Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin
M.A. Charles University in Prague
Research Interests: Cognitive-Neuroscience, Memory
Overview: Memory allows us to use past experiences to navigate novel situations and inform future decisions. Because every event is unique, we need to use memory flexibly, drawing upon multiple relevant experiences to anticipate future judgments. Brain and Memory Lab studies how memories are formed and how they are linked to each other to create internal representations of the world that can guide our behavior. We investigate how different memory systems are implemented in the brain, how they represent information, and how they interact. In the quest for discovery, we rely on computer-based experiments, cognitive models of behavior, and advanced functional MRI methods.
My research focuses on how we build complex knowledge representations—such as schemas, cognitive maps or concepts—from simple learning experiences. Stacking memories as building blocks, we form knowledge that transcend direct experience, allowing us to use the memory for the past to guide behavior in the future. I am especially interested how the hippocampus—a brain structure critical for memory for individual events in our lives—interacts with the prefrontal cortex and other memory systems to support the flexible use of experience. My primary research tools include computer-based experiments, formal models of behavior, and advanced functional MRI methods.
Characterizing the impact of adversity, abuse, and neglect on adolescent amygdala resting-state functional connectivity.
Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2020 Dec 08;47:100894
Authors: Cheng TW, Mills KL, Miranda Dominguez O, Zeithamova D, Perrone A, Sturgeon D, Feldstein Ewing SW, Fisher PA, Pfeifer JH, Fair DA, Mackiewicz Seghete KL
Characterizing typologies of childhood adversity may inform the development of risk profiles and corresponding interventions aimed at mitigating its lifelong consequences. A neurobiological grounding of these typologies requires systematic comparisons of neural structure and function among individuals with different exposure histories. Using seed-to-whole brain analyses, this study examined associations between childhood adversity and amygdala resting-state functional connectivity (rs-fc) in adolescents aged 11-19 years across three independent studies (N = 223; 127 adversity group) in both general and dimensional models of adversity (comparing abuse and neglect). In a general model, adversity was associated with altered amygdala rs-fc with clusters within the left anterior lateral prefrontal cortex. In a dimensional model, abuse was associated with altered amygdala rs-fc within the orbitofrontal cortex, dorsal precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex, and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex/anterior mid-cingulate cortex, as well as within the dorsal attention, visual, and somatomotor networks. Neglect was associated with altered amygdala rs-fc with the hippocampus, supplementary motor cortex, temporoparietal junction, and regions within the dorsal attention network. Both general and dimensional models revealed unique regions, potentially reflecting pathways by which distinct histories of adversity may influence adolescent behavior, cognition, and psychopathology.
PMID: 33385788 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Tracking prototype and exemplar representations in the brain across learning.
Elife. 2020 Nov 26;9:
Authors: Bowman CR, Iwashita T, Zeithamova D
There is a long-standing debate about whether categories are represented by individual category members (exemplars) or by the central tendency abstracted from individual members (prototypes). Neuroimaging studies have shown neural evidence for either exemplar representations or prototype representations, but not both. Presently, we asked whether it is possible for multiple types of category representations to exist within a single task. We designed a categorization task to promote both exemplar and prototype representations and tracked their formation across learning. We found only prototype correlates during the final test. However, interim tests interspersed throughout learning showed prototype and exemplar representations across distinct brain regions that aligned with previous studies: prototypes in ventromedial prefrontal cortex and anterior hippocampus and exemplars in inferior frontal gyrus and lateral parietal cortex. These findings indicate that, under the right circumstances, individuals may form representations at multiple levels of specificity, potentially facilitating a broad range of future decisions.
PMID: 33241999 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]