Christine Watson, PhD

Christine Waston

Postdoctoral research fellow, Cognition and Action Laboratory

Research Interests

My research interests center on the way in which dynamic human actions are represented in the mind and brain. Much research has been devoted to investigating our semantic knowledge of concrete objects, but less is known about the content and structure of action knowledge. We use our knowledge about actions to carry out actions ourselves, as with the skillful manipulation of tools, to understand the behavior of others, and possibly even to comprehend words that refer to actions.

I have used several different methodologies – computational modeling, behavioral research with healthy and neurologically-impaired individuals, voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping (VLSM), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) – to understand the representation of action concepts. For instance, one question of interest is the degree to which action knowledge and/or action language draw upon information represented in modality-specific sensory and motor systems – the so-called “embodied” nature of cognition. I am also interested in understanding how more abstract knowledge about actions arises. That is, how is it that I can recognize that Tom and Jane are both “jumping”, even though they look nothing alike?

One current project investigates patterns of impairments after neurological injury or disease to determine if the conceptual organization of actions parallels action production. Another project focuses on identifying the organizational structure of object-directed actions and then using this structure to understand the behavior of healthy and neurologically-impaired participants on tasks that tap action concepts.

Current Projects

Consistency of impairments among tests of action knowledge and action product

The organization of actions performed with familiar objects in “action space”

Nature of impairments to object-action knowledge in apraxia

Selected Publications

Watson, C.E., Cardillo, E., Ianni, G. R., & Chatterjee, A. (in press). Action concepts in the brain: An activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Armstrong, B.C., Watson, C.E. & Plaut, D.C. (2012). SOS! A helpful algorithm and software for the Stochastic Optimization of Stimuli used in experiments. Behavior Research Methods. Advance online publication. doi: 10.3758/s13428-011-0182-9. PMID: 22351612

Cardillo, E., Watson, C.E., Schmidt, G.L., Kranjec, A., & Chatterjee, A. (2012). From novel to familiar: Tuning the brain for metaphors. NeuroImage, 59: 3212-3221. PMID: 22155328

Watson, C.E., Armstrong, B.C., & Plaut, D.C. (2012). Connectionist modeling of reading, language and semantics. In M. Faust (Ed.), Advances in the neural substrates of language: Towards a synthesis of basic science and clinical research. Walden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Watson, C.E. & Chatterjee, A. (2012). A bilateral frontoparietal network underlies visuospatial analogical reasoning. NeuroImage, 59: 2831-2838. PMID: 21982934

Watson, C.E. & Chatterjee, A. (2011). The functional neuroanatomy of actions. Neurology, 76: 1428-1434. PMID: 21502604