• Research

Our Focus

Our ability to learn and remember new information forms an integral part of human cognition and behavior. Our previous experiences often guide our choices and our ability to maintain a record of our experiences allows us to acquire increasingly specialized skills and knowledge. The importance of memory function in our daily functioning is particularly evident, when memory fails us, as is the case with the increasingly more prevalent instances of Alzheimer’s disease. Research in our lab focuses on the neural basis of human memory function in health, aging and disease.We are currently working on a number of projects in the following areas.

Memory Impairment in Aging and Alzheimer’s disease

Aging is often associated with changes in memory and in some cases with significant impairments in memory function. Increasing numbers of older adults develop Alzheimer’s disease dementia resulting in a complete inability to remember people, places and events with devastating consequences for these patients and their families. However, the majority of older adults do not develop Alzheimer’s disease and some older adults experience no changes in their memory function with advancing age.

Using behavioral and high-resolution fMRI studies in patients and healthy older adults, our studies aim to understand age-related changes in memory function and the compounding effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

These studies have led us to the development of potential interventions designed to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease that are currently being tested through the HOPE4MCI clinical trial.

Neural Networks in Learning and Memory

Our ability to learn and remember different types of information depends a broad network of brain regions that each support a different aspect of memory function but heavily interact and work together to support this fundamental aspect of human cognition. However, exactly what aspects of memory depend on which brain regions and how these networks interact, remains poorly understood.

Using behavioral experiments and functional neuroimaging methods during cognitive tasks and rest, we study how various networks in the brain interact and support memory for facts, events and places.

Memory modulation and impairment in Parkinson’s disease

Many patients with Parkinson’s disease experience significant cognitive symptoms and those who do most often report problems with their memory. In addition, patients with Parkinson’s disease report significantly greater rates of anxiety affecting their learning, memory and decision making.

Our studies in this area employ behavioral experiments and multimodal neuroimaging approaches to focus on the role of memory impairment and anxiety on cognitive impairment and comorbidity in Parkinson’s disease.

Hippocampal Function in Neuropsychiatry

Cognitive impairment and particularly impairments in learning and memory are part of a number of neuropsychiatric conditions including, schizophrenia, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety disorders.

Through a number of collaborations our projects focus on the role of brain networks associated with memory function and modulation of memory function in these neuropsychiatric conditions with a focus on opportunities for intervention. In these projects we employ neuropsychological assessment, experimental behavioral assessment and advanced neuroimaging methods to study the various patient groups.

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