I work primarily within the philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and aesthetics. My focus is on embodied cognition and interactive processes. Given these foci, I often investigate both the cognitive and aesthetic aspects of dance. I have published on the various cognitive and developmental benefits of dance education, dance therapy, and improvisation. In general, I am interested in the various cognitive achievements that fall under the label improvisation.
My dissertation develops a full enactivist account of vernacular improvisational dance. I create a unified framework of dance cognition that can accommodate novices and experts alike. While much of the aesthetics, cognitive science, and philosophy literature on dance has focused on stage dance and art dance, I focus primarily on vernacular dance, dance at parties, jams, competitions, at festivals, and in the mirror with a blow dryer.
I am currently a member of two labs, the Cognitive Computing Research Group (CCRG) and the Languages Across Cultures (LAC), both at the Institute for Intelligent Systems. In the LAC, I work with an interdisciplinary team of researchers on problems related to political communication and deception. We do empirical studies and theoretical research that integrates multimodal approaches to communication and deception detection. I am currently taking on the lead to develop a fully integrated embodied cognition model of deception detection. At the LAC, we utilize a wealth of technologies including but not limited to EEG, eye tracking, motion capture, galvanic skin conductance, blink rate capturing, acoustic analysis, and several linguistic tools including Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) and Coh-Metrix. I integrate these various sources of empirical evidence into an integrated approach to deception detection.
With the Cognitive Computing Research Group (ccrg.cs.memphis.edu), I develop cognitive architectures that can accommodate both biological and artificial AI agents. Our LIDA model (Learning Intelligent Distribution Agent) is an ambitious cognitive architecture that aims at providing a unified theory of cognition using the global workspace theory of consciousness. In my research on the LIDA model, I have expanded the model so that LIDA AI agents can now plan, have self-narratives, and do long-term decision making. Furthermore, we have developed a new expanded model of the body schema and body image and how it plays into everyday actions. I am additionally working on several projects within the LIDA framework including making AI agents that can improvise and think aesthetically.