UWF Attention and Memory Lab

The Attention and Memory Lab (AML) is directed by Dr. Lisa VanWormer. The main focus of the AML is to study aging differences in specific areas of attention and memory. Currently, many studies in the AML investigate an area of attention by using a change blindness paradigm, and areas of memory by using positivity bias and inhibitory process paradigms. It is typically a 6 credit lab that spans the academic year. In the fall semester, students are involved in the creation and design of the experiment as well as data collection. In the spring semester, students are involved in the analysis of the data and the dissemination of the results, typically by presenting a poster at the UWF Student Scholars Symposium.

For Students

Is research right for you? The AML is always looking for undergraduates to work on research projects.

You may work in the lab for directed study:

  • Earn up to 3 credit hours per semester. This is 4 hours a week in the lab.
  • Your role will change according to semester. During the Fall semester, we work on research design and implementation. During the Spring semester, we finish collecting data and work on data analysis and dissemination. It is to your benefit to do two consecutive semesters in the AML.
  • There will be presentation opportunities each academic year (typically spring semester). You may attend a local or regional conference to present a poster or a paper, or you may find a local community group that would like to learn more about what we do at the AML.

There are requirements!

To sign up for a directed study, you must have:

  1. taken at least one course from Dr. VanWormer
  2. received a B or better in those courses
  3. permission/signature of Dr. VanWormer.

For Participants

Appointments are on a first come, first serve basis. Call 857-6217 or email AML@uwf.edu if you would like more information.

Appointments are made for 1 hour sessions and we can make appointments for two people at the same time.We appreciate all participants 60+ years of age! You will receive a 10$ gift card to your choice of Target or Walmart for your participation.

View a full version of the UWF campus

The Attention & Memory Lab (AML) is located in Building 41. There is a small visitor's parking lot between building 40 and 41.This is parking for the AML and the Center on Aging (COA). When you arrive at the lab, one of the research assistants will meet you with a parking pass to hang on your rear view mirror. You can find more detailed driving directions below.

  • Take Campus Drive north until you reach the dead end (1).
  • Turn left following the signs for the Central Utility Plant.
  • Go right around the one-way parking lot (Lot X).
  • Take the first available right at the "police call box" (2).
  • Continue past faculty parking (Lot V).
  • Continue past Building 46. Keep the Marine Biology display (Building 84) on your right.
  • Continue past the Central Utility Plant (Building 40).
  • When you see the Psychology Department (Building 41), a tight right turn will lead you to our lab parking spaces. (Directly between Psychology and the Central Utility Plant)

If you accidentally pass the Psychology Building, take a left and follow the one-way that is highlighted in blue.


How long are you doing this study?

         This lab was created to be a regular fixture at UWF. The lab was also designed to do more than one study at a time. Currently, we have four studies that are available for your participation. With each new semester, we hope to continually update the available studies. This means that the opportunities to participate in the lab should only be hampered by your willingness to participate.

How many times can I participate?

         The number of studies that are available vary from semester to semester. Currently we have four studies in which you may participate. For each study you participate in, you will receive a 10$ gift card to your choice of Target or WalMart. We only ask that you do not do more than one study per day.

What is the best way to contact a member of the lab?

        There are two main ways that you can contact the AML. Emailing us at AML@UWF.EDU is preferred- we have the ability to check email quite often. You can also call at (850) 857-6217 and leave a message, which we will return as soon as possible. Because the phone is a direct line to Dr. VanWormer's office, it is not monitored nearly as often as the email account.

What are the requirements to participate?

        You must be 60 years or older. We also ask that you are in good health and have normal (or corrected to normal) vision and hearing. In the future, we may lower our age requirement, however, for current studies we ask that you be 60 or over.

How long will I be on campus?

         Each study takes approximately an hour. If your appointment begins at 10:00, you should leave no later than 11:00.

What does a study consist of?

         The content of our studies change from semester to semester. Currently, all studies take place on the computer. You will see or hear a list of items and then will be asked to recall the items in the order they were shown by clicking on the words with a computer mouse. If you have ever used a computer mouse before, our studies will not be a technical challenge.

Where do I park?

         There are two small lots adjacent to the Psychology Building (Building 41) that are available for visitor parking. The best "lot" to park in is to the north of the building between the Psychology Department and the Central Utility Plant (Building 40). By clicking the Campus Map you may magnify our location by selecting our building (41) or our department (Psychology). We also have a magnified map available.

Can I cancel an appointment?

         Certainly. You can call and leave a message cancelling your appointment. If you would like to reschedule, we will be glad to do so.

Can I tell my friends?

         Absolutely. We are always looking for new volunteers. If your friend would like to make an appointment, we would be happy to do so. If you would like to come in together, we will try our best to accommodate you.

Can you assess my memory?

         Unfortunately, our studies are not designed to specifically assess memory impairments. Each new participant is given the MMSE, which assesses memory impairments to a certain degree. If we find that you have a "lower" MMSE score, we will be able to discuss this with you further. For the other tasks that you will do in the lab, we can tell you 1) the usual performance on the task, 2) the average performance we've found in the AML so far, and 3) your individual performance on the task. We try not to make conclusions about your overall ability, due to the large amount of individual differences, however, we do get a better "picture" as you participate in more of the AML tasks.

Helpful Links

UWF Center on Aging View a 9-minute video with Dr. Lisa VanWormer regarding the 2011 Needs Assessment Survey and its use.


Many of our current studies are collaborators with Dr. Tamra Bireta at The College of New Jersey and the Memory and Aging Lab.

Many of our studies are progressions of research previously done with Dr. Ian Neath and Dr. Aimee Suprenant in the Cognitive Memory and Aging Lab (CAMEL) while at Purdue University. Both Dr. Neath and Dr. Suprenant are now at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. Johns, Newfoundland.

Informative Websites

Coping with Memory Loss by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Alzheimer's Association

Alzheimer's Disease Stages on MayoClinic.com


Publications and Presentations

Student Projects* denotes Graduate students, ** denotes Undergraduate students

*Guterman, K. B., **O’Connor, E., **Ramirez, N., VanWormer, L.A., & Guttmann, R. (April 2012). The role of semantics during inhibitory control in cognitive aging. Poster presented at Student Scholars Symposium, University of West Florida.

*Gillespie, S. K., **Hohn, R., VanWormer, L. A., & Reichherzer, T. (April 2012). Imagery and distinctiveness in the survival processing effect. Awarded Best Psychology Presentation at Student Scholars Symposium, University of West Florida.

**McClain, J., **Donovan, M., & VanWormer, L. A. (April 2012). Using conceptual strategies to examine inhibitory deficits in older adults. Poster presented at Student Scholars Symposium, University of West Florida.

*Sober, J., **McCorvey, J., **Bjorkland, A., *Rupnaraine, S., & VanWormer, L.A. (April 2012). Emotional communication and cognitive aging: What we say versus how we say it. Poster presented at Student Scholars Symposium, University of West Florida.

*Hargraves, S., **Wells, M., & **Radius, C., & VanWormer, L.A. (April 2011). Implicit sequence learning within a unidimensional framework. Poster presented at Student Scholars Symposium, University of West Florida.

*Partyka, J., **Snedeker, L., **Hasseltine, J., &** Robbins, C., & VanWormer, L.A. (April 2011). Change blindness: Can we determine its predictors? Poster presented at Student Scholars Symposium, University of West Florida.

*Senkbeil, S., **Underwood, A., **Webb, B., &** Crittendon, J. & VanWormer, L.A. (April 2011). The roles of visual short-term memory and working memory in change detection. Winner of Best Graduate Collaborative Award at Student Scholars Symposium, University of West Florida.

Underwood, A. & VanWormer, L.A. (April, 2011). The effect of perceptual cues on inhibitory ability in older adults. Honors Thesis presented at the Student Scholars Symposium.

Affiliated Publications

*Takeucki, J., Kass, S. Schneider, S., & VanWormer, L. A. (in press). Virtual and face-to-face teamwork differences in culturally homogeneous and heterogeneous teams. Journal of Psychological Issues in Organizational Culture.

Bireta, T. J., *Fine, H. C., & VanWormer, L. A. (2012). Does working memory change with age? The interactions of concurrent articulation with the effects of word length and acoustic confusion. Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition.

VanWormer, L. A., Bireta, T. J., Suprenant, A. M., & Neath. I. (2012). The effect of perceptual cues on inhibiting irrelevant information in older adults using a list-learning method. Experimental Aging Research, 38(3), 279-294.