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Ralph Miller


Distinguished Professor of Psychology




Ph.D., Rutgers University
Post-doctoral fellowship: University of Cambridge (UK)
Areas: Cognitive & Brain Sciences; Behavioral Neuroscience
Phone: 607-777-2291
Office: Science IV, Room 130

Curriculum vitae


Professional Activities:

Current editor-in-chief: Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition. Past editor-in-chief: Animal Learning & Behavior. Present or past editorial board member for Learning & Behavior; Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes; Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior; American Journal of Psychology; International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy. Past-President: Pavlovian Society; Past-President: Eastern Psychological Association; Past-President: APA Div 3; member and chair of various NIH review panels.
Center for Cognitive and Psycholinguistic Sciences (CAPS).

Research Interests:

Elementary information processing (animals/humans)

Research Description: Our specific area of specialization is basic information processing in animals and humans, including learning, memory, and decision making. Although our research team in recent years has worked in the framework of Pavlovian conditioning, integration with both the physiological and human cognitive literature is sought at the theoretical level. Recent work has been concerned with distinguishing perception, acquisition, storage, retention, retrieval, and response generation, using impediments to performance such as blocking, overshadowing, extinction, associative interference, and CS and US-preexposure effects to understand the processing of acquired information. We have found that training and test contexts (i.e., background stimuli) play a central role in modulating the expression of acquired information. Present research continues to examine these issues, particularly to determine how retrieval processes can explain phenomena that are traditionally attributed to differences in acquisition. Experiments are being conducted to see if the retrieval rule that we have formalized based on a modified form of contingency theory (the Extended Comparator Hypothesis) can explain sufficient behavioral variation to allow simplification of contemporary theories of conditioning. For example, with this retrieval rule, behavior indicative of conditioned inhibition can be explained in terms of a decrease in US likelihood as opposed to associations to the absence of a US, i.e., negative associations. A second avenue of research is concerned with the role of temporal relationships between events in elementary learning. Our data indicate that temporal proximity not only fosters the formation of associations, but is invariably part of what gets encoded within the association. Moreover, this temporal information is a critical determinant of how the association will later be expressed in behavior. Our work in this area is summarized in what we call the Temporal Coding Hypothesis. With the intent of informing practitioners of exposure therapy in clinical situations, other studies are examining the variables that control relapse following extinction. Additional research focuses on similarities and differences in Pavlovian conditioning, contingency judgment, and causal attribution by animals and humans.

Recent Awards:

Our laboratory has had continuous federal funding over the last 43 years. Current and recent graduate students and postdoctoral fellows have won the following awards:

* Martha Escobar, NIH Predoctoral Fellowship and Binghamton University Dissertation Year Fellowship
* James Denniston, APA Dissertation Research Award
* Aaron Blaisdell, Binghamton University Dissertation Year Fellowship and Binghamton University Graduate Student Research Award
* Philippe Oberling, INSERM Postdoctoral Fellowship
* Hernan Savastano, NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship
* Francisco Arcediano, Basque Government Postdoctoral Fellowship
* Steven Stout, NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship
* Oskar Pineno, Spanish Government Postdoctoral Fellowship
* Tom Beckers, Belgium Government Postdoctoral Fellowship
* Kouji Urushihara, Japanese Government Postdoctoral Fellowship
* Daniel Wheeler, Binghamton University Dissertation Year Fellowship and Binghamton University Graduate Student Research Award
* Gonzalo Urcelay, Binghamton University Dissertation Year Fellowship and Binghamton University Graduate Student Research Award
* Mikael Molet, Fyssen Postdoctoral Fellowship
* James Witnauer, Binghamton University Dissertation Year Fellowship and Binghamton University Graduate Student Research Award
*Gonzalo Miguez, Binghamton University Dissertation Year Fellowship

Selected Publications:

Craddock, P., & Miller, R.R. (2014). Attention as an acquisition and performance variable (AAPV). Learning & Behavior, 42, 105-122.

Laborda, M.A., Polack, C.W., Miguez, G., & Miller, R.R. (2014). Behavioral techniques for attenuating the expression of fear associations in an animal model of anxiety. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 45, 343-350.

Miguez, G., Laborda, M.A., & Miller, R.R. (2014). Classical conditioning and pain: Conditioned analgesia and hyperalgesia. Acta Psychologica, 145, 10-20.

Miguez, G., Witnauer, J.E., Laborda, M.A., & Miller, R.R. (2014). Trial spacing during extinction: The role of context-US associations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 40, 81-91.

Witnauer, J.E., Urcelay, G., & Miller, R.R. (2014). The error in total error reduction. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 108, 119-135.

Last Updated: 3/20/18