Michael D. Nelson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychology

I grew up in Pendleton, Oregon and attended Linfield College (McMinnville, OR) from 1987 – 1991, where I majored in Psychology. I have always been fascinated by human behavior (both my own and that of other people) and Psychology was a natural...

Dr. Michael D. Nelson

Contact Information

Education & Curriculum Vitae

Ph.D., Experimental Psychology, Dartmouth College

M.A., Neuroscience, Baylor University

B.A., Psychology, magna cum laude, Linfield College

Courses Taught

PSYC 101: General Psychology

PSYC 305: Sensation & Perception

PSYC 310: Cognition


I grew up in Pendleton, Oregon and attended Linfield College (McMinnville, OR) from 1987 – 1991, where I majored in Psychology. I have always been fascinated by human behavior (both my own and that of other people) and Psychology was a natural fit for me in college (although I started out as a Physics major!). After college I took a year off and then enrolled in a Neuroscience graduate program at Baylor University in 1992. After graduating with a Master’s degree in Neuroscience in 1995, I attended Dartmouth College, where I earned my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology (Cognitive Neuroscience emphasis) in 2000. My dissertation was on the selection of targets for saccadic (fast, re-orienting) eye movements under the supervision of Dr. Howard C. Hughes. In 2000 I joined Dr. G. (Ron) Mangun at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University as a post-doctoral fellow. My research there focused on functional neuroimaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging; fMRI) and the mechanisms of human visual selective attention. In 2003 I took a full-time position as a professor at the University of Missouri- Rolla (now known as the Missouri University for Science and Technology), where I taught General Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Sensation and Perception, and Neuroscience. My desire to be closer to my family led me back to the West coast, and I moved to Gonzaga University in the fall of 2008. At Gonzaga University I teach General Psychology, Sensation & Perception (a course mainly on vision and hearing) and Cognition (how we think, speak, remember, pay attention, represent knowledge, and make decisions).

Research Papers 

Nelson, M. D. & †Tumpap, A. M. (2017). Posttraumatic stress disorder symptom severity is associated with left hippocampal volume reduction: A meta-analytic study. CNS Spectrums, 22, 363-372. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1092852916000833

Nelson, M. D., †Crisostomo, M., †Khericha, A., †Russo, F., & Thorne, G. L. (2012). Classic debates in selective attention: Early vs. late, perceptual load vs. dilution, mean RT vs. measures of capacity. Perception, 41, 997 – 1000. https://doi.org/10.1068/p7309

Nelson, M. D. & Hughes, H. C. (2007). Inhibitory processes mediate saccadic target selection. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 105, 939-958.

Montgomery, F. H., Leu, M. C., Montgomery, R. L., Nelson, M. D. & Sirdeshmukh, M. (2006). Use of a virtual-reality driving simulator as an alcohol abuse prevention approach with college students. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 50, 31 – 39.

Nelson, M. D., Saykin, A. J., Flashman, L. A. & Riordan, H. J. (2000). Testing for laterality differences in regional brain volumes. Archives of General Psychiatry, 57, 511-512.

Nelson, M. D., Saykin, A. J., Flashman, L. A. & Riordan, H. J. (1998). Hippocampal volume reduction in schizophrenia as assessed by magnetic resonance imaging: A meta-analytic study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 55, 433-440. (Note: This article has been cited in 795 articles and book chapters as of 11/27/2017.)

Hughes, H. C., Nelson, M. D. & Aronchick, D. M. (1998). Spatial characteristics of visual-auditory summation for human saccades. Vision Research, 38, 3955-3963.

Hughes, H. C., Aronchick, D. M. & Nelson, M. D. (1997). Spatial scale interactions and visual tracking performance. Perception, 26, 1047-1058.

(† denotes GU undergraduate student)

Conference Presentations

Nelson, M.D. & †Tumpap, A. (2015). Posttraumatic stress disorder symptom severity is associated with hippocampal volume reduction: A meta-analytic study. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, New York City, May 21st.

†Ohlstrom, D. J., †Jones, K., & Nelson, M. D. (2013). Dissociated mechanisms for priming and congruency in load based tasks. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, D.C., May 26th.

Nelson, M. D. (2006). Allocation of attentional resources as a function of task difficulty: An event-related fMRI study. Presented at the annual meeting of the Southwestern Psychological Association, Austin, TX, April 13th.

Nelson, M. D. & *Norfolk, P. (2006). Interactions between task difficulty and distractor congruency: Mean RT vs. accuracy. Presented at the annual meeting of the Southwestern Psychological Association, Austin, TX, April 14th.

Nelson, M. D. & Hughes, H. C. (2001). Processes associated with the selection of targets for saccadic eye movements. Presented at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, New York City, March 27.

Hughes, H. C., Aronchick, D. M. & Nelson, M. D. (1996). Spatial scale interactions and visual tracking performance. Presented at the Workshop on Spatial Scale Interactions, University of Durham, England.

Nelson, M. D. & Duke, J. A. (1992). Feature loss and facial recognition. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Psychological Association. Portland, OR.

(† denotes Gonzaga University undergraduate student; * denotes UMR undergraduate student)

  • Visual attention
  • Eye movements
  • Probabilistic modeling of information processing systems
  • Meta-analysis