Dasa Zeithamova-Demircan

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Member, ION

Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin
M.A. Charles University in Prague

325 LISB


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.


Related Articles

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]