Hello, and welcome to my website. I’m an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at New Mexico State University.  I am the director of the Vision Sciences and Memory Laboratory in the Psychology Department (which is co-directed by Dr. Megan Papesh), and co-director and co-founder (with Dr. Phillip Post) of the multi-disciplinary Addison Care Virtual and Augmented Reality Laboratory.

*****  At the moment, I am on professional leave from NMSU so that I can be a Program Director at the National Science Foundation in the Perception, Action, and Cognition Program and the Cognitive Neuroscience Program of the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences.  I’ll be on leave for two years, after which I will return to NMSU full time (in the summer of 2022).  In the meantime, however, I still maintain my labs and mentoring, albeit remotely.  *****

My research interests fall under the broad heading of visual cognition, including research into visual attention and memory, and computational models of both. My other research interests include (but are not limited to): development of alternative methods for multidimensional scaling, similarity as a psychological construct, working memory, and spoken word perception.  My primary work focuses on memory and attention, with an emphasis on human visual processing. In my research, I employ converging techniques; specifically, I combine standard behavioral measurements (e.g., reaction time, similarity ratings) with more sensitive experimental techniques (e.g., eyetracking, tDCS), physiological indexes (e.g., pupillometry, heart rate), advanced statistical procedures (e.g., multidimensional scaling), virtual reality, and computational modeling.  My immediate goals involve conducting theory-driven experiments that investigate decision-making in visual search, with the long-term aim of establishing computational models of the underlying cognitive processes. This theoretical aim is coupled with more applied goals, in particular learning how to alleviate problems that plague professional visual searchers, such as medical and security screeners, and search and rescue personnel.

As a professor, I balance my time between research, teaching, and service. In my labs in the Psychology Department, we have a state of the art eye-tracker, several banks of testing computers, and the resources to collect data from undergraduates at NMSU and from members of the public.  We also employ touch screen monitors, virtual reality headsets, mobile eye-tracking, and transcranial direct current stimulation.  The Addison Care Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality lab is a separate entity.  It is a nearly 1000 square foot space equipped with multiple state-of-the-art virtual reality headsets (including one with embedded eye-tracking), computing stations, full lab tracking capability (to allow the VR users a great degree of movement in space), and the capacity to do augmented reality via green screen/floors.

I currently have four graduate students working under my mentorship (see the People tab for current lab members and the alumni), as well as undergraduate research scholars. My research is highly collaborative; I have collaborations within NMSU (both inside and outside of the Psychology department), in institutions around the US (e.g., Harvard Medical School, Arizona State University), and several abroad (e.g., the University of Southampton, the University of Sussex). I regularly publish my work in peer-reviewed journals and present at conferences as much as my schedule allows.

*** I am interested in taking on new students for the 2022-2023 calendar year (master’s or PhD level), so if you would like to join our group, please send me an email to mhout@nmsu.edu. ***

My regular teaching load is divided across undergraduate and graduate classes, and includes courses such as quantitative methods in psychology, research methods, memory, cognition, sensation and perception, history and systems, and others.  I am also the Associate Director of the College of Art’s and Sciences Discovery Scholars Program.  I regularly provide service to the scientific community. I am a journal reviewer for a great many different scientific peer-reviewed outlets, a Consulting Editor for the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, and I just finished a four year term as Associate Editor at Attention, Perception & Psychophysics. I contribute to popular science magazines (e.g., Scientific American Mind) and general science outlets (e.g., Frontiers for Young Minds; see here for a story on Nature Index about this), I was twice a co-organizer for an international psychology conference (the Object Perception, Attention and Memory meeting), and I make a concerted effort to share my work with other researchers. This involves the creation of databases that can be used in experimental psychology, and the free sharing of many of my software programs.

If you are interested in collaborative research, or in becoming a graduate student or research assistant in my lab, please feel free to contact me via email: mhout@nmsu.edu.