Assistant Professor of Psychology
Cognition and Brain Science
Ph.D. (2004) Neurobiology
It is well known that episodic memory is adversely affected in healthy aging but it remains unclear the extent to which the component processes supporting episodic memory are impaired. While it has generally been believed that older adults exhibit larger deficits in recollection for contextual details about prior events than in acontextual familiarity, there is evidence to suggest this is not necessarily the rule in aging. I am interested in investigating how and why these processes are affected in healthy aging.
Specifically, how do various factors, such as performance variability, experimental measurement methods, stimulus/context type and cerebral volume contribute to the degree of impairment in these component processes in older adults? How are these memory processes functionally organized in the brain, both temporally and spatially, and affected by healthy aging? Are some brain regions supporting memory more susceptible to the effects of aging than others? Is there evidence that some older adults "compensate" for underlying neural deficits by recruiting other less affected brain regions and/or cognitive processes in the service of memory performance? Which, if any, of the brain regions implicated in episodic memory by neuroimaging are necessary for successful memory performance? To address these and other issues related to aging I use multiple experimental techiniques, such as behavioral testing, electrophysiology (ERP), functional and structural neuroimaging and neuropsychological studies of humans with focal brain damage.