Sarah DuBrow

Assistant Professor, Psychology
Member, ION

Ph.D. NYU Department of Psychology


Research Interests:  Cognitive Neuroscience, Learning, Memory, Decision Making

Overview: Why does our subjective experience of the world feel structured when, in fact, it is continuous? How do our internal and external states influence this structure? Research in the DuBrow lab seeks to understand how we learn the structure of our environments and how we use that structure to organize our memories and guide our decisions. Using neuroimaging methods, we investigate how neural representations can mirror the true structure of the external world, and, at the same time, distort that structure to achieve behavioral goals. By mapping between the brain and behavior, we hope to shed light on fundamental organizing principles in human cognition.


Structuring Memory Through Inference-Based Event Segmentation.

Top Cogn Sci. 2020 May 27;:

Authors: Shin YS, DuBrow S

Although the stream of information we encounter is continuous, our experiences tend to be discretized into meaningful clusters, altering how we represent our past. Event segmentation theory proposes that clustering ongoing experience in this way is adaptive in that it promotes efficient online processing as well as later reconstruction of relevant information. A growing literature supports this theory by demonstrating its important behavioral consequences. Yet the exact mechanisms of segmentation remain elusive. Here, we provide a brief overview of how event segmentation influences ongoing processing, subsequent memory retrieval, and decision making as well as some proposed underlying mechanisms. We then explore how beliefs, or inferences, about what generates our experience may be the foundation of event cognition. In this inference-based framework, experiences are grouped together according to what is inferred to have generated them. Segmentation then occurs when the inference changes, creating an event boundary. This offers an alternative to dominant theories of event segmentation, allowing boundaries to occur independent of perceptual change and even when transitions are predictable. We describe how this framework can reconcile seemingly contradictory empirical findings (e.g., memory can be biased toward both extreme episodes and the average of episodes). Finally, we discuss open questions regarding how time is incorporated into the inference process.

PMID: 32459391 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]