Mark Fenske

Neuroscience & Applied Cognitive Science
519-824-4120 x56411
MacKinnon Extension

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Mark Fenske, PhD, is a cognitive-neuroscientist and Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Guelph. His research combines neuroimaging techniques with studies of human behaviour to examine factors that are critical for healthy cognitive and emotional functioning. His writing, teaching, and public speaking are likewise aimed at helping others understand that learning a bit about the brain can be helpful in enhancing performance and well-being. Dr. Fenske's efforts to translate scientific findings and make them accessible to the public at large includes the bestselling book, 'The Winner's Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success' and his popular 'Better Brain' column, which regularly appeared in the Globe & Mail.

Cognition-emotion interactions, attention, memory, visual cognition, auditory cognition, neuroimaging




We study the interface of cognition, emotion, and motivation using a combination of cognitive-behavioural, neuroimaging, and psychophysiological techniques. We are particularly interested in understanding how mechanisms of cognitive control, such as attention-, response-, and memory-related inhibition, alter our affective evaluations of associated stimuli. We also examine how the affective state of boredom is linked to problems with attention and perceptual impairments, such as age-related hearing loss.

Selected Publications

Recent publications involving students/trainees (boldface).

Spencer-Mueller, E. K. & Fenske, Mark J. (2023). Note-taking for the win: Doodling does not reduce boredom or mind-wandering, nor enhance attention or retention of lecture material. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Available (online). 1-17.

Crawford, C. M. L., Ramlackhan, K.,  Singh, G. & Fenske, Mark J. (2022). Subjective impact of age-related hearing loss is worse for those who routinely experience boredom and failures of attention. Ear and Hearing 44(1):p 199-208.

Driscoll, R. L., Clancy, E. M., & Fenske, Mark J. (2021). Motor-response execution versus inhibition alters social-emotional evaluations of specific individuals. Acta Psychologica, 215, 1-8.

Clancy, E. M., Fiacconi, C. M., & Fenske, Mark J. (2019). Response inhibition immediately elicits negative affect and devalues associated stimuli: Evidence from facial electromyography. Progress in Brain Research, Available (online), 1-23, doi:

Triglav, J., Howe, E., Cheema, J., Dube, B., Fenske, Mark J., et al. (2019). Physiological and cognitive measures during prolonged sitting: Comparisons between a standard and multi-axial office chair. Applied Ergonomics: human factors in technology and society, 78, 176-183, doi:

De Vito, D., & Fenske, Mark J. (2018). Affective evidence that inhibition is involved in separating accessory representations from active representations in visual working memory. Visual Cognition, 26 (8), 583-600, doi:

De Vito, D., Ferrey, A. E., Fenske, Mark J., & Al-Aidroos, N. (2018). Cognitive-behavioral and electrophysiological evidence of the affective consequences of ignoring stimulus representations in working memory. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 18 (3), 460-475, doi: 10.3758/s13415-018-0580-x.

Driscoll, R. L., Quinn de Launay, K., & Fenske, Mark J. (2018). Less approach, more avoidance: Response inhibition has motivational consequences for sexual stimuli that reflect changes in affective value not a lingering global brake on behaviourP. sychonomic Bulletin & Review, 25 (1), 463-471, doi: 10.3758/s13423-017-1291-y.

De Vito, D., Al-Aidroos, N., & Fenske, Mark J. (2017). Neural evidence that inhibition is linked to the affective devaluation of distractors that match the contents of working memory. Neuropsychologia, 99, 259-269, doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.03.022.

Driscoll, R. L., Barclay, P., & Fenske, Mark J. (2017). To be spurned no more: The affective and behavioral consequences of social and nonsocial rejection. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24 (2), 566-573, doi: 10.3758/s13423-016-1114-6.

De Vito, D., & Fenske, Mark J. (2017). Suppressing memories of words and familiar objects results in their affective devaluation: Evidence from Think/No-think tasks. Cognition, 162, 1-11, doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2017.01.020.

Ferrey, A. E., Burleigh, T. J., & Fenske, Mark J. (2015). Stimulus-category competition, inhibition, and affective devaluation: A novel account of the uncanny valley. Frontiers in Psychology, 6 (249), 1-15, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00249.

Ferrey, A. E., Frischen, A., & Fenske, Mark J. (2012). Hot or not: Response inhibition reduces the hedonic value and
motivational incentive of sexual stimuli. Frontiers in Psychology, 3 (575), 1-7, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00575.

Eastwood, J. D., Frischen, A., Fenske, Mark J., & Smilek, D. (2012). The unengaged mind: Defining boredom in terms
of attention. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 482-495.

Frischen, A., Ferrey, A. E., Burt, D., Pistchick, M., & Fenske, M. J. (2012). The affective consequences of cognitive inhibition: Devaluation or neutralization? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 38, 169-179.

Hanif, A., Ferrey, A. E., Frischen, A., Pozzobon, K., Eastwood, J. D., Smilek, D., Fenske, M.J. (2012). Manipulations of attention enhance self-regulation. Acta Psychologica, 139, 104-110.