Matthew J. Weber, Ph.D.

I'm a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology and Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. I'm working with Sharon Thompson-Schill on behavioral, connectionist, and cognitive neuroscience investigations of the role of prefrontal cortex in statistical learning. I received my Ph.D. in psychology and neuroscience in 2009 from Princeton, where I worked with Dan Osherson and Ken Norman on reading out conceptual judgments from brain activity in object-selective cortex.

Curriculum vitae

pdf (version: 4/4/2014)

Poster reprints

CNS 2014: Cognitive control and object recognition in highlighting.

Psychonomics 2013: A shared processing resource for musical syntax and semantic competition.

Psychonomics 2012: Taxing attentional resources amplifies cue competition in associative learning.

CNS 2012: Highlighting is amplified by two forms of prefrontal suppression.

CNS 2011: Transcranial direct current stimulation to prefrontal cortex alters blood flow and functional connectivity in reward networks.

Current projects

Influence of tDCS on prefrontal cortex and connected brain regions. We are using arterial spin-labeling perfusion imaging as well as standard BOLD fMRI to investigate the aftereffects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Our stimulation montage has been linked to increased risk aversion in the Balloon Analog Risk Task, and we expect to find alterations in brain activity and functional connectivity in brain regions related to reward processing such as orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, insula, and striatum, perhaps related to parameters of trial-by-trial model fits. Sam Messing, Hengyi Rao, David Wolk, and John Detre are collaborators.

The role of prefrontal cortex in guiding attention for learning. Previous work strongly suggests that order-dependent learning phenomena such as blocking and highlighting are implemented by attentional shifting for rapid error reduction, although ultimately the learned association strengths may not reflect the empirical ones. We are using tDCS over prefrontal cortex to confirm that disrupting the neural substrate of attentional shifting reduces blocking and highlighting effects. We also plan to examine the interaction of tDCS with genetic polymorphisms governing prefrontal and striatal dopamine.

The role of prefrontal cortex in attentional filtering for visual statistical learning. Studies of college students show that they implicitly learn regularities embedded in a stream of visual objects when that stream is attended, but not when it is unattended. But older adults, known to have decreased prefrontal cortex function, also learn the regularities in the unattended stream. We expect that disrupting prefrontal activity with tDCS will allow younger adults to learn from the unattended stream.


Weber MJ, Thompson-Schill SL, Detre JA, & Avants BB (in press). Reproducibility of functional network metrics and network structure: Evidence from multiple imaging modalities. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience.

Weber MJ and Thompson-Schill SL (2010). Functional neuroimaging can support causal claims about brain function. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 22:11, 2415–2416.

Weber MJ and Osherson DN (2010). Similarity and Induction. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1, 245–264.

Baron SG, Thompson-Schill SL, Weber MJ, and Osherson DN (2010). An early stage of conceptual combination: Superimposition of constituent concepts in left anterolateral temporal lobe. Cognitive Neuroscience 1:1, 44–51.

Weber MJ, Thompson-Schill SL, Osherson DN, Haxby JV, and Parsons LM (2009). Predicting judged similarity of natural categories from their neural representations. Neuropsychologia 47, 859–868.

Contact information

Room 312
3710 Hamilton Walk
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience
Philadelphia, PA 19104

3720 Walnut Street
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Email: mweb[at]psych[dot]upenn[dot]edu
Twitter: mjweber02
Delicious: mjweber02

Other links of interest

SATORI (One Time Press, October 2008; co-created with Mike LaRiccia)
"Wormwords" (COSMOS magazine, December 2007/January 2008)
"Statler pulchrifex" (NATURE, August 2006)