Department of Psychology

Alan Brown


Alan Brown

Professor and Undergraduate Program Director

Expressway Tower 1300



My research primarily involves how we store and retrieve information about the real world, and the manner in which these processes fail us. One of these phenomena is tip of the tongue experience, where one is momentarily stymied in accessing well-stored knowledge. Another is the false positive recognition experience of déjà vu, where a present experience seems subjectively familiar when you know that it is objectively new. We are currently extending the TOT research to identify the factors underlying repeated TOTs, and whether these change in frequency with age. We are also exploring the prevalence of other varieties of spontaneous familiarity, related to déjà vu, and whether there are changes across the age span. Finally, there are several research projects on how people incorporate other’s life experiences into their own autobiography.

Another recent line of research involves the retention of health-related information, and what concepts from basic research in cognition can be applied to improving memory for intervention instructions. The key question is if this can facilitate behavior change to remediate problematic behaviors, such as excessive alcohol consumption.


Brown, A. S., Croft Caderao, K., Fields, L. M., & Marsh, E. J. (2015). Borrowing personal memories. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 29, 471-477.

Deffler, S. A., Brown, A. S., & Marsh, E. J. (2015). Judging the familiarity of strangers: Does the context matter? Psychonomic Bulletin Review, 22, 1041-1047.

Fields, L. M., Brown, A. S. (2015). Occurrence, plausibility and valence for 124 life events inventory items. Behavior Research Methods, 47, 529– 537.

Brown, A. S., & Croft, K. (2014). There it is again on my tongue: Tracking repeat TOTs. In B. W. Schwartz & A. S. Brown (Eds.), Tip of the tongue states and related phenomena. Cambridge University Press.

Schwartz, B. W., & Brown, A. S. (2014). Recent issues in TOT research. In B. W. Schwartz & A. S. Brown (Eds.), Tip of the tongue states and related phenomena. Cambridge University Press.

Brown, A. S., Best, M. R., & Mitchell, D. B. (2013). More than meets the eye: Implicit perception in legally blind individuals. Consciousness and Cognition. 22, 996-1002.

Brown, A. S., Burrows, C. N., & Caderao, K. (2013). Partial word knowledge in the absence of recall. Memory & Cognition, 41, 967-977.

Holden, G. W., Brown, A. S., Baldwin, A. S., & Croft Caderao, K. (2013). Reading research findings can change views about corporal punishment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 38, 902-908.

Cleary, A. M., Brown, A. S., Sawyer, B. D., Nomi, J. S., Ajoku, A. C., & Ryals, A. J. (2012). Familiarity from the configuration of objects in 3-dimensional space and its relation to déjà vu: A virtual reality investigation. Consciousness and Cognition, 21, 969-975.