The Barsalou Lab studies the human conceptual system from the perspective of grounded cognition, using methods from cognitive science and neuroscience. Basic research examines mechanisms of conceptual processing that support perception, memory, language, thought, and social interaction. A long-standing theme is that goals and context produce conceptual processing in a dynamic and situation-specific manner. A more recent theme is that multimodal simulation, situated conceptualization, and embodiment ground conceptual processing, and also cognition more generally. Increasingly, our work addresses the roles of conceptual processing in affect, contemplative skills, and health behavior. In affect, we have focused on how situated conceptualizations contribute to the emotions that people experience, and also to how situated conceptualizations contribute to the desire that can motivate consumptive behavior, such as eating. In contemplative science, we have been establishing the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie the process of decentering, a central component of mindfulness. In healthy cognition, we increasingly address the cognitive and affective mechanisms that contribute to health problems, such as stress and overeating, and that also help regulate these problems effectively.

Our research typically attempts to integrate multiple levels of explanation that incorporate cognitive, social, and neural mechanisms, placing our work at the intersection of cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, and social neuroscience. The Barsalou Lab resides at the University of Glasgow in the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, which includes the Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (CCNi) and the Centre for Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience (cSCAN), among other centres and groups. The Institute brings together a large, talented, and accomplished group of researchers, creating synergy across research areas at multiple levels of explanation, using the most sophisticated scientific tools available. The Institute’s state-of-the-art infrastructure includes fMRI, MEG, EEG, TMS, peripheral physiological assessment, and eye-, body-, and face-tracking technology, together with an impressive computing infrastructure and accomplished technical staff.