Laura E. Thomas
Research InterestsMy research investigates the ways in which actions influence
thoughts. We are constantly at motion in our daily lives, driving
from home to work, pacing our offices as we mull over an idea, and
fidgeting in our chairs while answering emails. Even when we sit
still to read, our eyes remain in near constant motion. The myriad actions we perform shape our thought processes, hindering cognitive performance in some cases and aiding it in others.
Using a combination of behavioral techniques, eyetracking, and virtual reality, I study the ways in which physical actions — from tiny movements of the eyes to shifts of the entire body — affect cognition. By examining when and why thoughts and actions interact, my goal is to uncover clues about the underlying mechanisms that tie cognition and action together.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, 2008
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, M.A. in Experimental Psychology, 2004
Washington University, St. Louis, B.A. in Psychology (summa cum laude), Minor in Biology, 2002
Thomas, L. & Seiffert, A. E. (2010). Self-motion impairs multiple object tracking. Cognition. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2010.07.002.
Irwin, D. E., & Thomas, L. E. (2010). Eyeblinks and cognition. In Coltheart, V. (Ed.), Tutorials in Visual Cognition, New York: Psychology Press.
Higgins, J. S., Irwin, D. E., Wang, R. F., & Thomas, L. E. (2009). Visual direction constancy across eye blinks. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 71, 1607 - 1617, doi: 10.3758/APP.71.7.1607.
Thomas, L. E., & Lleras, A. (2009a). Swinging into thought: Directed movement guides insight in problem solving. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 16, 719 - 723, doi:10.3758/PBR.16.4.719
Thomas, L. E., & Lleras, A. (2009b). Covert shifts of attention function as an implicit aid to insight. Cognition, 111(2), 168 - 174, doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2009.01.005
Thomas, L. E., & Lleras, A. (2009c). Inhibitory tagging in an interrupted visual search. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 71, 1241 - 1250, doi: 10.3758/APP.71.6.1241
Irwin, D. E., & Thomas, L. E. (2008). Visual sensory memory. In Luck, S. J., & Hollingworth, A. (Eds), Visual memory. (pp. 9-42). Oxford University Press.
Thomas, L. E., & Lleras, A. (2007). Moving eyes and moving thought: On the spatial compatibility between eye movements and cognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14, 663-668, Online
Irwin, D. E., & Thomas, L. E. (2007). The effect of saccades on number comparison. Perception & Psychophysics, 69, 450-458, Online
Thomas, L. E., Ambinder, M. S., Hsieh, B., Levinthal, B., Crowell, J. A., Irwin, D. E., Kramer, A. F., Lleras, A., Simons, D. J., & Wang, R. F. (2006). Fruitful visual search: Inhibition of return in a virtual foraging task. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 13, 891-895, Online
Thomas, L. E., & Irwin, D. E. (2006). Voluntary eyeblinks disrupt iconic memory. Perception & Psychophysics, 68, 475-488, doi:10.1167/4.8.401
Wang, R. F., Crowell, J. A., Simons, D. J., Irwin, D. E., Kramer, A. F., Ambinder, M. S., Thomas, L. E., Gosney, J. L., Levinthal, B. R., & Hsieh, B. B. (2006). Spatial updating relies on an egocentric representation of space: Effects of the number of objects. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 13, 281-286, Online
Invited Talks and Colloquia