Benjamin DeCorte

Education: 
B.S., Louisiana State University
M.S., Villanova University
Department: 
Neuroscience
Curriculum Vitae: 

I developed an interest in studying how individuals perceive the passage of time while working towards a pre-law degree at Louisiana State University. I have always had an independent interest in philosophy, and I came across a body of literature addressing whether conscious awareness operates in a continuous or discrete manner. In other words, does sensory data flow into awareness like water downstream (continuous process), or does perception operate more like a video camera, organizing input into successive frames (discrete process)? A common theme surrounding this topic was how either process would contribute to our sense of the passage of time, which caught my interest. This eventually led me to the work of researchers in psychology and neuroscience, who were evaluating some of these topics empirically. From then on, the idea of studying time perception within a research setting continued to hold my interest. During my junior year, I decided to pursue a degree in psychology with the hopes of studying this topic at a graduate level.

Since then, I’ve researched time perception in four different labs and in four different species. First, I worked in Dr. Melissa Beck’s visual cognition lab at LSU researching how humans are able to use temporal regularities in order to effectively allocate attention. Then, I moved to Pennsylvania to study the neural mechanisms of how rats perceive time in the seconds-to-minutes range in Dr. Matthew Matell’s behavioral neuroscience lab at Villanova University. Now, I’m at the University of Iowa studying the neuroscience of time perception in both pigeons and mice, with Dr.’s Edward Wasserman and Nandakumar Narayan, respectively.

While I’m not working in the lab, I’m probably heading to the lab to work, visiting family in my hometown of New Orleans, or playing the drums/piano (poorly). My academic career has been rewarding thus far, and I’m excited to see how much I can accomplish at Iowa.