Christopher McNorgan, Ph.D.
Summary of Research Interests
Humans are multisensory creatures, and nearly everything we do, from reading the newspaper to drinking a cup of coffee requires us to integrate information represented across our sensorimotor systems. I study multisensory representational integration in two highly-related domains: First, I look at reading, which involves mapping arbitrary visual symbols to their corresponding verbal representations, as an intrinsically multisensory process. It is of particular interest because it is both a highly-practiced cultural invention on which much of our learning relies, but also because the reasons for which a large number of people with reading disorders (e.g., Dyslexia) fail to adequately master this skill remain unclear. Second, what we read usually has some underlying meaning. I am also interested in multisensory processes underlying semantic memory, which is our knowledge of the meaning of things (e.g., what is a KNIFE?). Our knowledge of knives includes information gathered from multiple senses (e.g., what shape they are, how heavy they are, how they are used), and often, information we have from one sensory modality provides some knowledge about other modalities. I use behavioral studies, neuroimaging (fMRI) and computational models (artificial neural networks) to investigate how the brain transforms and integrates multisensory representations that are distributed among a network of (more-or-less) functionally-specialized processing regions.
Recent Representative Publications
- McNorgan, C. (2012). A meta-analytic review of multisensory imagery identifies the neural correlates of modality-specific and modality-general imagery. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6.
McNorgan, C., & Joanisse, M. F. (2014). A Connectionist Approach to Mapping the Human Connectome Permits Simulations of Neural Activity Within an Artificial Brain. Brain Connectivity, 4, 40-52.
- McNorgan, C., Randazzo-Wagner, M., & Booth, J. R. (2013). Cross-modal integration in the brain is related to phonological awareness only in typical readers, not in those with reading difficulty. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7.
- McNorgan, C., Reid, J., & McRae, K. (2011). Integrating conceptual knowledge within and across representational modalities. Cognition, 118, 211-233.