Functional mechanisms of working memory 

A flutter of information constantly enters and exits our consciousness as we go about daily life. Working memory is how we selectively focus on and maintain what is relevant to current goals, even when that information is no longer available. Despite its importance, working memory is severely capacity limited. I study the cognitive and neural limits on working memory capacity using the tools of cognitive neuroscience (fMRI, TMS).  

Questions of interest:

  • Are working memory capacity limits reflective of processing or representational limits in the brain? 
  • What happens when certain working memory representations are prioritized over others? Do attentional shifts change how and where the brain encodes this information? 
  • What neural mechanisms facilitate the maintenance of information in working memory? Do prioritized and unprioritized items share a common coding scheme? 

Structural-functional relationships in human prefrontal cortex 

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is important for working memory and a host of human cognitive abilities. What enables this swath of cortex the diversity and complexity underlying human cognitive abilities? I use techniques of functional neuroanatomy (high-resolution anatomical MRI, resting-state netowrk connectivity analyses) to study structural and functional relationships in the PFC.