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Tobias Egner, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Tobias Egner
Contact Info:
Office Location:  LSRC B246, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 684-1049
Email Address:   send me a message
Web Page:

Teaching (Fall 2022):

  • Psy 257d.001, Intro cognitive neurosci Synopsis
    Reuben-coo 130, TuTh 10:15 AM-11:30 AM
  • Psy 257d.01d, Intro cognitive neurosci Synopsis
    Old chem 003, Tu 12:00 PM-12:50 PM
  • Psy 257d.02d, Intro cognitive neurosci Synopsis
    Old chem 003, W 08:30 AM-09:20 AM
  • Psy 257d.03d, Intro cognitive neurosci Synopsis
    Old chem 003, W 10:15 AM-11:05 AM
  • Psy 257d.04d, Intro cognitive neurosci Synopsis
    Reuben-coo 127, W 12:00 PM-12:50 PM
Office Hours:

Tuesdays 4.00-5.00PM (and by appointment)

Ph.D.University of London (United Kingdom)2002
BS Psychology (1st degree Honors)Goldsmiths College, University of London1999
B.S.University of London (United Kingdom)1999

Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience
Research Interests: Cognitive Control; Attention; Working Memory; Decision Making; Predictive Coding

My goal is to understand how humans produce purposeful, adaptive behavior. The main ingredient for adaptive behavior, in all animals, is memory: we understand the world around us by matching the flow of incoming sensory information to previous experience. Importantly, by retrieving past episodes that resemble our present situation, we can predict what is likely to happen next, thus anticipating forthcoming stimuli and advantageous responses learned from past outcomes. Hence, I am interested in how the brain generates predictions about the world. However, unlike many other animals, humans can also produce adaptive behavior that runs counter to our learning history. For instance, we are able to switch from life-long driving on the right side of the road to driving on the left side during a trip to the UK. This capacity to use contextual information (“I’m in London”) to override habitual responses in favor of temporarily more goal-conducive actions is referred to as “cognitive control”, and it greatly enhances the flexibility of human behavior. Cognitive control requires the formation of temporary memory ensembles that link responses to stimuli in novel ways; this is often referred to as a “working memory”, and conceptualized as strategically attending to a select set of currently task-relevant representations. However, the mechanisms that govern this interplay between attention and memory remain poorly understood; our research aims to improve this situation. In my lab, we address the above questions using behavioral, computational, neuroimaging (e.g., fMRI) and neuro-stimulation (TMS) techniques.

Areas of Interest:

Cognitive Control
Working Memory
Decision Making
Predictive Coding


Egner Lab
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience
LSRC Room C03C
Phone: 919-627-8049
Postdocs Mentored

  • Jiefeng Jiang (June 01, 2014 - present)
  • Yu-Chin Chiu (August, 2013 - present)
  • Franziska M. Korb (January 4, 2010 - January, 2013)
  • Joseph A. King (January 4, 2010 - January, 2013)
Representative Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. Kiyonaga, A; Egner, T (2013). Working memory as internal attention: toward an integrative account of internal and external selection processes.. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 20(2), 228-242. [23233157], [doi]  [abs]
  2. Krebs, R.M., Boehler, C.N., De Belder, M., Egner, T. (2013). Neural conflict-control mechanisms improve memory for target stimuli. Cerebral Cortex, doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht283.
  3. Braem, S; King, JA; Korb, FM; Krebs, RM; Notebaert, W; Egner, T (2013). Affective modulation of cognitive control is determined by performance-contingency and mediated by ventromedial prefrontal and cingulate cortex.. The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(43), 16961-16970. [24155301], [doi]  [abs]
  4. Jiang, J; Summerfield, C; Egner, T (2013). Attention sharpens the distinction between expected and unexpected percepts in the visual brain.. The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(47), 18438-18447. [24259568], [doi]  [abs]
  5. King, JA; Korb, FM; Egner, T (2012). Priming of control: implicit contextual cuing of top-down attentional set.. The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 32(24), 8192-8200. [22699900], [doi]  [abs]
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