Matthew Johnson

Assistant professor Psychology

Lab site: Reflection, Attention, & Perception Lab


Dr. Johnson completed his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at Yale University in 2011. He was also a postdoctoral researcher at Yale and has served on the faculty at the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus. He joined the faculty at UNL in 2015 and is a member of both the Department of Psychology and the Center for Brain, Biology, and Behavior (CB3).

If you are interested in joining Dr. Johnson and the rest of the Reflection, Attention, & Perception (RAP) lab as either an undergraduate or graduate student, please contact him directly for more information. Please also see the lab website (linked above) for the most up-to-date information on publications, current research projects, other lab members, and specific research opportunities.

Research Interests

Dr. Johnson's research broadly concentrates on interactions between perception and reflection – in other words, how cognitive mechanisms concerned with processing what we are currently seeing, hearing, etc. in the external world (perception) relate to more internal aspects of cognition such as thoughts and memories (reflection). A central question is how attention operates to guide the flow of information in both the perceptual and the reflective domains – how we use attention to select not only which sensory information gets processed most fully, but also which thoughts and memories are in the forefront of our minds at any given time.

These research questions relate to a broad number of topics in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, but perhaps most closely to concepts such as working memory, executive function, long-term memory, visual processing, and mental imagery. The lab investigates these questions using a variety of techniques and experimental paradigms, including behavioral experiments (both in the lab and online), functional MRI, and electroencephalography (EEG).

Representative Publications
  • Johnson MR, McCarthy G, Muller KA, Brudner SN, Johnson MK. Electrophysiological correlates of refreshing: event-related potentials associated with directing reflective attention to face, scene, or word representations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. In press.
  • Johnson MR, Johnson MK. 2014. Decoding individual natural scene representations during perception and imagery. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8: article 59.
    Johnson MR, Higgins JA, Norman KA, Sederberg PB, Smith TA, Johnson MK. 2013. Foraging for thought: An inhibition of return-like effect resulting from directing attention within working memory. Psychological Science 24: 1104–12.
  • Mitchell KJ, Johnson MR, Higgins JA, Johnson MK. 2010. Age differences in brain activity during perceptual vs reflective attention. NeuroReport 21: 293–7.
  • Johnson MR, Johnson MK. 2009. Top-down enhancement and suppression of activity in category-selective extrastriate cortex from an act of reflective attention. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 21: 2320–7.
  • Johnson MR, Johnson MK. Toward characterizing the neural correlates of component processes of cognition. 2009. In F Roesler, C Ranganath, B Roeder, RH Kluwe (Eds.), Neuroimaging of human memory: Linking cognitive processes to neural systems, pp. 169–94. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Johnson MR, Mitchell KJ, Raye CL, D'Esposito M, Johnson MK. 2007. A brief thought can modulate activity in extrastriate visual areas: top-down effects of refreshing just-seen visual stimuli. NeuroImage 37: 290–9.