer.

Ell, S.W., & Zilioli, M. (in press). Categorical learning. In N. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning. New York: Springer.

Ell, S.W., Cosley, B., McCoy, S.K. (2011). When bad stress goes good: Increased threat reactivity to a psychosocial stressor predicts improved category learning performance. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 96-102.

Ell, S. W., Weinstein, A., & Ivry, R. B. (2010). Rule-based categorization deficits in focal basal ganglia lesion and Parkinson’s disease patients. Neuropsychologia, 48, 2974-2986.