Samuel D. McDougle

Principal Investigator

Sam is an Assistant Professor in Yale's psychology department, and is a program faculty member for Yale's Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program and Cognitive Science Program. He earned his PhD in psychology and neuroscience from Princeton University, and did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. Sam uses psychophysical, computational, and neurophysiological techniques to investigate human learning and memory, with a particular interest in the interface of high-level cognition and motor behavior. Some of Sam's recent work has focused on how skill learning involves an interaction between executive functions and low-level reward and motor processes, on mapping and modeling this interaction, and on exploring its effects on decision-making. Sam also likes: playing folk music (fiddle & guitar), opaque IPAs, and rainy days.


Motor skill!old-time fiddle & guitar


Hanna Hillman

Graduate Student

Hanna is interested in taking a multimodal approach to better understand the process of cognitive motor learning and its computational underpinnings. She graduated from the University of Minnesota where she studied psychology, neuroscience, and sociology. As a research assistant in Uri Hasson's lab at Princeton, and then in Sam Gershman's lab at Harvard, Hanna used fMRI and novel computational methods to investigate human learning behavior and individual differences. Outside of the lab, Hanna enjoys dancing Lindy Hop, painting, carpentry, Star Trek, and going on recreational geology adventures.


Motor skill!unicycling & medical illustration


Juliana E. Trach

Graduate Student

Juliana is interested in how people learn about structure in the world and how knowledge about structure supports efficient behavior. She's particularly interested in hierarchy in the brain and how neural systems interact to constrain and facilitate structure learning. Juliana obtained her ScB in Cognitive Neuroscience at Brown University in 2018. After Brown, she spent two years working with Casey Lew-Williams and managing the Princeton Baby Lab. Outside of the lab, Juliana can be found listening to political podcasts on walks with her dog, Ruby, exploring EVERY local brewery, and testing the limits of her newly discovered quarantine skill, cooking.



Alexander D. Forrence

Lab Manager

Alex earned his BA in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University, and previously worked as a research assistant in the Brain, Learning, Animation, and Movement Lab at Hopkins. He is interested in how people acquire new motor skills, and has previously done research in habitual action selection and stroke rehabilitation. Alex enjoys writing code, the great outdoors, and playing racquet sports.



[your name here...]

The ACT lab is currently recruiting for a postdoc position. We are looking for an individual who is interested in human cognitive psychology and/or cognitive neuroscience, with an emphasis on learning and memory, and with experience in (or an interest in acquiring experience in) designing and performing behavioral experiments, computational modeling, fMRI, neuropsychology, and/or data analysis & statistics. Note, being primarily experienced with/interested in pursuing one of the above research approaches (behavior, computational modeling, neuroimaging, etc.) is totally fine!

The lab is committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion, and in maintaining a fun, challenging, and supportive research environment for everyone.

If you are interested in joining the lab, please email Sam (see the Contact link at the top of the page for info) to discuss your interests and whether our group would be a good fit. If you are a prospective PhD student and are interested in joining the lab, make sure to submit an application to Yale's PhD program in Psychology.