William Sturgill, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology Psychology


Office: Van Ackeren 417

Courses: Cognition, Cognitive Neuroscience, Psychology of Perception, Psychology of Language, History and Systems in Psychology, Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences, Experimental Methods

Research Interests: Broadly, how the brain enables higher cognitive functions; for example, perception, cognition and language.  Current research projects are on the brain and humor, on the formation and maintenance of an attentional set, and on visual perception of words. 

Current Research Projects: My students and I are actively pursuing three projects in my lab: 1) how phasic emotion affects intuition particularly and cognitive processing generally; 2) whether visual illusions will reveal a physiological index of mirth; and 3) the automaticity of reading. 

Keep track of what's happening in the Cognition and Neuroscience lab.

Lab Web Page

Other Interests:

Gardening: I would like to turn my back yard, and perhaps the front one too, into an English garden. I would rather have bees flying around me than having to mow the yard.

Neandertals: What an interesting group, so limited in repertoire yet so successfully adapted to their environment. These people roamed around nearly twice as long as humans have been, and they survived that long without damaging the earth and threatening all life on earth.  My research question is: did Neandertals have language, or perhaps I should ask to what extent they had language.  Surely they could exchange information that was useful for their survival, but did they use metaphor and other forms of nonliteral language? Could they tell jokes? (How in the world will I figure that out?)

Evolution of language: Beginning with the proposition that language appeared via biological evolution, for which there is much strong evidence, rather than via cultural necessity, wherein humans just figured it out, for which there is no good evidence, I would like to examine paleoanthropological evidence that bears on hominin creativity coupled with genetics and recent cognitive science on a broad range of human cognition to propose a mechanism for the evolution of language.  (Do you suppose a Neanderthal could tweet a sentence like that, after lifting the length restriction?)