Dr Alexa Morcom
Cognitive neuroscience of memory, and memory in healthy ageing
My lab’s research focuses on recollection of events – episodic memory. Recollection is highly specific: people can vividly remember unique events even though they are similar to many other experiences. We are interested in how people retrieve relevant details, how they avoid confusion between similar memories, and how these abilities evolve in healthy ageing. We use multimodal brain imaging and behavioural methods in humans, combining traditional with multivariate and model-based analytic techniques.
One important set of questions concern the neural circuits of memory control and selection. Recollection occurs when a memory cue triggers pattern completion in the hippocampus, leading to the reinstatement of cortical neural patterns that were present during the remembered events. But how do people select which memories are reinstated? In the lab we are currently using both EEG and fMRI to examine the dynamics of reinstatement with both time-resolved and anatomically-resolved data. In this PhD you will investigate the control leading to reinstatement in youth and ageing, and test a longstanding theory that older people rely more on external cues to trigger memory retrieval - a form of ‘environmental support’ - because their internal control functions are less effective.
Strong statistical and programming skills will be an advantage, as well as experience designing experiments in human neuroscience or psychology. Students on rotation will be expected to take taught courses to complement their background but will also build these skills in the lab.
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