- Uncovering how memory network interactions affect learning and memory
- The brain is organized into networks that support different cognitive functions, such as memory. For example, the hippocampus is connected with other regions that help support the learning of declarative information (i.e. memory for facts, events, and objects), whereas the striatum and its connections support procedural learning (i.e. skill and habit learning). How these and other networks interact is unclear and an ongoing focus of this lab. By perturbing these networks with rTMS and measuring corresponding changes with fMRI and memory tasks, we can gain mechanistic evidence of how cross-talk between networks affects memory.
- Developing targeted treatments to reverse age-related memory decline and rescue memory in patients with neurological disorders.
- Older adults make up an increasing proportion of the United States population and many will experience age-related memory decline, and many older adults also suffer from neurological disorders that affect memory, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Currently, there are no accepted treatments capable of mitigating memory deficits in these populations. A central goal of the lab is to use rTMS to develop targeted treatments to mitigate the effects of memory loss by identifying mechanisms that cause them.
- Understanding how reinforcement networks affect learning and memory.
- Memory networks do not function in isolation. Rather, they interact with other networks that support attention, cognitive control, and emotions. For example, a network of brain regions support reward-related learning and activity within this network can improve memory. A goal of the lab is to identify the network of brain regions that support reward-related enhancement of memory and determine how reward and mnemonic networks interact to support this phenomenon. Using fMRI, we identify brain networks involved in these interactions, and by using rTMS, we can causally test the role of these interactions in reward-related enhancement of memory.