Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Ph.D. Stanford University
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Yale University
Research Interests: Cognitive Neuroscience, Memory, Cognitive Control, fMRI Methods
Overview: I am interested in how our perceptual experiences are transformed into memories and how we recreate and selectively recall these experiences. Research in my lab makes use of behavioral and neuroimaging methods (primarily fMRI) with an emphasis on applying machine learning algorithms and multivariate pattern analyses to neuroimaging data in order to understand how memories are represented and transformed in distributed patterns of brain activity.
Some of the specific topics my lab addresses include: What are the cognitive and neural mechanisms that cause forgetting? How is competition between memories signaled and resolved in the brain during retrieval? How do we reduce interference between memories during encoding? Addressing these questions involves understanding the interactions and relative contributions of fronto-parietal cortex and medial temporal lobe structures.
Experience-dependent hippocampal pattern differentiation prevents interference during subsequent learning.
Nat Commun. 2016 Apr 06;7:11066
Authors: Favila SE, Chanales AJ, Kuhl BA
The hippocampus is believed to reduce memory interference by disambiguating neural representations of similar events. However, there is limited empirical evidence linking representational overlap in the hippocampus to memory interference. Likewise, it is not fully understood how learning influences overlap among hippocampal representations. Using pattern-based fMRI analyses, we tested for a bidirectional relationship between memory overlap in the human hippocampus and learning. First, we show that learning drives hippocampal representations of similar events apart from one another. These changes are not explained by task demands to discriminate similar stimuli and are fully absent in visual cortical areas that feed into the hippocampus. Second, we show that lower representational overlap in the hippocampus benefits subsequent learning by preventing interference between similar memories. These findings reveal targeted experience-dependent changes in hippocampal representations of similar events and provide a critical link between memory overlap in the hippocampus and behavioural expressions of memory interference.
PMID: 27925613 [PubMed - in process]