Research Interests


The Rissman Memory Lab investigates the ways in which goal-directed attentional control processes serve to modulate the formation, maintenance, and retrieval of memories. We use functional MRI techniques to not only elucidate the contributions of individual brain regions to mnemonic processing and its regulation, but also to characterize the critically important interactions between brain regions that ultimately give rise to these cognitive processes. Furthermore, our work seeks to exploit the rich informational content of distributed brain activity and connectivity patterns in order to gain insights into the mnemonic computations being performed in distinct neural circuits and their relationship to behavior. Our research has showcased how regions of the prefrontal cortex, known to be important for cognitive control, interact with perceptual areas of the brain, as well as with memory-related areas such as the hippocampus, to help prioritize the memorization of relevant information. We are actively examining how these neural networks dynamically adjust their connectivity as we toggle the focus of our attention between stimuli in the external world and the thoughts and memories that occupy our internal world. Our experiments often strive to study memory in naturalistic contexts, for instance by using wearable cameras to capture people’s real-world events or by having learning occur within immersive virtual reality environments. We are also interested in understanding how the brain’s cognitive control circuitry changes with advancing age and what mechanisms allow individuals to compensate for these age-related changes.