Duke University, Visual Cognition Lab

PhD Psychology & Neuroscience, 2009

My dissertation work examined the cognitive components of visual search (e.g., looking for a tumor in an X-ray), with the direct goal of improving real-world search task performance. I explored how the factors of experience, expectation, and the environment modulate accurate target detection.
I also examined the cognitive differences between expert and novice videogamers. In earlier work, I used functional neuroimaging to identify the common neural components subserving episodic memory and perceptual judgments. My work was supported by an NIH Pre-Doctoral NRSA fellowship.

Representative research topics:

1) If a target is very rare, do searchers make more mistakes? Such target rarity can be seen in critical social domains, including airport security and medical imaging. How can prevalence-linked mistakes be alleviated?

2) What are the effects of video game expertise on real-world search tasks (cytological screening, radiology exams)?

3) Does the detection of one target (for example, a tube of toothpaste in airport security screening) interfere with accurate detection of another target (for example, a hidden knife)?


  1. 1.Fleck, M.S., Samei, E., & Mitroff, S.R. (in press). Generalized ‘satisfaction of search’: Adverse influences on dual-target search accuracy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. [pdf]

  2. 2.Fleck, M.S. & Mitroff, S.R. (submitted). Video game players excel at rare target visual search.

  3. 3.Mitroff, S.R., Arita, J.T., & Fleck, M.S. (2009). Staying in bounds: Contextual constraints on object-file coherence. Visual Cognition. [pdf]

  4. 4.Davis, S., Dennis, N., Daselaar, S., Fleck, M., & Cabeza, R. (2008). Que PASA? The posterior-anterior shift in aging. Cerebral Cortex.

  5. 5.Fleck, M.S. & Mitroff, S.R. (2007). Rare targets are rarely missed in correctable search. Psychological Science. [pdf]

  6. 6.Fleck, M.S., Daselaar, S.M., Dobbins, I.G., & Cabeza, R. (2006). Role of prefrontal and anterior cingulate regions in decision-making processes shared by memory and non-memory tasks. Cerebral Cortex. [pdf]

  7. 7.Daselaar, S.M., Fleck, M.S., Prince, S., & Cabeza, R. (2006). The medial temporal lobe distinguishes old from new independently of consciousness. Journal of Neuroscience. [pdf]

  8. 8.Daselaar, S.M., Fleck, M.S., & Cabeza, R. (2006). Triple dissociation in the medial temporal lobes: recollection, familiarity, and novelty. Journal of Neurophysiology. [pdf]

  9. 9.Daselaar, S.M., Fleck, M.S., Dobbins, I.G., Madden, D.J., & Cabeza, R. (2006). Effects of healthy aging on hippocampal and rhinal memory functions: An event-related fMRI study. Cerebral Cortex. [pdf]


  1. 1.Fleck, M.S. & Mitroff, S.R. (2008, May). Videogamers excel at finding rare targets. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Vision Sciences Society, Naples, FL.

  2. 2.Fleck, M.S. (2008, March). Effects of expectation, experience, and environment on visual search. Talk presented in the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience weekly talk series, Duke University.

  3. 3.Fleck, M.S. (2007, November). Visual search: Effects of target rarity and videogame experience. Talk presented in the Psychology & Neuroscience Cognitive Lunchbox series, Duke University.

  4. 4.Fleck, M.S. & Mitroff, S.R. (2007, May). Missing rare targets in visual search: Errors of action or perception? Poster at the annual meeting of the Vision Sciences Society, Naples, FL.

  5. 5.Fleck, M.S., Daselaar, S.M., Beckmann, D., Dobbins, I.G., & Cabeza, R. (2005, November). Confidence modulation effects in episodic retrieval and perceptual judgment. Duke graduate recruitment conference, Durham, NC.

  6. 6.Fleck, M.S., Daselaar, S.M., Beckmann, D., Dobbins, I.G., & Cabeza, R. (2004, October). The role of the right prefrontal cortex in monitoring: A cross-functional event-related fMRI study of episodic retrieval and perceptual judgment. Poster presented at the Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, CA.

  7. 7.Fleck, M.S. (2004, April). A cross-functional analysis of the role of right dorsolateral PFC. Talk presented to the Psychology & Neuroscience Cognitive Lunchbox series, Duke University.

Teaching & Mentoring

2007-2009       Senior Member     Mitroff Lab 

                       Led team of 6 grads and undergrads; taught Matlab, exp. design, analysis

2007, 2008      Mentor     Vertical Integration Program 

                       Advisor to 3 undergraduate VIP fellows for summer research programs

2006               Teaching Assistant, Guest Lecturer    Cognitive Psychology

                       Instructor: Stephen Mitroff

2005, 2006      Teaching Assistant, Lab Instructor    Functional Neuroimaging

                       Instructor: Gregory McCarthy

2004, 2005      Teaching Assistant, Guest Lecturer    Myths & Mysteries of Memory

                       Instructors: Ian Dobbins & Elizabeth Marsh

2004               Mentor    Undergraduate Independent Study 

                       Instructed on fMRI training, experimental analysis, subject recruitment