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Evan F. Risko

Assistant Professor

head shot of Dr. Evan RiskoB.A., M.A., Ph.D. (Waterloo)

Contact information

Cognition and Natural Behavior Laboratory

Named Canada Research Chair in Embodied and Embedded Cognition

Recipient of an Early Career Award from the Psychonomic Society

Recipient of the Early Career Award from the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science

Recipient of an Early Career Award from the Province of Ontario

Recipient 2014 Outstanding Performance Award  

Dr. Risko’s research is funded by grants from the:

  • Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
  • Canada Foundation for Innovation
  • Ontario Research Fund
  • Province of Ontario
  • Learning Innovation and Teaching Enhancement fund (UW)

Research interests

Our recent research largely focuses on issues related to the embodied and embedded nature of cognition. Human cognition often involves, as an integral part, the manipulation of the body and/or physical environment. For example, we tilt our head to help us perceive ambiguous images, we gesture to facilitate communication, and we use our smartphones to store and search for information. In all such cases, internal processes (e.g., the transformation of mental representations) are closely coupled to external ones (e.g., the manipulation of the body/physical environment). From this perspective, we are trying to provide a deeper understanding of how we use our body and physical environment to help us think and how this coupling ultimately shapes our thinking. The broad nature of this problem leads us to address issues in many areas including attention, effort, metacognition, cognitive control, memory, human-computer interaction, and decision making. For more information here are a couple recent publications:

  • Risko, E. F & Gilbert, S. (2016). Cognitive offloading: Emerging trends and future directions. Trends in Cognitive Science, 20, 676-688.
  • Ferguson, A., McLean, D., & Risko, E. F.  (2015). Answers at your fingertips: Access to the Internet influences willingness to answer questions. Consciousness & Cognition, 37, 91-102.

We are also interested in using research in cognitive psychology to help improve practices in education. In particular, we have an active line of research investigating the characteristics of recorded lectures (e.g., like the ones used in online courses) that optimize learning. For example, we are interested in those features of lectures that reduce mind wandering and increase retention of to-be-learned material. This part of our research program marries basic research in cognition, technology, and the real world constraints of online courses in an effort to create what we refer to as a more attention-aware classroom. For more information here are a couple recent publications:

  • Risko, E. F., Buchanan, D., Medimorec, S., & Kingstone, A. (2013). Everyday attention: Mind wandering and computer use during lectures. Computers and Education, 68, 275-283.

  • Seli, P., Wammes, J. D., Risko, E. F., & Smilek, D. (2016). On the relation between motivation and retention in educational contexts: The role of intentional and unintentional mind-wandering. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 23, 1280-1287.

Recent publications:

In Press

  • Risko, E. F., Huh, M., McLean, D., & Ferguson, A. On the prospect of knowing: Providing solutions can reduce persistence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
  • Dunn, T. L., & Risko, E. F. Evaluating effort: Influences of evaluation mode on judgments of task-specific efforts. Behavioral Decision Making.
  • Seli, P., Ralph, B., Risko, E. F., Schooler, J., Schacter, D. L. & Smilek, D. Intentionality and meta-awareness of mind wandering: Are they one and the same, or distinct dimensions? Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.
  • Medimorec, S., Mander, C., & Risko, E. F. A minimal memory approach to linguistic compensation. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

2017

  • Risko, E. F., & Kingstone, A. Everyday attention. (2017). Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71, 89-92.
  • Medimorec, S., & Risko, E. F. (2017). Pauses in written composition: On the importance of where we pause. Reading and Writing, 30, 1267-1285.
  • Mills, C., Risko, E.F., Graesser, A.C., & D’Mello, S. K. (2017). Cognitive coupling during reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146, 872-883.
  • MacLeod, C. M., & Risko, E. F. (2017). Radical cognitivism?  Distinguishing behavior from thought. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 1, 22-26.
  • Seli, P., Risko, E. F., & Smilek, D. (2017). Intrusive thoughts: Linking spontaneous mind wandering and OCD symptomatology. Psychological Research, 2, 392-398.
  • Medimorec, S., Young, T., & Risko, E. F. (2017). Disfluency effects on lexical selection. Cognition, 158, 28-32.
  • Baker, D. A., Ware, J., Schweitzer, N. J. & Risko, E. F. (2017) Making sense of research on the neuroimage bias. Public Understanding of Science, 26, 251-258.

2016

  • Risko, E. F. & Gilbert, S. (2016). Cognitive offloading: Emerging trends and future directions. Trends in Cognitive Science, 20, 676-688.
  • Risko, E. F., Ferguson, A., & McLean, D. (2016). On retrieving information from external knowledge stores: Feeling-of-findability, feeling-of-knowing and Internet search. Computers and Human Behavior, 65, 534- 543.
  • Phillips, N., Mills, C., D’Mello, S., & Risko, E. F. (2016). On the influence of re-reading on mind wandering. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69, 2338-2357.
  • Medimorec, S., & Risko, E. F. (2016). Effects of disfluency in writing. British Journal of Psychology, 107, 625-650.
  • Besner, D., & Risko, E. F. (2016). Thinking outside the box when reading aloud: Between (localist) module connection strength as a source of word frequency effects. Psychological Review, 123, 592-599.
  • White, D., Risko, E. F., & Besner, D. (2016). The semantic stroop effect: An ex-gaussian analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23, 1576-1581.
  • Dunn, T. L. Lutes, D. J. C. & Risko, E. F. (2016). Metacognitive evaluation in the avoidance of demand. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 42, 1372-1387.
  • Seli, P., Risko, E. F., Smilek, D., & Schachter, D. (2016). Mind-wandering with and without intention. Trends in Cognitive Science, 20, 605-617.
  • Dunn T., & Risko, E. F. (2016). Toward a metacognitive account of cognitive offloading. Cognitive Science, 40, 1080-1127.
  • Besner, D., Risko, E. F., Stolz, J. A., White, D., Reynolds, M., O’Malley, S., & Robidoux, D. (2016). Varieties of attention: Their roles in visual word identification. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 25, 162-168.
  • Risko, E. F., Richardson, D. C., & Kingstone, A. (2016). Breaking the fourth wall of cognitive science: Real world social attention and the dual function of gaze. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 25, 70-74.
  • Zhu, M., & Risko, E. F. (2016). Spatial habit competes with effort to determine human spatial organization. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69, 1255-1264.
  • Anderson, N. C., Risko, E. F., & Kingstone, A. (2016). Motion influences gaze direction discrimination and disambiguates contradictory luminance information. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 23, 817-823.
  • Seli, P., Wammes, J. D., Risko, E. F., & Smilek, D. (2016). On the relation between motivation and retention in educational contexts: The role of intentional and unintentional mind-wandering. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 23, 1280-1287.
  • Gallup, A., Church, A. M., Miller, H., Risko, E. F., & Kingstone, A. (2016). Social presence diminishes contagious yawning in the laboratory. Scientific Reports. 6, 25045.
  • Seli, P., Risko, E. F., & Smilek, D. (2016). Assessing the associations among trait and state levels of deliberate and spontaneous mind wandering. Consciousness & Cognition, 41, 50-56.
  • Seli, P., Risko, E. F., & Smilek, D. (2016). On the necessity of reconceptualizing mind wandering. Psychological Science, 27, 685-691.
Affiliation: 
University of Waterloo

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