Rui Mata

Rui MataWho are you, and what do you do?

I’m Rui Mata, an Assistant Professor for Cognitive and Decision Sciences at the University of Basel. I try to understand the life span development of judgment and decision making.

I have focused quite a bit on aging and the question of whether age-related changes impact decision abilities. As one may expect, the answer seems to be: It depends!

The impact of life span development on decision making seems to depend strongly on the demands of specific tasks or ecologies. For example, older individuals have difficulties making decisions involving sequential retrieval of attributes from memory but be on par with younger adults when information is conveniently summarized. In other words, an ecological perspective is needed to understand the impact of aging on specific decision tasks or domains.

What do you consider your most important research tool(s) on your computer to get research done (multiple responses are welcome)?

I use an eclectic mix of methods in my research, including meta-analyses, behavioral experiments, large-scale surveys, computational modeling, and, more recently, neuroimaging. Different tools are therefore required.

These days my favorite tool for data management, analysis, modeling, and creating figures is R. I used to rely more heavily on MATLAB and to some extent still do (such as for SPM), but R fulfills more and more of my computing needs. R seems to have almost everything one can think of (and more!). Moreover, when something is missing it usually doesn’t take long before some guy in a basement writes a free package to handle your problem. I’m also a big fan of R-Studio and Shiny

I switched to Apple about 5 years ago and I since use quite a bit of Apple-friendly software, including Mail (to manage different email accounts), Calendar (to manage private and shared calendars), Keynote (a very good alternative to Powerpoint), and Papers (a scientific literature management and citation software), among others.

I use Ms Word for word processing but I’m meekly looking for alternatives and I dream of a future in which I can easily generate a table in R that gets automatically read into a manuscript (without me having to become a LaTeX whiz or spend 4.5 hours formatting tables in R).

I program most experiments in E-prime, which I often regret because of numerous crashes, version incompatibility issues, and so on, but from my experience, the hurdle to whip-up a study is still lower than in C# or some MATLAB toolboxes.

I also use dedicated software for a few specific purposes, such as G*Power (to compute a priori power, how else would one do it?), GingerALE (for ALE meta-analyses), or Mango (for nifti visualization)

What do you consider your most important research tool(s) outside of your computer to get research done (multiple responses are welcome)?

The internet makes the top of the list, but a large monitor (for writing) and a printer (for printing papers!, yes, I’m that old school) are not to be scoffed at.

What is your favorite tip for getting writing done?

Make time and have a good night of sleep. Knowing the topic well and caffeine also help.

Curriculum Vitae Rui Mata

Rui’s favorite paper:

Mata, R., Schooler, L. J. & Rieskamp, J. (2007). The aging decision maker: Cognitive aging and the adaptive selection of decision strategies. Psychology and Aging, 22, 796-810.