Welcome to the Brandeis University Memory and Cognition Laboratory homepage. Our research centers on speech comprehension and memory for speech, with a particular focus on changes associated with healthy aging. If you're a healthy adult between the ages of 18 and 30 or over the age of 65, we'd love to have you come in and participate in one of our studies!
Our lab is located in the Volen National Center for Complex Systems, a center created specifically to foster collaboration among scientists who are studying brain functioning. The disciplines within the building are cognitive psychology, biology, physics, computer science, linguistics, and neuroscience. We also are part of the Department of Psychology.
Below are some of the topics currently being examined in the lab.
By using a combination of behavioral tasks with neuroimaging techniques, such as fMRI and EEG, we are able to investigate the complex connection between neural processing and behavior.
One general topic of interest is how manipulating the acoustic signal impacts speech processing and comprehension. This might include speeding up the speech, or presenting distracting material in the background (either white noise or additional people talking). Other topics include the the effects of lexical ambiguity, syntactic complexity, and task demands on recall performance.
As we get older, hearing acuity tends to decline. Thus, for researchers interested in age-related changes in speech comprehension—as we are—it is extremely important to be able to disentangle which changes are due to an "aging brain", and which are just due to "aging ears." To address this issue, we conduct research on both young and older adults with a wide range of hearing ability. (This includes young adults with poorer hearing, and older adults with exceptionally good hearing—both groups of individuals are difficult to find.) Findings suggest that individuals with hearing loss expend more effort to successfully understand the speech signal, and that this effort makes other aspects of comprehension more difficult.