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CabezaLab — Laboratory at Duke University focused on the cognitive neuroscience of memory and aging

Using behavioral and neuroimaging methods, we investigate the cognitive and neural mechanisms of memory and emotion and how they change across the lifespan.

“Holiday shopping can be mentally exhausting for anyone. But a new Duke University study finds that older adults seem to need extra brainpower to make shopping decisions — especially ones that rely on memory.” The work of Nichole Lighthall, a postdoctoral researcher in Roberto Cabeza’s lab, is featured in a Duke Today article.

A fundamental idea in memory research is that items are more likely to be remembered if encoded with a semantic, rather than perceptual, processing strategy. Interestingly, this effect has been shown to reverse for emotionally arousing materials, such that perceptual processing enhances memory for emotional information or events. The current fMRI study investigated the neural […]

Restudying material is a common method for learning new information, but not necessarily an effective one. Research on the testing effect shows that practice involving retrieval from memory can facilitate later memory in contrast to passive restudy. Despite extensive behavioral work, the brain processes that make retrieval an effective learning strategy remain unclear. In the […]

The reliable neuroimaging finding that older adults often show greater activity (over-recruitment) than younger adults is typically attributed to compensation. Yet, the neural mechanisms of over-recruitment in older adults (OAs) are largely unknown. Rodent electrophysiology studies have shown that as number of afferent fibers within a circuit decreases with age, the fibers that remain show higher synaptic field potentials (less […]

   Although it is well established that the perirhinal cortex (PRC) makes an important contribution to recognition memory, the specific nature of this contribution remains uncertain. The finding that PRC activity is reduced for old compared to new items is typically attributed to the recovery of a long-term memory signal. However, because old items are […]

The present investigation tested the novel prediction that encoding-retrieval similarity can be observed and related to memory at the level of individual items. Multivariate representational similarity analysis was applied to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data collected during encoding and retrieval of emotional and neutral scenes. Memory success tracked fluctuations in encoding-retrieval similarity across frontal and posterior cortices. Importantly, memory […]

Although ventral parietal cortex (VPC) activations can be found in a variety of cognitive domains, these activations have been typically attributed to cognitive operations specific to each domain. In this article, we propose a hypothesis that can account for VPC activations across all the cognitive domains reviewed. We first review VPC activations in the domains of perceptual and motor […]

Studies of cognitive and neural aging have recently provided evidence of a shift from an early- to late-onset cognitive control strategy, linked with temporally extended activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). It has been uncertain, however, whether this age-related shift is unique to PFC and executive control tasks, or whether the functional location might vary […]

Dew and Cabeza (2011) review behavioral and neuroimaging evidence showing that, under certain circumstances, there may be an important and influential relationship between conscious and nonconscious forms of memory. Here, we offer a model predicting that the brain regions associated with explicit or implicit memory are not differentiated based on consciousness, but rather vary along […]

  Emotion processing has been shown to vary with age: relative to young adults (YAs), older adults (OAs) exhibit increased frontal activations to emotional materials as well as cognitive biases toward positive versus negative stimuli. This latter effect is hypothesized to depend on OAs’ capacity for controlled elaboration. To test this hypothesis, YAs and OAs […]