Alan Castel


Alan Castel

Ph.D.: University of Toronto (2004)
Primary Area: Cognitive Psychology
Address: 6518 Pritzker Hall
Phone: (310) 206-9262

Research and Teaching Interests:

How do we remember and why do we forget, and how does this change across the adult lifespan?  In general, my research interests focus on human memory, attention and cognitive aging. In a world where we are often overwhelmed with information, my research focuses on how people can selectively remember important information.  This includes the strategic control over memory and attentional processes, how value influences memory, expertise, visual attention, memory for numerical information, neuropsychological and behavioral models of associative memory and aging, metacognition and decision making, and how various memory disorders influence performance.  In addition, I am interested in applied aspects of learning, memory, and cognition, such as eyewitness memory, consumer decision making, and scams and financial fraud that target younger and older adults.

The memory and lifespan cognition lab uses a variety of methodologies (including laboratory-based tasks, naturalistic observation studies, and structured interviews) to gain a better understanding of how memory and attention change across the lifespan. Some of our current research examines how goals can motivate and improve memory in both younger and older adults.  Our research can help students optimize learning in self-regulated learning environments, and help older adults focus on remembering important information in naturalistic settings.

Accepting New Graduate Students?  Yes


Alan Castel is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.  He studies learning, memory, and aging.  He is interested in how younger and older adults can selectively remember important information. He lectures internationally to people of all ages.  His work has been featured in the New York Times and Time Magazine. His new general audience book is entitled Better with Age: The Psychology of Successful Aging.  He received his PhD from the University of Toronto, did a fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis, and has been on faculty at UCLA since 2006.  He has received the Springer Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association, a Fulbright Scholar Award, and the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award.  His research has been supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging and the National Science Foundation.

Representative Publications:

  • Castel. A. D. (2024). Memory selectivity in older age.  Current Opinion in Psychology, 55, 101744.
  • Murphy, D. H., Schwartz, S. T., Alberts, K., Siegel, A. L. M., Carone, B. J., Castel, A. D., & Drolet, A. (2023). Clinically studied or clinically proven? Memory for claims in print advertisements.  Applied Cognitive Psychology, 37, 1085-1093
  • Silaj, K. M., Agadzhanyan, K., & Castel, A. D. (2023). Value-directed learning: Schematic reward structure facilitates learning. Memory & Cognition, 51, 1527-1546.
  • Han, L. T., Cohen, M. S., He, L. K., Green, L. M., Knowlton, B. J., Castel, A. D., & Rissman, J. (2023). Establishing a causal role for left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex in value-directed memory encoding with high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation. Neuropsychologia, 181, 108489
  • Whatley, M. C., & Castel, A. D. (2022). The role of metacognition and schematic support in younger and older adults’ episodic memory. Memory & Cognition, 50, 601-616.
  • Murphy, D. H., Hoover, K. M., Agadzhanyan, K., Kuehn, J. C., Castel, A. D. (2022).  Learning in double time: The effect of lecture video speed on immediate and delayed comprehension. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 36, 69-82.
  • Knowlton, B. J., & Castel, A. D. (2022). Memory and reward-based learning: A value-directed remembering perspective.  Annual Review of Psychology, 73, 25-52.
  • Murphy, D. H., Schwartz, S. T., & Castel, A. D. (2022). Serial and strategic memory processes in goal-directed selective remembering. Cognition, 225, 105178.
  • Murphy, D. H., Agadzhanyan, K., Whatley, M. C., & Castel, A. D. (2021). Metacognition and fluid intelligence in value-directed remembering. Metacognition and Learning16, 685-709.
  • Silaj, K. M., Schwartz, S. T., Castel, A. D., & McDonough, I. M. (2021). Is the future bright or bleak?  Assessing past and future outlooks across the adult lifespan. Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine, 7, 1-10.
  • Silaj, K. M., Schwartz, S. T., Siegel, A. L. M., & Castel, A. D. (2021).  Test anxiety and metacognitive performance in the classroom. Educational Psychology Review, 33, 1809-1834.
  • Whatley, M. C., & Castel, A. D. (2020).  Improving expectations regarding aging in younger adults: A classroom study. Educational Gerontology, 46, 785-795.
  • Siegel, A. L. M. & Castel, A. D. (2019). Age-related differences in metacognition for memory capacity and selectivity.  Memory, 27, 1236-1249.
  • Hennessee, J. P., Patterson, T. K., Castel, A. D., & Knowlton, B. J. (2019). Forget me not: Encoding processes in value-directed remembering. Journal of Memory and Language, 106, 29-39.
  • Middlebrooks, C. D., & Castel, A. D. (2018). Self-regulated learning of important information under sequential and simultaneous encoding conditions.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 44, 779-792.
  • Hargis, M.B., & Castel, A.D. (2018). Improving medication understanding and adherence using principles of memory and metacognition. Policy Insights from Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 5, 147-154.
  • Middlebrooks, C. D., Kerr, T. K., & Castel, A. D. (2017). Selectively distracted: Divided attention and memory for important information.  Psychological Science, 28, 1103-1115.
  • Hargis, M. B., & Castel, A. D. (2017). Younger and older adults’ associative memory for social information: The role of information importance.  Psychology and Aging, 32, 325-330.
  • Middlebrooks, C. D., Murayama, K., & Castel, A. D. (2017). Test expectancy and memory for important information.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43, 972-985
  • Hennessee, J. P., Castel, A. D., & Knowlton, B. J. (2017). Recognizing what matters: Value improves recognition by selectively enhancing recollection. Journal of Memory and Language, 94, 195-205.
  • Castel, A. D., Friedman, M. F., McGillivray, S., Flores, C. C., Murayama, K., Kerr, T., & Drolet, A. (2016). I owe you: Age-related similarities and differences in associative memory for gains and losses. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 23, 549-565.
  • McGillivray, S., Murayama, K., & Castel, A. D. (2015). Thirst for knowledge: The effects of curiosity and interest on memory in younger and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 30, 835-841.
  • Blake, A. B., Nazarian, M., & Castel, A. D. (2015). The Apple of the mind’s eye: Everyday attention, metamemory, and reconstructive memory for the Apple logo. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68, 858-865.

Alan Castel's Research and the Memory & Lifespan Cognition Lab