The ability to focus thought in a goal-directed manner depends critically on our ability to ignore or inhibit currently irrelevant information. The implementation of such inhibitory mechanisms, however, is often associated with subsequent costs for the ignored information. The primary goals of this research are to investigate whether inhibitory mechanisms are recruited during the encoding of new memories and to specify the neural mechanisms through which inhibition serves to modulate memory. Prior research has established that memory encoding depends on attentional control mechanisms that are engaged to select which aspects of the environment are to be remembered. While attentional modulation of information processing is typically thought to be accomplished by turning up the """"""""gain"""""""" for attended streams, attentional control could also be accomplished through inhibitory mechanisms that gate out distraction from currently irrelevant processing streams. The proposed multi-modal research program will rely on behavioral, functional magnetic resonance imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation methods to (a) address whether the role of attention during encoding is involved, at least in part, in the inhibition of irrelevant information, and (b) delineate the contributions of prefrontal and parietal lobe mechanisms to inhibitory modulations of memory.
Through increased specification of the attentional mechanisms involved in successful encoding, we can hope to better understand the nature and consequences of attention and memory dysfunction in a number of patient populations (e.g., individuals with schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and normal aging).
|Levy, Benjamin J; Wagner, Anthony D (2013) Measuring Memory Reactivation With Functional MRI: Implications for Psychological Theory. Perspect Psychol Sci 8:72-8|
|Levy, Benjamin J; Anderson, Michael C (2012) Purging of memories from conscious awareness tracked in the human brain. J Neurosci 32:16785-94|
|Levy, Benjamin J; Wagner, Anthony D (2011) Cognitive control and right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex: reflexive reorienting, motor inhibition, and action updating. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1224:40-62|