Professor George (Ron) Mangun

Language, Knowledge, Attention and Perception
March - September 2016

Mangun_UCCS_Opening__tilted_smWho is Ron Mangun?

Ron Mangun, distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neurology at the University of California, is an authority on the mechanisms of attention and has had a great impact on the scientific study on the mind. His work has been cited more than 12.000 times. He was the founding director of both the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University. He will work at the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging during his time in Nijmegen.

What is his research project about?

Cognitive neuroscience tends to identify specific cognitive functions and then study them as isolated entities, for instance attention, memory, language and decision-making. However, there is enough scientific evidence to know that cognitive systems interact and influence one another.
Ron Mangun will investigate the relationships between linguistic processing and visual attention in order to understand how high-level semantic information (as opposed to low-level sensory information) biases attention and influences perceptions. To make a stronger link with real-world attention demands, Mangun will perform experiments that focus on naturally occurring behavior (e. g., ‘make a sandwich’) instead of relatively simple features from earlier research (e. g., ‘attend to items on the right’).

Why was he nominated?

Professor Peter Hagoort, director of both the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging and the Max-Planck-Institute for Pshycholinguistics, finds professor Mangun a truly outstanding choice for the Radboud Excellence Initiative: ‘He is highly respected for his scientific contributions, is lauded as a leader in cognitive neuroscience and is beloved as a committed teacher and educator. He will not only bring these qualities to the university (…) but also his usual energy and good humor to his interactions with our faculty members, trainees and staff.’