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Paul J. Reber, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Psychology
Northwestern University

Head of the Brain, Behavior and Cognition Program at NU Psych

Link to Faculty page at Northwestern University Psychology Department

A Wordle based on my current CV (Aug 2011) which seems like a surprisingly good snapshot.

Professional interests

Cognitive neuroscience of memory; neurological basis of memory systems; neuroimaging, experimental and computational approaches to understanding memory throughout the brain.



Professional Experience

Sept. 2004-Present Associate Professor of Psychology, Northwestern UniversityFellow, Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Northwestern University Medical School.
Member, Northwestern University Institute for Neuroscience
1998-2004 Assistant Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University
1997-1998 Cognitive Neuroscience Research Fellow, Magnetic Resonance Institute &
Department of Psychiatry, University of California at San Diego.
1993-1997 Post-doctoral fellow with Larry R. Squire, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry
University of California at San Diego.


1989-1993 Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Psychology
1984‑1988 B.S. Eng in Computer Science, University of Pennsylvania, Moore School of Electrical Engineering


Academic CV (Aug 2012)

Does technology make you smarter or dumber?

By Paul, Category Reber's Randomness

I got another request to comment on yet another media claim that technology is bad for our brains.  It’s actually also a good example of really poor science reporting in the media, so I won’t link it, but the topic seems generally of interest and it appears to be based on a curious underlying (folk) …

Questions from a middle schooler about videogames

By Paul, Category Reber's Randomness

I was asked to answer some questions from a middle school student doing a research project on video games.  Since I am interested in the topic generally, I should probably figure out how to answer these kinds of questions at an age-appropriate level.  My attempt: Jose asks: 1. Do video games affect the human brain? …

Today’s thought exercise

By Paul, Category Reber's Randomness

This is a very interesting piece on the philosophy of science and popular understandings of science: How our botched understanding of ‘science’ ruins everything http://theweek.com/article/index/268360/how-our-botched-understanding-of-science-ruins-everything   As an exercise to the reader, explain what is wrong with his complaint that what most people think of science is actually the opposite of science. Some helpful ideas …

Forgetting names

By Paul, Category Reber's Randomness

For some reason, I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately to explain why we are bad at remembering people’s names lately.  An email exchange on this with an Atlantic reporter got summarized online here: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/08/why-do-we-forget-names-as-soon-as-we-meet-people/375815/ Curiously, it then also got picked up on another site, Lifehacker: http://lifehacker.com/why-its-so-hard-to-remember-peoples-names-1620881563 And then I was contacted earlier this …

Cognition at high speed

By Paul, Category Reber's Randomness

I’m a big fan of Jerry, who posts to YouTube as ChessNetwork his videos of playing chess online.  One of the things he does regularly is playing online speed chess — ultra-rapid, “bullet” chess where each player has ~1m for the whole game. Chess is a different game when you have 60 seconds to make …

Neuroscience Meets Cryptography

By Paul, Category News

Our article on our “cortical cyptography” project is out in the Communications of the ACM: http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2014/5/174358-neuroscience-meets-cryptography/fulltext The focus is on how implicit knowledge of a password provides resistance to coercion attacks were you might be asked/forced to give up your password. While true, we frequently see people raising concerns that our method is too slow/cumbersome …

Post-doctoral position available

By Paul, Category News

Enhancing Intuitive Decision Making through Implicit Learning We are looking for a post-doctoral researcher to contribute to a new ONR funded project that will use computational modeling and fMRI to examine intuitive decision making.  Using our PINNACLE framework, we will build computational simulation models of cognitive processing that depends on interactions between implicit and explicit …

The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think

By Paul, Category Reber's Randomness

Good article on Cognitive Science versus Artificial Intelligence in the Atlantic from a few weeks ago. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/11/the-man-who-would-teach-machines-to-think/309529/ Douglas Hofstadter, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, thinks we’ve lost sight of what artificial intelligence really means. His stubborn quest to replicate the human mind. This is the key point, in my opinion: “I don’t …

Neuroscience and video game skill learning

By Paul, Category Reber's Randomness

I wrote a short piece for a gaming-oriented online magazine, GLHF (Good Luck, Have Fun!) talking about the neuroscience of skill learning and how it applies to getting better at even things like video games.  The magazine is generally focused on Starcraft2 and the professional e-sports scene around Starcraft (although I think they want to …

Brain training by Starcraft

By Paul, Category Reber's Randomness

Can’t believe I didn’t Randomness this one already… Real-Time Strategy Game Training: Emergence of a Cognitive Flexibility Trait Brian D. Glass, W. Todd Maddox, & Bradley C. Love http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0070350 The main finding: increased cognitive flexibility after 40 hours of playing Starcraft.  Of note, the assessment of cognitive flexibility was done by meta-analytic Bayes factor across …

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