Mark Lavelle

Photo: Mark Lavelle

PhD Student

Logan Hall, 217
James F. Cavanagh
MS, Psychology, University of New Mexico, 2023; Honors BS, Psychology, University of Utah, 2017


Cognition, Brain and Behavior


I'm motivated to understand and evaluate a unified framework for understanding perception and behavior as forms of decision making. Sometimes we make bad decisions and even our perceptions can be wrong (we have this to thank for the fascinating world of optical and other illusions). I'd like to better understand the constituent inputs to these decisions (beliefs about the probabilities and values of rewards and punishments and the effort required to attain or avoid them; what we attend or ignore), outcome evaluation (updating beliefs versus actions), and the neural coding therein. In this active interference framework, it is clear that all creatures live from one calculated risk to the next. Even our endeavors as scientists amount to risks (e.g., choosing the best vocabulary to describe our results, deciding whether something is non-random enough to consider "significant"). It might be useful to consider some disorders, e.g., depression, as imbalances somewhere in this fundamental process.