Section The proposed research will be completed at Boston College as part of the R00 phase of the award. Emotion has complex effects on episodic memory, enhancing certain aspects of memory, such as item recognition, but not other forms of memory, such as memory for context. Yet, the mechanisms underlying these phenomena are poorly understood. In general, episodic memories depend on the integrity of neural structures within the medial temporal lobes, and these structures are connected with two distinct cortico-hippocampal systems. The amygdala?known to mediate emotion effects on memory? is differentially connected with these systems, leading to the proposal that emotional memory effects can be explained in terms of differential modulation of cortico-hippocampal systems. The proposed research will address these questions by using a combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and transcranial electrical stimulation (tES). These methods will allow investigation of how emotion influences activity in cortical and hippocampal regions and alters the oscillatory signatures of memory processes. During the mentored phase of the proposal, which was conducted at UC Davis with Drs. Charan Ranganath and Andrew Yonelinas, the candidate obtained new training in high-resolution fMRI and EEG/ tES. During the current independent phase of the proposal, the candidate will use these methods to test novel predictions about the roles of cortico-hippocampal systems and theta oscillations in driving emotional memory phenomena. The candidate will establish her research laboratory dedicated to the cognitive neuroscience of memory and its modulation by emotion. The research environment at Boston College is optimal for this work. Boston College has committed substantial resources to psychology research, offering facilities and resources within the department and access to world-class imaging facilities in the Boston area. Thus, the research plan builds on a strong foundation of training, and it will take place in an atmosphere conducive to productive research. The results will significantly advance current understanding of the neural mechanisms supporting arousal-mediated memory modulation.

Public Health Relevance

Section Learning and memory impairments are a central problem in many psychiatric and neurological disorders. The proposed research will provide new insights into the neural mechanisms of memory and the influence of arousal processes on these memory systems. This research will be useful to understanding memory biases and impairments in disorders such as major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Transition Award (R00)
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Special Emphasis Panel (NSS)
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Buhring, Bettina D
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Boston College
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Chestnut Hill
United States
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