Cognition Workshop 11/17: Dr. Emily Cowan

How consolidation supports adaptive memories

We rely on our ability to recall the past to guide behavior in the present. However, since we cannot remember everything we encounter, it is adaptive for memory systems to prioritize retaining salient, goal-relevant information. Memories are thought to be stabilized in the brain as they become supported by distributed neocortical networks, facilitated by interactions between the hippocampus and cortex, particularly during periods of sleep. My research focuses on understanding the adaptive nature of consolidation processes, examining how consolidation not only prioritizes the retention of goal-relevant memories, but also reorganizes the way memories are represented within and across brain regions. Through such transformation, memories for related but distinct experiences can become integrated, leading to an abstracted trace that can be flexibly generalized to future experiences. In this talk I’ll present three studies examining how consolidation supports such adaptive prioritization and transformation processes, using behavioral measures and functional neuroimaging methods including task-based and resting-state functional connectivity and multivariate pattern analyses. I’ll present data showing sleep-dependent changes in the organization of memories in cortical regions and along the long-axis of the hippocampus, as well as work examining the scale of cortical regions that undergo such experience-dependent changes in service of selectively retaining novel information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *