Aaron P. Blaisdell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology & UCLA Brain Research Institute.
Tools and Techniques: behavioral psychophysical techniques to study learning, memory and cognition; operant and Pavlovian conditioning in rat conditioning chambers, automated response collection in touchscreen-equipped pigeon operant chambers, automated scoring of rat, pigeon, and hermit crab behavior in open-field settings, quantifying behavior.
Interests: comparative cognition, causal cognition, animal learning and behavior, spatial learning and reasoning, rational processes, behavioral variation and problem solving, habituation and sensitization, ancestral health and modern disease.
I am a comparative psychologist and behavioral neuroscientist interested in general processes of learning and cognition. In my lab we study psychological processes in rats, pigeons, humans, and hermit crabs. My research is motivated by the overarching theory that basic behavioral processes of learning, such as habituation, sensitization, and associative processes, provide the substrate to support flexible cognitive processes of representation and inference. I use the psychophysical and behavioral methodologies of Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning to explore the interface between learning and cognition. Primary topics of investigation include (1) spatial and temporal cognition, (2) causal learning and inference, and (3) behavioral processes of variability, problem solving, and creativity. Recently, my research has extended into (4) simple learning processes in the terrestrial hermit crab. I am also beginning a new line of research on (5) the role of nutrition and other lifestyle variables on cognition and mental health.