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Mark McDaniel

Professor of Psychology

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Mark McDaniel is the principal investigator in the Memory and Complex Learning Laboratory. He has two main research interests: prospective memory and education. Prospective memory refers to remembering to perform intended actions in the future such as remembering to take your medication or to turn off your cell phone before you enter a lecture. Another line of research in this lab is applying cognition to education.

In the media


Pre-lecture diagrams help students take better notes, learn more

Pre-lecture diagrams help students take better notes, learn more

Lecture-based learning can be challenging for students who have difficulties building mental models for the organization of new information, but providing them with diagrams and other supporting material in advance of the lecture can help them overcome these hurdles, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

Quizzes key to learning for middle school students

Practice may not always make perfect, but a novel study of Midwestern middle school science students suggests it just might. New research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that students who received three quizzes on content questions before a unit test performed at the “A” level on those test questions, compared with a “C” level on questions that were not quizzed beforehand but still on the test.

Memory links to 40 winks

When it comes to executing items on tomorrow’s to-do list, it’s best to think it over, then “sleep on it,” say psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis. The researchers have shown that sleep enhances our ability to remember to do something in the future, a skill known as prospective memory.

A silly pat on the head helps seniors remember daily med, study suggests

Photo by Janet GumpertRemembering to take daily medications can be a challenge, but new research offers tips for strengthening those memories.Doing something unusual, like knocking on wood or patting yourself on the head, while taking a daily dose of medicine may be an effective strategy to help seniors remember whether they’ve already taken their daily medications, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

Book explores our ability to remember future intentions

Discussions of memory lapses often focus on a failure to recall past events, but equally important to our daily lives is a form of memory that helps us remember to do something in the future — drop a child at daycare, go to the dentist or pick up bread on the way home. “Memory is fallible, even for tasks that are very important,” suggests WUSTL psychologist Mark A. McDaniel, Ph.D., co-author of a new book exploring how the brain processes memories critical to planning and other forward-looking activities. “As soon as intention leaves awareness, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to be retrieved again.” More…

Book offers tips on improving memory as we age

Joe Angeles / WUSTL PhotoA new book co-authored by a memory researcher at Washington University in St. Louis is one-stop shopping for all the questions we have about memory and how serious our lapses might be as we grow older. Mark A. McDaniel, Ph.D., professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences at WUSTL, says his book, Memory Fitness: A Guide for Successful Aging, relies on many rigorous academic studies but is written for the lay person. “Our mission is to give the general public a good idea of what they can reasonably expect from their memory capabilities as they age,” says McDaniel about the book he co-authored with Gilles O. Einstein, Ph.D., professor and chair of the psychology department at Furman University. “It also outlines some reasonable expectations about things people can do to perhaps increase their memory performances.”