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.


Front Psychol. 2021 Aug 20;12:669481. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.669481. eCollection 2021.


The ability to make inferences about related experiences is an important function of memory that allows individuals to build generalizable knowledge. In some cases, however, making inferences may lead to false memories when individuals misremember inferred information as having been observed. One factor that is known to increase the prevalence of false memories is the physical resemblance between new and old information. The extent to which physical resemblance has parallel effects on generalization and memory for the source of inferred associations is not known. To investigate the parallels between memory generalization and false memories, we conducted three experiments using an acquired equivalence paradigm and manipulated physical resemblance between items that made up related experiences. The three experiments showed increased generalization for higher levels of resemblance. Recognition and source memory judgments revealed that high rates of generalization were not always accompanied by high rates of false memories. Thus, physical resemblance across episodes may promote generalization with or without a trade-off in terms of impeding memory specificity.

PMID:34489790 | PMC:PMC8417596 | DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.669481