castel's picture
Alan Castel
University of Toronto (2004)
Primary Area:
Cognitive Psychology
6518 Pritzker Hall
(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.   

Representative Publications:
  • Siegel, A. L. M., Graup, R. S., & Castel, A. D. (2020). Emotion-enhanced binding of numerical information in younger and older adults.  Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73, 134-145.
  • 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.
  • Siegel, A. L. M., & Castel, A. D. (2018). Memory for important item-location associations in younger and older adults.  Psychology and Aging, 33, 30-45.
  • 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.