My primary research interest is the functional organization of memory. I use a number of different techniques to understand which brain networks contribute to different types of memory processes and how these can be disturbed and/or reorganized by focal brain damage.
One research theme in my lab involves studies on the patterns of memory impairments in patients with damage or dysfunction in the medial temporal lobe of the brain. This primarily involves patients with temporal lobe epilepsy, but we also have projects examining patients with mild cognitive impairment and individuals who have received gamma radiation to that area of the brain. We are examining the impact of damage to mesial temporal structures on different forms or aspects of memory (e.g., autobiographical, episodic, semantic, relational memory).
We also use fMRI to examine patterns of neural activation in memory and language in health and disease, and neuroplasticity or functional re-organization associated with chronic neurologic conditions and surgical interventions. More recently, we have begun using electrophysiological techniques to understand memory organization. Specific studies employ electrical recording of neuronal signals in the medial temporal lobe in epilepsy patients, electrical stimulation in those circuits in patients with deep brain stimulation or intracranial electrodes, and surface EEG to map neocortical networks involved in different aspects of memory processing.
In addition to addressing key questions in cognitive neuroscience, our aim is to provide clinically useful information (e.g., better tools for the evaluation of deficits and functional change) that can be applied in epilepsy, neurodegenerative disorders and other conditions with focal brain damage in the temporal lobes. Another long-term goal of the research is to identify individual difference factors contributing to vulnerability or resilience (i.e., cerebral reserve) to disease/disorder; this will enable better therapeutic targeting and prognosis.