Remembering the Past
The hippocampus doesn't work in isolation, and is part of a whole-brain network supporting AM retrieval. We've have found that distinct parts of this network are associated with different types of memory (e.g., specific vs. general AMs) and different "routes" to memory (e.g., (e.g., generative vs. direct retrieval). Currently, we are exploring the contributions of other parts of this network to AM retrieval, such as the cerebellum.
Imagining the Future
More recently we have found that in depression, imagining the future appears to be more affected than remembering the past. This finding, along with increased hippocampal activity, suggest that future simulation is a more intensive process than remembering - perhaps reflecting the fact that future events are novel constructions that require encoding. More recently, we have begun to explore other factors that contribute to imagination, including the familiarity of details from episodic memory and creativity, as well as the ways in which imagination can affect memory accuracy.
Memory and Identity
We have also found ways in which memory reductions can be mitigated. With collaborators at Macquarie University, we found that older adults retrieve more episodic detail about their past experiences when they remember with their spouse as compared to when they remember alone.
In a current work on aging, we are examining whether differences in brain variability underpin changes in cognition. We are also using fMRI to understand why the ability to recognize some emotions (e.g., fear) is reduced in older age while other emotions (e.g., disgust) is relatively preserved.
Research Tools: SciToS Autobiographical Interview Scoring (AIS)
Much of our behavioural research involves scoring of autobiographical narratives, including memories (e.g., past events), imaginings (e.g., future events), and life stories. In 2015, we worked with SciToS (Scientific Tool Set) to develop a module for their software package that digitises narrative scoring methods such as the Autobiographical Interview (Levine et al., 2002).
The SciToS Autobiographical Interview Scoring (AIS) Module can be used for:
- Segmentation: Parse narratives into discrete textual units
- Scoring: Classify textual units with customized tags that can be organised into categories and colour coded
- Tallying: Count the number of units per tag, tag category, condition, participant
- Organising: Scored narratives for entire studies can be stored in an organised manner
- Exporting: Data can be exported in various file formats
- Wickner, C., Englert, C., Addis, D.R. (2015). Developing a tool for Autobiographical Interview scoring. KiwiCAM Conference, Wellington, New Zealand.
- SciToS AIS module [Computer software]. (2015). Retrieved from "https://github.com/scientific-tool-set"