I am interested in understanding the neurobiology of learning and memory, in particular, how different factors affect episodic, semantic and spatial memory. These different factors include emotion, novelty, prior knowledge, etc. I am also investigating different strategies to alleviate mild cognitive impairment and dementia symptoms.
Although our understanding has greatly improved in recent years, there are still many important things that we do not know, such as why we remember some events yet forget others, and how the brain encodes memories and subsequently transfers them to long term memories.
My current lines of research are:
We learn new things better when we can relate them to prior knowledge (a schema). The concept of schemas was introduced in human psychology around 100 years ago. However, the neurobiology of schema is not well known. Previously, my colleagues and I found that new information can be assimilated into neocortical schemas very rapidly via systems consolidation. I am now investigating possible mechanisms underlying schema formation and how information is assimilated into a schema. This may also have implications for educational aspects of learning and memory.
Are there any effective behavioural methods to delay memory decline, especially in early stages of dementia? Recent research using animal models has indicated possible ways to improve memory. However, translational studies with humans and animals remain challenging. I am interested in looking into different therapeutic strategies to alleviate cognitive impairment and delay memory decline in dementia.