The Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory
How do we remember the past?
Why do we remember the past?
What affects the way we remember?
There are three main streams to our research:
- The mechanisms of memory
- To examine how we remember, we look at how the brain encodes, stores and
retrieves episodic and autobiographical memories, past events from a
specific time and place. We focus on understanding the contributions of
the hippocampus, a structure of the brain that is critical for memory,
and the surrounding structures. Our current research is driven by the
view that the hippocampus contributes to memory by forming multiple
types of associations among elements of an event (i.e., across space or
across time). Our work aims to disentangle hippocampal
contributions to these associative processes. Because no one part of
the brain is responsible for memory, our laboratory explores how the
hippocampus works in concert with different parts of the brain to
support different types of memories (e.g., vividly recalled memories).
- The functions of memory
- Our research also focuses on understanding the functions of detailed
recollection, or why we remember. A lot of recent work has shown that
behavioural and neural overlap between memory and non-memory tasks
(e.g., imagination, navigation). Many of this studies have implicated
the medial temporal lobes (MTL) and the hippocampus more specifically.
What we don’t know is the driving force behind this overlap. Our work
pursues the exciting hypothesis that the memory processes mediated by
the MTL will contribute to any retrieval task that benefits from the
associative reconstructive nature of these processes. Specifically, we
suggest that tasks that are ill-defined rather than tasks that are
well-defined will recruit episodic memory. This has implications not
only for our understanding of memory, but also suggests an added
consequence of memory loss.
- Individual differences in memory
Remembering is a very individual process: How you remember an event is
probably quite different than how your friend remembers the very same
circumstance. This line of work incorporates how individual differences
in remembering are reflected in the brain by identifying how
differences in the structures and function relate to variability in
both subjective ad objective memory abilities. Future work will also
incorporate other measures of individual differences, such as genetic
variations, to the study of memory
- Behavioural experiments
- Patient Populations
- Virtual Reality