Cognition Workshop 5/25: Dr. Alexandra Cohen

Motivated learning and memory processes across development

The ability to learn from and remember salient information is essential for an individual to survive and thrive throughout life. Considerable research has focused on emotional reactivity, regulation, and their neural mechanisms during the transitional stage of adolescence. However, fewer studies have examined how emotion and motivation shape how we learn and what we remember from childhood to adulthood. My work aims to characterize how aversive and appetitive motivational inputs influence learning and lasting memories across adolescence. We find that the context in which learning takes place modulates age-related differences in learning from positive and negative outcomes. We also find memory enhancements by both aversive and appetitive motivation across all ages as well as adolescent-specific differences in reward-motivated memory. Neuroimaging results suggest potential developmental differences in the contributions of subcortical and prefrontal cortical brain mechanisms supporting reward-motivated memory. Ultimately, this research has the potential to uncover cognitive and neural mechanisms through which motivation shapes the memories that drive future behavior from childhood to adulthood.

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