Individual differences in cognition, affect, and performance: Behavioral, neuroimaging, and molecular genetic approaches

Raja Parasuraman, Yang Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


We describe the use of behavioral, neuroimaging, and genetic methods to examine individual differences in cognition and affect, guided by three criteria: (1) relevance to human performance in work and everyday settings; (2) interactions between working memory, decision-making, and affective processing; and (3) examination of individual differences. The results of behavioral, functional MRI (fMRI), event-related potential (ERP), and molecular genetic studies show that analyses at the group level often mask important findings associated with sub-groups of individuals. Dopaminergic/noradrenergic genes influencing prefrontal cortex activity contribute to inter-individual variation in working memory and decision behavior, including performance in complex simulations of military decision-making. The interactive influences of individual differences in anxiety, sensation seeking, and boredom susceptibility on evaluative decision-making can be systematically described using ERP and fMRI methods. We conclude that a multi-modal neuroergonomic approach to examining brain function (using both neuroimaging and molecular genetics) can be usefully applied to understanding individual differences in cognition and affect and has implications for human performance at work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-82
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by AFOSR/AFRL grant FA9550-10-1-0385 and the Center of Excellence in Neuroergonomics, Technology, and Cognition (CENTEC) to RP and NIH grant P50 DA 05312 to the Center for Drug Abuse Research Translation (CDART) at the University of Kentucky. The authors thank CENTEC colleagues for comments and discussion and Ruolei Gu and Sarah Wing for assistance in the manuscript preparation.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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