In our efforts to understand the psychology and neurobiology of learning, memory, and cognitive control, we adopt a multi-modal approach that combines behavior, including in virtual environments, with functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and with scalp and intracranial electroencephalography (EEG). Computational modeling and machine learning approaches –– multivariate pattern classification and pattern similarity analyses –– are leveraged to relate neural signals to cognition and behavior, providing quantitative assays of mnemonic mechanisms and representations.
Building and Retrieving Memories
Multiple lines of research focus on the psychological and neural mechanisms of episodic memory. Projects include studies that aim to: (a) delineate hippocampal, medial temporal cortical, and frontoparietal computations during encoding and retrieval; (b) quantify memory-based prospection and the contribution of prospection to goal-directed behavior; (c) examine when "big-loop" recurrence and memory integration enable generalization; and (d) understand how stress alters the neurobiology and behavioral expressions of memory.
Attention, Memory, and Multitasking
Memory and goal-directed behavior depend, in part, on attention and cognitive control. Our research includes studies that seek to: (a) delineate the neural substrates of cognitive control, and the mechanisms that regulate control; (b) quantify attentional states and goal-state representation, at the single-trial level and the subject level; (c) understand how fluctuations in attentional states and control relate to fluctuations in learning and remembering; and (d) determine if and how multitasking, including with digital media, affects attention, control, and memory.
Aging, Memory, and Alzheimer's Disease
Memory decline is a frequent challenge for older adults, yet people differ in the extent to which memory changes with age. (1) The Stanford Aging & Memory Study (SAMS) seeks to understand how individual differences in memory relate to brain structure, brain function, and molecular and genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease, with a key goal of identifying predictors of memory decline and dementia. (2) The Attention, Memory, and Aging Study at Stanford (AMASS) seeks to understand how age-related lapses of attention and the loss of goal-states relate to ineffective learning and remembering and to preclinical Alzheimer's disease.