We are broadly interested in human memory. A sample of current research lines includes:
1. Individual differences in human learning abilities.
People differ with respect to their ability to learn and retain new information not previously experienced. We have developed a way to study these differences using a combination of behavior and functional MRI with the goal of identifying markers of learning ability. In another branch of this research, we are studying people with exceptional long-term memory abilities with the aim of better understanding how we all might improve this capacity.
2. How and why retrieval practice aids memory.
For learners of all ages and abilities, one reliable way to enhance learning and retention is to practice retrieval of the information one wants to retain. We are examing how retrieval practice enhances memory in learners in various ways, from examining real-life classroom performance in schoolchildren to examining neural substrates of memory retrieval in adult learners.
3. Neural substrates of episodic and autobiographical memory.
Much of the research on human memory has utilized lists of words and similar materials as a means to understand human memory retrieval write large. How well can one understand the richness of a lifetime of memories through the use of such simplified materials? One line of work explores the differences in neural substrates of human memory retrieval as a function of the types of information being retrieved (i.e., recently-encountered materials or events from one’s lifetime).
4. Episodic future thought and its relation to remembering.
Humans are facile at recollecting the past and envisioning plausible, specific future scenarios. Recent work in our lab and elsewhere has shown the neural substrates of the two capacities to be highly similar. Ongoing work seeks to understand the markers of memory and how they differ from rich imagining.