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Ezequiel Morsella

TitleAssistant Professor
InstitutionUniversity of California San Francisco
DepartmentNeurology
Address350 Parnassus
San Francisco CA 94117
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    A theoretician and experimentalist in neuroscience, Ezequiel Morsella investigates the neural differences between the conscious and unconscious aspects of human action control. Such control requires a medley of high-level, executive functions.

    He carried out Ph.D. training at Columbia University and postdoctoral training at Yale University. Since his pre-college days, he has been focusing on the nature of the conscious (e.g., urges and working memory) and unconscious brain mechanisms in human action control. Morsella uses 'response interference paradigms,' including the Reflexive Imagery Task, to learn about the subjective aspects of action production (e.g., urges). He also uses 'delayed action tasks' to learn about the subjective aspects of working memory-based action control (e.g., imagery, sense of agency).

    In all of his project, Morsella has examined the mechanisms underlying the involuntary entry of information into consciousness (“involuntary entry”, for short). He developed the Reflexive Imagery Task in order to illuminate the nature of such entry.

    In collaboration with Adam Gazzaley, Morsella is evaluating theoretical developments (e.g., Passive Frame Theory) regarding consciousness and the brain using behavioral and neuroimaging techniques. (Passive Frame Theory was introduced to the literature as a target article in Behavioral and Brain Sciences [see publication below].) In addition, with the assistance of the neurologist Stephen Krieger and colleagues at the UCSF Memory and Aging center, he is examining the implications of the theory for the study of disorders of awareness and disorders involving action selection (e.g., frontotemporal dementia).


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    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
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    1. Bhangal S, Merrick C, Cho H, Morsella E. Involuntary Entry Into Consciousness From the Activation of Sets: Object Counting and Color Naming. Front Psychol. 2018; 9:1017. PMID: 29977217.
      View in: PubMed
    2. Dou W, Li Y, Geisler MW, Morsella E. Involuntary polymodal imagery involving olfaction, audition, touch, taste, and vision. Conscious Cogn. 2018 Jul; 62:9-20. PMID: 29709666.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Cushing D, Gazzaley A, Morsella E. Externally controlled involuntary cognitions and their relations with other representations in consciousness. Conscious Cogn. 2017 Oct; 55:1-10. PMID: 28735212.
      View in: PubMed
    4. Garcia AC, Bhangal S, Velasquez AG, Geisler MW, Morsella E. Metacognition of Working Memory Performance: Trial-by-Trial Subjective Effects from a New Paradigm. Front Psychol. 2016; 7:927. PMID: 27445897; PMCID: PMC4914569.
    5. Cushing D, Velasquez AG, Morsella E. Competition between Cognitive Control and Encapsulated, Unconscious Inferences: Are Aha-Experiences Special? Front Psychol. 2016; 7:626. PMID: 27199854; PMCID: PMC4852294.
    6. Cho H, Zarolia P, Gazzaley A, Morsella E. Involuntary symbol manipulation (Pig Latin) from external control: Implications for thought suppression. Acta Psychol (Amst). 2016 May; 166:37-41. PMID: 27043254.
      View in: PubMed
    7. Bhangal S, Allen AK, Geisler MW, Morsella E. Conscious contents as reflexive processes: Evidence from the habituation of high-level cognitions. Conscious Cogn. 2016 Apr; 41:177-88. PMID: 26946295.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Morsella E, Godwin CA, Jantz TK, Krieger SC, Gazzaley A. Passive frame theory: A new synthesis. Behav Brain Sci. 2016 Jan; 39:e199. PMID: 28355823.
      View in: PubMed
    9. Morsella E, Godwin CA, Jantz TK, Krieger SC, Gazzaley A. Homing in on consciousness in the nervous system: An action-based synthesis. Behav Brain Sci. 2016 Jan; 39:e168. PMID: 26096599.
      View in: PubMed
    10. Bhangal S, Merrick C, Morsella E. Ironic effects as reflexive responses: Evidence from word frequency effects on involuntary subvocalizations. Acta Psychol (Amst). 2015 Jul; 159:33-40. PMID: 26005914.
      View in: PubMed
    11. Merrick C, Farnia M, Jantz TK, Gazzaley A, Morsella E. External control of the stream of consciousness: Stimulus-based effects on involuntary thought sequences. Conscious Cogn. 2015 May; 33:217-25. PMID: 25636006.
      View in: PubMed
    12. Cho H, Godwin CA, Geisler MW, Morsella E. Internally generated conscious contents: interactions between sustained mental imagery and involuntary subvocalizations. Front Psychol. 2014; 5:1445. PMID: 25566126; PMCID: PMC4269111.
    13. Jantz TK, Tomory JJ, Merrick C, Cooper S, Gazzaley A, Morsella E. Subjective aspects of working memory performance: memoranda-related imagery. Conscious Cogn. 2014 Apr; 25:88-100. PMID: 24583457.
      View in: PubMed
    14. Merrick C, Godwin CA, Geisler MW, Morsella E. The olfactory system as the gateway to the neural correlates of consciousness. Front Psychol. 2014 Jan 10; 4:1011. PMID: 24454300; PMCID: PMC3887364.
    15. Robinson, M. M., & Morsella, E.he subjective effort of everyday mental tasks: Attending, assessing, and choosing. Motivation and Emotion. 2014; 38:832-843.
    16. Allen AK, Wilkins K, Gazzaley A, Morsella E. Conscious thoughts from reflex-like processes: a new experimental paradigm for consciousness research. Conscious Cogn. 2013 Dec; 22(4):1318-31. PMID: 24056177.
      View in: PubMed
    17. Morsella E, Poehlman TA. The inevitable contrast: Conscious vs. unconscious processes in action control. Front Psychol. 2013; 4:590. PMID: 24058351; PMCID: PMC3767904.
    18. Gray JR, Bargh JA, Morsella E. Neural correlates of the essence of conscious conflict: fMRI of sustaining incompatible intentions. Exp Brain Res. 2013 Sep; 229(3):453-65. PMID: 23727827.
      View in: PubMed
    19. Hubbard J, Rigby T, Godwin CA, Gazzaley A, Morsella E. Representations in working memory yield interference effects found with externally-triggered representations. Acta Psychol (Amst). 2013 Jan; 142(1):127-35. PMID: 23277339.
      View in: PubMed
    20. Poehlman TA, Jantz TK, Morsella E. Adaptive skeletal muscle action requires anticipation and "conscious broadcasting". Front Psychol. 2012; 3:369. PMID: 23264766; PMCID: PMC3525316.
    21. Hubbard J, Gazzaley A, Morsella E. Traditional response interference effects from anticipated action outcomes: a response-effect compatibility paradigm. Acta Psychol (Amst). 2011 Sep; 138(1):106-10. PMID: 21658661.
      View in: PubMed
    22. Molapour T, Berger CC, Morsella E. Did I read or did I name? Diminished awareness of processes yielding identical 'outputs'. Conscious Cogn. 2011 Dec; 20(4):1776-80. PMID: 21450491.
      View in: PubMed
    23. Morsella E, Berger CC, Krieger SC. Cognitive and neural components of the phenomenology of agency. Neurocase. 2011 Jun; 17(3):209-30. PMID: 20830644.
      View in: PubMed
    24. Lynn MT, Berger CC, Riddle TA, Morsella E. Mind control? Creating illusory intentions through a phony brain-computer interface. Conscious Cogn. 2010 Dec; 19(4):1007-12. PMID: 20542711.
      View in: PubMed
    25. Morsella E, Feinberg GH, Cigarchi S, Newton JW, Williams LE. Sources of avoidance motivation: Valence effects from physical effort and mental rotation. Motiv Emot. 2011 Sep; 35(3):296-305. PMID: 21957322.
      View in: PubMed
    26. Morsella E, Wilson LE, Berger CC, Honhongva M, Gazzaley A, Bargh JA. Subjective aspects of cognitive control at different stages of processing. Atten Percept Psychophys. 2009 Nov; 71(8):1807-24. PMID: 19933564; PMCID: PMC2784665.
    27. Morsella E, Gray JR, Krieger SC, Bargh JA. The essence of conscious conflict: subjective effects of sustaining incompatible intentions. Emotion. 2009 Oct; 9(5):717-28. PMID: 19803593; PMCID: PMC2762124.
    28. Morsella E, Krieger SC, Bargh JA. Minimal neuroanatomy for a conscious brain: homing in on the networks constituting consciousness. Neural Netw. 2010 Jan; 23(1):14-5. PMID: 19716260; PMCID: PMC2787707.
    29. Bargh JA, Morsella E. The Unconscious Mind. Perspect Psychol Sci. 2008 Jan; 3(1):73-9. PMID: 18584056.
      View in: PubMed
    30. Morsella E, Bargh JA. Supracortical consciousness: Insights from temporal dynamics, processing-content, and olfaction. Behav Brain Sci. 2007 May 01; 30(1):100. PMID: 19696906.
      View in: PubMed
    31. Levine LR, Morsella E, Bargh JA. THE PERVERSITY OF INANIMATE OBJECTS: STIMULUS CONTROL BY INCIDENTAL MUSICAL NOTATION. Soc Cogn. 2007 Apr; 25(2):267-283. PMID: 18509502.
      View in: PubMed
    32. Morsella E. The function of phenomenal states: supramodular interaction theory. Psychol Rev. 2005 Oct; 112(4):1000-21. PMID: 16262477.
      View in: PubMed
    33. Morsella E, Krauss RM. Muscular activity in the arm during lexical retrieval: implications for gesture-speech theories. J Psycholinguist Res. 2005 Jul; 34(4):415-27. PMID: 16142590.
      View in: PubMed
    34. Morsella E, Krauss RM. The role of gestures in spatial working memory and speech. Am J Psychol. 2004; 117(3):411-24. PMID: 15457809.
      View in: PubMed
    35. Morsella E. The function of phenomenal states: is there progress for the "softer problem" of consciousness? Psychol Rep. 2003 Oct; 93(2):435-40. PMID: 14650668.
      View in: PubMed
    36. Morsella E, Miozzo M. Evidence for a cascade model of lexical access in speech production. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2002 May; 28(3):555-63. PMID: 12018507.
      View in: PubMed
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