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Wednesday Talk: March 6, 2024, 2-4 pm – in-person and on Zoom

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March 6 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Speaker: Morgan Barense, Neuropsyschology, U of T

Title: “A smartphone Intervention to Enhance Real-World Event Memory”

 Abstract: The act of remembering an everyday experience influences how we interpret the world, how we think about the future, and how we perceive ourselves. It also enhances long-term retention of the recalled content, increasing the likelihood that it will be recalled again. Unfortunately, the ability to recollect event-specific details tends to decline with age, resulting in an impoverished ability to mentally re-experience the past. This shift has been linked to a corresponding decline in the distinctiveness of hippocampal memory representations. Despite these well-established changes, there are few effective cognitive behavioral interventions that target real-world episodic memory. We addressed this gap by developing a smartphone-based application called HippoCamera that allows participants to record labelled videos of everyday events and subsequently replay standardized, high-fidelity autobiographical memory cues. In two experiments with older adults, we found that using HippoCamera to repeatedly reactivate memories for real-world events improved episodic recollection and it evoked more positive autobiographical sentiment at the time of retrieval. Moreover, more detailed recollection was associated with more differentiated memory signals in the hippocampus. In a third experiment, we used HippoCamera to promote engagement in unique events for individuals experiencing social isolation during COVID lockdowns. We found that unique events were not only recalled in richer episodic detail, but that increased uniqueness was associated with greater positive affect, decreased boredom, and the perception of time passing faster for the entire day. These findings the highlight intimate connection between memory for the events of our lives and our well-being overall.

Bio: Morgan received her B.A. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, UK. She remained in Cambridge for her postdoctoral work to undertake a Peterhouse Research Fellowship. She joined the faculty at the University of Toronto in 2009, was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014, and then to Full Professor in 2019. She currently directs the Toronto Neuroimaging Facility. Trained in animal neuroscience, human neuropsychology, fMRI, and cognitive psychology, she enjoys bringing these approaches together to study the neural underpinnings of memory. She has been honoured with a number of awards, including a Young Investigator Award from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, an Early Investigator Award and Lifetime Fellowship from the Society of Experimental Psychologists, an Early Career Award from the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science, a Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience, a James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award, an Early Researcher Award from the Province of Ontario, and a Connaught Innovation Award. She currently holds the endowed Max and Gianna Glassman Chair in Neuropsychology.

The link to register is  https://forms.office.com/r/cVMUAmik7e

The deadline to register is the Monday before the event at noon.  The Zoom link will be sent to registrants only.