Computational & Cognitive
Neuroscience Lab

Prof. Thad Polk


Address: B033 East Hall, 530 Church St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Telephone: (734)-763-0343



The goal of research in the Computational & Cognitive Neuroscience Lab is to understand the neural architecture that underlies cognition, that is, the set of (relatively) fixed neural structures and processes that give rise to cognition. What are the parts, how do they work, and how do they interact to produce the mind? Ultimately, we would like to understand how the cognitive architecture is determined (e.g., which aspects are genetic), how the architecture changes as a result of experience and normal aging, and how it normally functions (in sufficient detail that we can implement it computationally). To that end, we have adopted a multidisciplinary approach that combines neuroimaging, computational modeling, and behavioral experimentation to make progress on these questions both theoretically and empirically.


WELCOME NEW LAB MANAGER, Kayla Wyatt! Kayla started with the Polk Lab in September 2023. She received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Temple University in May of 2023. Kayla joined the Polk Lab to gain more experience before graduate school and to expand her research interests.

WELCOME NEW LAB MANAGER, NOAH REARDON! Noah started with the Polk Lab in June 2023. He received his Bachelor’s in Psychology from The Ohio State University in May of 2023 and plans to pursue a PhD in developmental cognitive neuroscience. Noah joined the Polk Lab to gain experience working with neuroimaging and computational modeling.

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ACCEPTANCE HERE VIOLETDr. Polk has chosen Violet as his new graduate student for the Polk Lab! Congratulations on your acceptance!

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW PAPER, KATY MICHON! Our graduate student – Katy Michon published her paper: Person-Specific and Precision Neuroimaging: Current Methods and Future Directions. on NeuroImage! Congratulations, Katy! Read more here.

WELCOME NEW POST-DOC, MARK ZUPPICHINI! Mark Zuppichini joined the Polk Lab in August 2022. He received his Ph.D. in Cognition and Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2022 and he utilizes neuropsychological assessments and neuroimaging methods to study the underlying neural processes associated with healthy cognition and cognitive decline due to aging and disease!

WELCOME NEW LAB MANAGER, ESTHER KIM! Esther Kim started her job as a lab manager at Polk Lab in June 2022. Esther received her Bachelor’s in Biopsychology Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Michigan in May of 2022. She is interested in pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology and hopes to expand her research interests by working with Polk Lab. 

CONGRATULATIONS AND GOOD-BYE ON LAB MEMBERS! Abbey Hamlin left her lab manager job at Polk Lab this summer 2022. She started her Ph.D program of Clinical Psychology at UT Austin! Hook’Em, Abbey! Dr.Lalwani and Dr.Khammash received their Doctoral degrees and graduated in summer 2022! Dr.Lalwani started her Post-Doc research fellowship at UC Irvine. Dr.Khammash started her UX research internship at Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Good luck everyone! 

CONGRATULATIONS, DR. DALIA KHAMMASH! Dalia Khammash completed her dissertation in April 2022: A TMS Paradigm to Measure Visual Cortical Inhibition and Its Application to Aging. Congratulations to Dalia!

CONGRATULATIONS, DR. PIA LALWANI! Pia Lalwani completed her dissertation in February 2022: Age-Related Changes in GABA: Effects on Neural Distinctiveness and Variability. Congratulations to Pia!

CONGRATULATIONS, DALIA! Dalia Khammash has received the Department of Psychology Outstanding GSI Award. Read more here.

DR. POLK RECEIVED THE 2021 GRADUATE MENTORING AWARD FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY! Dr. Polk was nominated by current and former graduate students for the Psychology Graduate Mentoring Award in recognition of his tremendous dedication to the success and well-being of his students. 

CONGRATULATIONS, PIA! Pia Lalwani is the recipient of the 2020-21 Barbour Fellowship administered by Rackham Graduate School. Barbour Fellowship is “[a]mong the oldest and most prestigious awards granted by the University of Michigan, offering funding to female students from Asia and the Middle East since 1917.”

DR. POLK WAS NAMED THE  SAMUEL D. EPSTEIN COLLEGIATE PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY for his work as an inspiring teacher, outstanding researcher and selfless administrator. Congratulations, Dr. Polk! Read more here

CONGRATULATIONS, PIA & DALIA! Both Pia Lalwani and Dalia Khammash have been awarded F99/K00 Transition to Aging Research for Predoctoral Student awards by the National Institute on Aging.

ONE DAY UNIVERSITY TALK ON UNDERSTANDING MEMORY  – FRIDAY, AUGUST 21 AT 4 PM! This week, Dr. Polk is giving a talk on “Understanding Memory: How It Works and How to Improve It.” Watch the livestream or the recording here!

GREAT COURSES DAILY ARTICLE ON ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE FEATURING DR. POLK! Check out this article written by Great Courses Daily where Dr. Polk describes the discovery of Alzheimer’s disease and the current treatments for its symptoms. Learn more from his course, The Aging Brain.

GREAT COURSES DAILY ARTICLE ON ALCOHOL AND THE BRAIN FEATURING DR. POLK! Check out this article written by Great Courses Daily where Dr. Polk explains how drinking alcohol impacts our neurotransmitter and enzyme levels. Learn more from his course, The Addictive Brain

GREAT COURSES DAILY ARTICLE ON CANNIBIS AND THE BRAIN FEATURING DR. POLK! Check out this article written by Great Courses Daily where Dr. Polk explains how chemicals found in marijuana called cannabinoids produce psychoactive effects in the brain. Learn more from his course, The Addictive Brain

2020 ANNUAL COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE SOCIETY MEETING! Polk Lab members Pia Lalwani and Shannon Kelley presented virtually at the annual CNS meeting. Find their presentations here titled Age-related decline in brain signal variability: Cause and consequence and Age-related differences in white matter: Comparing fixel-based and tensor-based analyses, respectively.

WELCOMING NEW LAB MEMBERS AND NEW ROLES! We are thrilled to welcome three new members to our research team (well, 2 who are new and 1 who will be in a new role). Katy Michon and Shreya Rajagopal will be joining us as PhD students in Fall 2020. Also, Abbey Hamlin will be taking over the Lab Manager position in June 2020. A few of our lab members are moving on to new roles as well. Erin Freiburger will be starting a PhD program in social psychology at IU Bloomington and Shannon Kelley will be starting medical school at the University of Virginia in Fall 2020. Additionally, Sam Roy graduated from UofM with a BS in Neuroscience. Congratulations, everyone! 

CONGRATULATIONS, DALIA! Dalia Khammash won the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Research Service Award for her proposal titled Exploring the role of inhibitory dysfunction in age-related cognitive impairments.

MICHIGAN TODAY ARTICLE FEATURING DR. POLK!  Check out this great article written by Michigan Today where Dr. Polk spoke about the aging brain and the shrinking cortex!

NEW TALK BY DR. POLK! Dr. Polk was invited to give a talk at One Day University where he presented a talk about understanding human memory and how to improve it. Check out more details on the Media page of our website!

NEW CONTENT ON THE GREAT COURSES SITE! Four new blog posts from one of Dr. Polk’s lecture series, The Addictive Brain, are now available on the Great Courses Daily website. Check them out by following the links below! 

The Opioid Epidemic: America’s Deadly Addiction
Understanding Opioid Addiction: The Science of Addiction and Treatment

The Science of Addiction: Why Are Opioids So Addictive?
The Opioid Crisis: Fentanyl and the Dangers of Synthetic Opioids