James F. Cavanagh Lab

Director: James F. Cavanagh

How do we learn and make decisions? We don’t want to just describe these processes; we want to know how the brain does it. We want to understand the cascade of neural signals involved in integrating information, weighing options against each other, and selecting a behavior. This mechanistic perspective on cognitive neuroscience is a powerful tool for asking harder questions: How does emotion alter these computations? What happens when these mechanisms fail to operate correctly? Can this theoretical perspective help to develop more effective patient biomarkers?

Research Interests

Faculty page: http://psych.unm.edu/people/faculty/profile/james-f.-cavanagh.html 
Lab web page:  https://sites.google.com/site/crclunm/home
Data sharing site: http://predict.cs.unm.edu/ 
Data sharing site Twitter: @Predict_Admin


Graduate Students:

      • Trevor Jackson--Mechanistic Understanding of Cortical Reward Signals
      • Garima Singh--Reward in Depression and Substance Abuse
      • Chris Pirrung--Mutli-modal imaging of Reward
    • Past Students:
      • Darin Brown, PhD--Faculty at Pitzer College. Interests in reward, affect & decision making.
      • Jacqueline Janowich, PhD--Post Doc in Ghent Belgium. Interests in frontal cortex in control, task switching & working memory.
      • John Pinner--MEG, data fusion, prenatal alcohol exposure

The student's photos and personal pages are on the lab web page:  https://sites.google.com/site/crclunm/lab-members

The lab is always looking for the best and brightest UNM student research assistants.  If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies in my laboratory, please contact me, Dr. James Cavanagh, at

jcavanagh@unm.edu and apply to our program here at UNM by December.  Good GRE scores and academic performance are expected.  Emphasis will be placed on research experience, publications/presentations, and letters of reference.