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George Spilich

Brief Biography

I am a cognitive neuroscientist with primary interests in human performance and comprehension processes.

More specifically, I am interested in how disease or damage to your central nervous system results in changes in how your brain processes information. For example, exactly what changes in information processing accompany the cellular and tissue damage in Alzheimer’s patients? As the cognitive skills of Alzheimer’s patients deteriorate, their driving skills will also deteriorate to the point that they are a hazard to themselves and others. Can we devise a simple test that would allow us to predict with certainty if that point has been reached? Are there drugs that would slow down or even reverse the progression of dementing diseases? Understanding changes in cognitive processes that accompany AD, ADHD, head trauma, and dyslexia are examples of the type of question that interests me and the type of question I involve my students in through laboratory and research experience.

I earned my B.A. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, my M.A. from the University of Texas-El Paso and my Ph.D. from the LRDC at the University of Pittsburgh. I am on the editorial board of Neurologica Croatia, a medical journal published by the medical society of Croatia; I also serve as an occasional reviewer for such journals as Addiction, Applied Cognitive Psychology, Memory, Psychology & Aging, and serve as a reviewer for proposals to NSF & NIH. I am currently a member of the Board of Directors of Eastern Psychological Association and was the program chair for the meeting held in D.C. I was a Fulbright Research Fellow in the Departments of Neurology and Nuclear Medicine at University Hospitals in Zagreb, Croatia, for the 89-90 academic year. I lived there with my family (our children were enrolled in the Zagreb school system) and that year was a highlight of all our lives.

At WC, I cover curricular areas such as cognition, cognitive neuroscience in the behavioral neuroscience program,  biostatistics & design, and life-span developmental. I also cover these topics in our general psychology rotation.  I am interested in psychophysiological measures of information processing; examples would be electrophysiological measures found in topographic EEG/EP and also eye movement/pupillometry measures of attention and informational load. One of my favorite courses to teach is general psychology because almost every student at WC takes this course. Since I memorize the name of every student in my class, I come to know almost everyone on campus by name. We teach that course as a year long, 2 semester sequence involving a total of four faculty, each teaching in the area of their expertise. Most students are not aware of modern psychology as a science and as a profession and so this course is our opportunity to show them the depth and breadth of Psychology. I enjoy the challenge of showing our students that Psychology touches their life in many ways they do not realize; Psychologists are professionals who diagnose affective disorders or attempt to recover function after head trauma; they design cockpits and controls for cars and planes in such a way as to make them safer to operate; they are investigating the causes and expression of anti-social attitudes such as racism and sexism; they are scientists who are unlocking the mysteries of Alzheimer’s disease, Attentional Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as well as reading disorders. Psychologists run the gamut from engineers to neurobiologists to clinicians in private practice and schools. Several have won the Nobel Prize; examples are Roger Sperry and Herbert Simon. 

I am a member of the following professional societies:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • American Society of Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists
  • American Psychological Society (APS)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience Society
  • Eastern Psychological Association (EPA)
  • Human Factors & Ergonomics Society
  • Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA)
  • Psi Chi
  • Psychonomic Society
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR)
  • Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco (SRNT)