Guest Speaker: Katherine Duncan, PhD - Assistant Professor Department of Psychology, University of Toronto
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. Lastly, I will 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.