Wheeler Lab

Cognitive Neuroscience Research at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Investigating neural and cognitive mechanisms of perceptual and memory-based decision making in aging


Think about a birthday party you had, or attended, as a child. Can you recall opening a treasured gift, the names or faces of people at the party, or the things people said to you? How is it that we can recall such rich sensory details from our distant past, sometimes with relative ease? We use behavioral and neuroimaging methods to learn more about how the nervous system encodes and retrieves personal memories. PDF

These functional magnetic resonance images show parts of the brain that are engaged while people look at images, listen to environmental sounds, and later remember the images and sounds. Areas active during remembering were usually also active during the initial experience.

When making a decision, we must encode and store relevant information over time, until the decision is reached. How does the brain evaluate sensory evidence and 'know' when to commit to a decision? PDF In some brain areas (blue regions), activity increases at a rate that is correlated with the timing of object recognition (blue lines). This accumulating signal occurs prior to recognition.

About Us

  • Principal Investigator
  • Post-docs
    • Kurt Braunlich, Ph.D. web
  • Graduate Students
  • Undergraduate Researchers
    • Rachel Davis
    • Hamid Habib
    • Matthew Nasiatka
    • Madison Tucker
    • Ian Wakeman


We are always looking for more people to participate in our memory and decision making studies at the Center for Advanced Brain Imaging. If you want to learn more about how to participate in a brain imaging study, leave your name and email (phone optional) here and a lab member will contact you as soon as possible. Your contact information will kept confidential in accord with Georgia Tech's Institutional Review Board. Participants are compensated for their time.



  • Manelis, A., Popov, V., Paynter, C. A., Walsh, M., Wheeler, M. E., Vogt, K. M., and Reder, L. (in press). Cortical networks involved in memory for temporal order. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • Wilckens, K. A., Erickson, K. I., and Wheeler, M. E. (2017). Physical activity and cognition: A mediating role of efficient sleep. Behavioral Sleep Medicine.
  • Tremel, J. J., Laurent, P. A., Wolk, D. A., Wheeler, M. E., and Fiez, J. A. (2016). Neural signatures of experience-based improvements in deterministic decision-making. Behavioral Brain Research, 315, 51-65.
  • Gratton, C., Neta, M., Sun, H., Ploran, E. J., Schlaggar, B. L., Wheeler, M. E., Petersen, S. E., and Nelson, S. M. (2016). Distinct stages of moment-to-moment processing in cinguloopercular and frontoparietal networks. Cerebral Cortex.
  • Tremel, J. J. and Wheeler, M. E. (2015). Content-specific evidence accumulation in inferior temporal cortex during perceptual decision-making. NeuroImage, 109, 35-49. PDF
  • Wheeler, M. E., Woo, S. G., Ansel, T., Collier, A. L., Tremel, J. J., Velanova, K., Ploran, E. J., and Yang, T. (2015). The strength of gradually accruing probabilistic evidence modulates brain activity during a categorical decision. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27(4), 705-719. PDF
  • Wilckens, K. A., Woo, S. G., Kirk, A., Erickson, K. I., and Wheeler, M. E. (2014). The role of sleep continuity and total sleep time in executive function across the adult lifespan. Psychology and Aging, 29, 658-665. PDF
  • Dunovan, K. E., Tremel, J. J., and Wheeler, M. E. (2014). Prior probability and feature predictability interactively bias perceptual decisions. Neuropsychologia, 61, 210-221. PDF
  • Wilckens, K. A., Woo, S. G., Erickson, K. I., and Wheeler, M. E. (2014). Sleep continuity and total sleep time are associated with task-switching and preparation in young and older adults. Journal of Sleep Research, 23, 508-516. PDF
  • Gallo, D. A. and Wheeler, M. E. (2013). Episodic Memory. In D. Reisberg (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Psychology. Oxford University Press, New York.
  • Criss, A. H., Wheeler, M. E., and McClelland, J. L. (2013). A differentiation account of recognition memory: Evidence from fMRI. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25, 421-435. PDF
  • Wilckens, K. A., Erickson, K. I., and Wheeler, M. E. (2012). Age-related decline in controlled retrieval: The role of the PFC and sleep. Neural Plasticity, Volume 2012, Article ID 624795, 15 pages. PDF
  • Manelis, A., Paynter, C. A., Wheeler, M. E., and Reder, L. M. (2012). Neural priming effects and subsequent memory in hippocampus. Hippocampus, 23, 53-65. PDF
  • Vanyukov, P., Warren, T., Wheeler, M. E., and Reichle, E. (2012). The emergence of frequency effects in eye movements. Cognition, 123, 185-189. PDF
  • Ploran, E. J., Tremel, J. J., Nelson, S. M., and Wheeler, M. E. (2011). High quality but limited quantity perceptual evidence produces neural accumulation in frontal and parietal cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 21, 2650-2662. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr055.PDF
  • Wilckens, K. A., Tremel, J. T., Wolk, D. A., and Wheeler, M. E. (2011). Effects of task-set adoption on ERP correlates of controlled and automatic recognition memory. NeuroImage, 55, 1384-1392. PDF
  • Manelis, A., Wheeler, M. E., Paynter, C., Storey, L., and Reder, L. (2011). Opposing patterns of neural priming in same-exemplar vs. different-exemplar repetition predict subsequent memory. NeuroImage, 55, 763-772. PDF
  • Nelson, S. M., Cohen, A. L., Power, J. D., Wig, G. S., Miezin, F. M., Wheeler, M. E., Velanova, K., Donaldson, D. I., Phillips, J. S., Schlaggar, B. L., and Petersen, S. E. (2010). Parcellating human left lateral parietal cortex: Evidence from functional connectivity and mnemonic processing. Neuron, 67, 156-170. PDF
  • Donaldson, D. I., Wheeler, M. E., and Petersen, S. E. (2010). Remember the source: dissociating frontal and parietal contributions to episodic memory. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 377-391. PDF
  • Wheeler, M. E. and Gallo, D. A. (2010). Episodic Memory. In I. Weiner & E. Craighead (Eds.), The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology (4th Ed.). Wiley.
  • Nelson, S. M., Dosenbach, N. U., Cohen, A. L., Wheeler, M. E., Schlaggar, B. L., and Petersen, S. E. (2010). Role of the anterior insula in task-level control and focal attention. Brain Structure and Function, 214, 669-680. PDF
  • Velanova, K., Wheeler, M. E., and Luna, B. (2009). The maturation of task-set related activity supports late developmental improvements in inhibitory control. The Journal of Neuroscience, 29, 12558-12567. PDF
  • Phillips, J. S., Velanova, K., Wolk, D. A., and Wheeler, M. E. (2009). Left posterior parietal cortex participates in both task preparation and episodic retrieval. NeuroImage, 46, 1209-1221. PDF
  • Wheeler, M. E. and Ploran, E. J. (2009). Episodic Memory. In P. R. Hof and C. V. Mobbs (Eds.) Handbook of the Neuroscience of Aging. Academic Press, London.
  • Wheeler, M. E., Petersen, S. E., Velanova, K., Nelson, S. M., and Ploran, E. J. (2008). Dissociating early and late error signals in perceptual recognition. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 20(12), 2211-2225. PDF
  • Wheeler, M. E. and Ploran, E. J. (2008). Episodic memory. In Larry R. Squire, Editor-in-Chief, Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Academic Press, Oxford.
  • Barth, A. L. and Wheeler, M. E. (2008). The barista on the bus: Cellular and synaptic mechanisms for visual recognition memory. Neuron, 58, 159-161. PDF
  • Velanova, K., Wheeler, M. E., and Luna, B. (2008). Maturational changes in anterior cingulate and frontoparietal recruitment support the development of error processing and inhibitory control. Cerebral Cortex, 18, 2505-2522. PDF
  • Ploran, E. J., Nelson, S. M., Velanova, K., Donaldson, D. I., Petersen, S. E., and Wheeler, M. E. (2007). Evidence accumulation and the moment of recognition: dissociating perceptual recognition processes using fMRI. The Journal of Neuroscience, 27(44), 11912-11924. PDF
  • Wheeler, M. E., Shulman, G. L., Buckner, R. L., Miezin, F. M., Velanova, K., and Petersen, S. E. (2006). Evidence for separate perceptual reactivation and search processes during remembering. Cerebral Cortex, 16, 949-959. PDF
  • Wheeler, M. E. and Buckner, R. L. (2004). Functional-anatomic correlates of remembering and knowing. NeuroImage, 21, 1337-1349. PDF
  • Velanova, K., Jacoby, L. L., Wheeler, M. E., McAvoy, M. P., Petersen, S. E., and Buckner, R. L. (2003). Functional-anatomic correlates of sustained and transient components of controlled processing engaged during episodic retrieval. The Journal of Neuroscience, 23, 8460-8470. PDF
  • Wheeler, M. E. and Buckner, R. L. (2003). Functional dissociation among components of remembering: control, perceived oldness, and content. The Journal of Neuroscience, 23, 3869-3880. PDF
  • Buckner, R.L., Wheeler, M.E., and Sheridan, M. (2001) Encoding processes during retrieval tasks. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 13, 406-415. PDF
  • Almli, C. R., Ball, R. H., and Wheeler, M. E (2001). Human fetal and neonatal movement patterns: Gender differences and fetal-to-neonatal continuity. Developmental Psychobiology, 38, 252-273. PDF
  • Buckner, R. L. and Wheeler, M. E. (2001). The cognitive neuroscience of remembering. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2, 624-634. PDF
  • Wheeler, M.E., Petersen, S.E., and Buckner, R.L. (2000). Memory‚Äôs echo: Vivid remembering reactivates sensory-specific cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 97, 11125-11129. PDF
  • Buckner, R. L., Logan, J., Donaldson, D. I., and Wheeler, M. E. (2000). Cognitive neuroscience of episodic memory encoding. Acta Psychologica, 105, 127-139. PDF
  • Konishi, S., Wheeler, M. E., Donaldson, D. I., and Buckner, R. L. (2000). Neural correlates of episodic retrieval success. NeuroImage, 12, 276-286.
  • Dugan, L. L., Turetsky, D. M., Du, C., Lobner, D., Wheeler, M., Almli, C. R., Shen, C. K.-F.,Luh, T.-Y., Choi, D. W., and Lin, T.-S. (1997). Carboxyfullerenes as neuroprotective agents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 94, 9434-9439. PDF