Daniel Krawczyk

Debbie and Jim Francis Chair in Behavioral Brain Sciences
Professor - Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Tags: Cognition and Neuroscience

Professional Preparation

Ph.D. - Psychology, Cognitive Science
University of California, Los Angeles - 2003
M.A. - Cognitive Neuroscience
University of California, Los Angeles - 2000
B.A. - Psychology
State University of New York, College at Fredonia - 1998

Research Areas

Research Interests

My research broadly focuses on the way that people attend to and remember information in order to solve problems, reason, and make decisions. I use functional MRI measures to better understand how areas of the brain are involved in attention, short-term maintenance of information, and representing motivating incentives. I am also interested in the brain correlates of memory for faces, scenes, and objects. Findings from these studies indicate that regions involved in attention and memory are activated to a greater extent when motivation is increased. This greater brain activation is often accompanied by faster and more accurate task performance.

I am investigating human reasoning in a separate, but related, line of research. I use picture and verbal reasoning tasks that require subjects to solve analogy problems or draw conclusions based on the relations among items. These tasks have been applied to individuals with Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD), a form of dementia resulting in damage to the frontal or temporal cortex, in order to assess the involvement of those brain regions in problem-solving and inhibition of irrelevant items. I use similar tasks to assess the reasoning abilities of individuals with social cognition impairments such as Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, and Schizophrenia. Work is also underway to investigate reasoning in individuals with ADHD. Findings from these studies have indicated that relational reasoning requires both memory and attention in order to manipulate information to solve problems and to screen out distracting incorrect information. Intact frontal cortex is highly associated with these mental operations.

Additionally, I am interested in how people make complex decisions, such as legal verdicts or economic choices. In this work I have investigated the way that preferences toward options and attributes change as people process information related to a decision. Typically, we find that the act of deciding changes peoples preferences and attitudes so that their eventual choice is well-supported, while the choice they will reject is poorly supported. This effect may explain why people are able to make complex decisions confidently.

Publications

Krawczyk, D. C. (2002). Contributions of the prefrontal cortex to the neural basis of human decision making. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 26, 631-664. 2002 - Publication
Krawczyk, D. C., Morrison, R. G., Holyoak, K. J., Chow, T., Miller, B. L., & Knowlton, K. J. (2001). Reasoning about picture analogies in prefrontal cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 13 [suppl]. 2001 - Publication
Morrison, R.G., Krawczyk, D. C., Knowlton, B.J., Holyoak, K.J., Boone, K.B., Chow, T., & Mishkln, F.S. (2001). Relational reasoning and semantic inhibition in human prefrontal cortex. Brain & Cognition, 47, 292-296. 2001 - Publication
Morrison, R. G., Krawczyk, D. C., Holyoak, K. J., Chow, T., Miller, B. L., & Knowlton, K. J. (2001). Semantic inhibition and analogical reasoning in prefrontal cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 13 [suppl]. 2001 - Publication
Gee, N. R., Nelson, D. L., & Krawczyk, D. C. (1999). Is the concreteness effect caused by underlying network interconnectivlty? Journal of Memory and Language, 40, 479- 49. 1999 - Publication

Appointments

Assistant Professor
University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center [2006–Present]
Assistant Professor
The University of Texas at Dallas [2006–Present]
Ruth L. Kirschstein Post-Doctoral Fellow
University of California, Berkeley [2003–2006]
Laboratory of Mark D'Esposito

Projects

Multi-attribute decision making by constraint-satisfaction.
2000–2000 Simon, D., Krawczyk, D. C., & Holyoak, K. J. (2000). Annual Meeting of The Society for Judgment and Decision Making, New Orleans, Louisiana, November.
Decision making by constraint satisfaction.
2004–2004 Simon, D., Krawczyk, D. C., & Holyoak, K. J. (2004). Annual Meeting of The Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November.
Influences of reward motivation on encoding and delay in human working memory.
2005–2005 Krawczyk, D. C. & D'Esposito, M. (2005). Bay Area Memory Meeting, University of California, Davis, August.
Cognitive coherence in preference-based choice.
2001–2001 Simon, D., Krawczyk, D. C., & Holyoak, K. J. (2001). UCLA mini-conference on Happiness, Pleasure, & Judgment. Los Angeles, California, November.
Robustness of decision-related attitudes under central executive disruption.
2006–2006 Krawczyk, D. C. (2006). Annual Meeting of The Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Houston, Texas, November.

Additional Information

Personal Statement

Dr. Krawczyk completed his doctoral training at the UCLA in cognitive neuroscience in human reasoning and decision-making. He did his postdoctoral training at the University of California, Berkeley, where he focused on studying functional brain-imaging methods (fMRI) to better understand the neural basis of human cognition.

In 2006 he joined the faculty at The University of Texas at Dallas in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Dr. Krawczyk is also involved with the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas. He is actively investigating reasoning and social cognition in disorders such as autism and traumatic brain injury. He also studies human expertise. Dr. Krawczyk is jointly appointed in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. There he is affiliated with the Advanced Imaging Research Center (AIRC) devoted to using functional brain imaging methods to study cognition in healthy and disordered populations.

Other Experience
  • 2003-present Member of Neural Circuits and Brain Imaging Program Group at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, UCSF
  • 1999-2003 Member of Frontotemporal Dementia Research Group at the UCLA Department of Neurology (1999-2000) and USC Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center (2000-2003)
  • 1998-2003 Member of the CogFog memory research group at UCLA.
Manuscripts Review
Biological Psychiatry, Neuroimage, Neuropsychologia, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews

News Articles

Brain Study: Amygdala May Play Bigger Role in Facial Recognition
New research from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas reveals that the amygdala may play a larger role in the brain’s ability to recognize faces than previously thought.
In a study published in Neuropsychologia, scientists found that the amygdala responded more specifically to faces than the fusiform face area (FFA), part of the brain traditionally known for facial recognition.
Scientist Gets Grant for Study of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries
A researcher from the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas has been awarded a $2.7 million grant from the Department of Defense (DoD) under the Joint Warfighter Medical Research Program.

The grant, awarded to Dr. Daniel Krawczyk, deputy director of the Center for BrainHealth, will fund research, via a virtual technology platform, to improve cognitive and functional deficits for veterans who have experienced traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Grant to Help Brain Scientists Dig Deeper into Detecting Deception
Social interactions, such as navigating a conversation or determining whether someone is being truthful or not, are some of the most complex tasks the brain carries out, yet little is understood about the social brain on a neurobiological level.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Biotechnology Office awarded scientists at the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas a $401,000 grant to develop a method that would map and quantify aspects of the social brain. Researchers will investigate deception using imaging technology and advanced mathematical analysis to quantify its brain-basis. The study will incorporate the impact of cultural differences, an aspect increasingly relevant to military intelligence gathering operations.
Virtual Reality Helps Children on Autism Spectrum Improve Social Skills
Although most children with high-functioning autism have above average intellectual capabilities, they often experience social difficulties. Deficits in social communication and difficulty inhibiting thoughts and regulating emotions can lead to social isolation and low self-esteem. However, new research from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas shows that a new virtual reality training program is producing positive results.

“Individuals with autism may become overwhelmed and anxious in social situations,” research clinician Dr. Nyaz Didehbani said. “The virtual reality training platform creates a safe place for participants to practice social situations without the intense fear of consequence.”
Wisdom in cause and action
Seeking evidence for why an event occurred is part of human nature, and it involves some of the most critical thinking processes we have. This process can allow us to determine the result of our actions based on immediate and clear feedback. Gaining insight into the world around us has resulted in numerous scientific discoveries. Engineering, medicine, and law are all fields in which clear feedback can allow us to make remarkable progress by understanding cause and effect relationships.

A medical situation can be life-threatening if the direct cause is not identified. In a searching for causes, we may look to the internet – not always the most reliable source of information on the cause of a health problem. We might be led to assume that the cause of a severe headache is a brain aneurysm when in fact it’s a migraine. Or consider stock traders… they can make a lot of money when they understand causes and effects. But many value situations are complex and uncertain. Cognitive or emotional biases enter into our thinking when we don’t have all of the relevant information. Biased evaluation of the cause can lose traders a lot of money.

Affiliations

Mentored Students
Karen Fox (2002-2003): Indiana University, Ph.D. Program in Cognitive Science Yun Chu-Jones (2001-2002): University of Hawaii at Manoa, Ph.D. Program in Cognitive Psychology Stephan Dickert (2001): University of Oregon, Ph.D. Program in Cognitive Psychology

Funding

fMRI Studies of Motivation and Executive Function.
- National Institute of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (postdoctoral) [2006–2018]
Functional MRI Studies of Working Memory and Reward Motivation.
- National Institute of Health RO3 Award [2006–2007]
Information Processing and the Emergence of Cognitive Coherence in Decision Making.
- American Psychological Association Science Directorate Dissertation Research Award [2003–2018]