Keith Feigenson, Ph.D.
Keith Feigenson, Associate Professor of Psychology
215 Teel Hall
B.A. Psychology, Haverford College
Ph.D. Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania
The study of the relationship between psychology and biology goes by many names, including: Biopsychology, Psychobiology, Biological Psychology, and Behavioral Neuroscience. No matter what name you choose to use, it is the discipline that delves into the interaction of the mind and the body and seeks to understand how our biology contributes to our thoughts and behavior. Neuroscientists and behavioral psychologists use a variety of experimental models, including individual neurons, live animals, and even humans, with methods involving electrophysiology, genetics, pharmacology, and biochemistry, among many others. Dr. Keith Feigenson’s path to Albright College has taken him through many of these disciplines, as he has tried to approach the the human mind from a variety of different angles. Dr. Feigenson’s graduate background was in developmental neuroscience, investigating the changes of neurons in models of multiple sclerosis. Since then, he been studying some of the perceptual and cognitive problems facing people with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. Dr. Feigenson’s current research involves exploring how we can understand neurobiological processes by studying human behavior.
Areas of Expertise
- Cognitive science
- Individual Differences
Areas of Research
Perceptual organization and optical illusions
Perceptual organization is how we interpret our surroundings by combining individual pieces of stimuli into coherent wholes. It depends on the ability to interpret context, such as estimating an object’s size by comparing it to other nearby objects and is often impaired in schizophrenia. Dr. Feigenson studies how this varies in the general population using optical illusions, which trick the visual system using cues that misrepresent the size, shape, or distance of a specific object.
Our brains use predictive reasoning when forming perceptions of the world around us, using memories to inform current judgments. This occurs in many cognitive and perceptual activities and is believed to be impaired when people suffer from delusions, or strongly held ideas that are not supported by factual evidence. Dr. Feigenson is interested in studying this in the general population, employing such tools as the hollow mask illusion and a jumping to conclusions task.
A hot topic in psychiatric research is how we can use biomarkers to identify or predict states, conditions, or disorders. In the mental health field, increasing attention is being given to things such as inflammatory molecules, circulating antibodies, and cortisol levels, and how they could relate to the onset, development, and progression of specific disorders. Dr. Feigenson is interested in how biomarkers can be used as markers of states like stress and altered perceptual states.
Can training in one domain of behavior improve performance in a separate domain, if the two share a common biological mechanism? To this extent, Dr. Feigenson hopes to use perceptual organization tasks to see if improving performance in visual areas can simultaneously improve performance in auditory areas (and vice versa). Another question that arises from this line of investigation is what other mechanisms exist to improve mental processes involved in perception and cognition?
- Psy100: General Psychology
- Psy200: Research Design and Analysis I
- Psy201: Research Design and Analysis II
- Psy205: Biological Psychology
- Psy305: Behavioral Neuroscience
- Psy306: Advanced Topics in Psychology
- Psy397: Advanced Lab in Biological Psychology
- Psy405: Psychobiology: Seminar on Neurobiology and Mental Health
- Bernadyn, T. & Feigenson, K. (2018) Data gathering ability contributes to visual organization and probabilistic reasoning. Heliyon, 4(3), e00582
- Hunsberger, R., & Feigenson, K. (2017). Effects of attention and color on motion perception in Rorschach inkblot interpretation. Modern Psychological Studies, 23(1), Article 6
- Feigenson, K., Hanson, C., Papathomas, T.V., & Silverstein, S.M. (2015). A functional MRI index of spatial context effects in vision. Psychology, 6, 2145-2154
- Silverstein, S.M., Keane, B.P., Papathomas, T.V., Lathrop, K.L., Kourtev, H., Feigenson, K., Roché, M.W., Wang, Y., Mikkilineni, D., & Paterno, D. (2014) Processing of spatial-frequency altered faces in schizophrenia: effects of illness phase and duration. PLoS One, 9(12), e114642
- Feigenson, K., Keane, B. P., Roché, M.W., & Silverstein, S. M. (2014) Contour integration impairment in schizophrenia and first episode psychosis: State or Trait? Schizophrenia Research, 159(23), 515-520.
- Feigenson, K., Gara, M., Roché, M., & Silverstein, S.M. (2014) Is Disorganization a Feature of Schizophrenia or a Modifying Influence: Evidence of Covariation of Perceptual, Cognitive, and Behavioral Organization in a Non-Patient Sample. Psychiatry Research, 217, 1-8
- Feigenson, K., Kusnecov, A., & Silverstein, S.M. (2013) Inflammation and the Two-Hit Hypothesis of Schizophrenia. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 38, 72-93
- Silverstein, S., Keane, B., Feigenson, K., Wang, Y., Mikkilineni, D., & Paterno, D. (2013). Reduced sensitivity to the Ebbinghaus illusion is state related in schizophrenia. Journal of Vision, 13(9), 1261-1261.
- Silverstein, S. M., Keane, B. P., Wang, Y., Mikkilineni, D., Paterno, D., Papathomas, T. V., & Feigenson, K. (2013) Effects of short-term inpatient treatment on sensitivity to a size contrast illusion in first-episode psychosis and multiple-episode schizophrenia. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 466
- Feigenson, K., Reid, M., See, J., Crenshaw III, E.B., & Grinspan, J.B. (2011) Canonical Wnt signaling requires the BMP pathway to inhibit oligodendrocyte maturation. American Society for Neurochemistry, 3, e00061
Faculty Advisor, Psi Chi 2017 –
Society For Research in Psychopathology, member
Association for Psychological Science, member
Eastern Psychological Association, member
Awards and Grants
- Albright College Summer Scholarship Award, summer 2016
- Albright Creative Research Experience Award, summer 2015, winter 2016, winter 2017, summer 2018
- National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) K12 Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA), 2011 – 2014
- Early Career Research Award, 13th Annual Department of Psychiatry Poster session, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 2012