KATHERINE DUNCAN, Psychology Department, University of Toronto
Title: The influence of ongoing cognitive and neural processing on learning and memory
Ebbinghaus Empire Series 2015-2016
VIDEO RECORDING OF TALK
Abstract: Many insights into human memory have come from investigating cognitive and neural processes that are evoked during the successful formation and retrieval of memories. By contrast, I will present evidence that learning and memory are also shaped by ongoing processes that are unfolding both before memory encoding and retrieval begin and continue after a to-be-remembered event ends. I will begin by showing that people’s ability to identify subtle changes or to retrieve associations is modulated by recent exposure to novel cues. I illustrate this with behavioural research that identifies temporally extended biases in basic memory computations, namely pattern separation and completion. I will then show how different aspects of learning and memory are related to background functional connectivity, a method sensitive to ongoing processes that extend beyond trials, rather than responses evoked during trails. I conclude with a discussion of the significance of these findings. Namely, that these results are perhaps best explained by a model of memory that incorporates slow-acting neuromodulation in the processes of memory encoding and retrieval. Lastly, I briefly note some of the potential implications that such a memory model could have for understanding and manipulating memory in the healthy, aging, and diseased brain.
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