Memory Organization and Development

Mentor: Dr. Meg Schlichting

Dr. Meg Schlichting

Project Description

Past work suggests that the memories of children, adolescents, and adults differ in many ways. There may be important differences in both how memories are stored as well as how they are later accessed that give rise to the myriad behavioural changes we see over development. For example, it has been proposed that children attend to and store memories according to salient perceptual features (e.g., colour, sound), whereas adults may be more likely to organize according to meaning. However, we do not yet understand how such biases influence our ability to learn new things or later use our memories flexibly.

We will develop a behavioural task that allows us to assess memory organization in adults. Participants will complete the memory experiment online, from home. We will first ask them to memorize pairs of stimuli, and later test their memory over what they studied. We will analyze both their accuracy and response times to test the hypothesis that adults connect memories according to their shared semantic (rather than perceptual) features. This initial work in adults will later be extended to assess memory organization in children and adolescents, which will have implications for supporting reasoning in the classroom.

You will drive all stages of this project, and in so doing learn to create an experiment (PsychoPy); collect online data (; and perform data analysis, visualization (R), and interpretation. No previous programming experience required! These skills will be valuable for any student interested in pursuing graduate training in experimental psychology, broadly defined.

Mentorship Statement

I believe that positive and early mentorship experiences can fundamentally change a person’s relationship with science. My mentorship philosophy rests on the idea that advising is not one-size-fits-all, but rather should be tailored and ever-evolving to fit the needs of each student. Our SROP student will receive the hands-on support they need to accomplish the research goals they set in motion through this program. They will be mentored both through weekly project-oriented individual meetings and whole-group lab meetings, which serve as opportunities to discuss both our own ongoing work and read the literature more broadly. I want to be involved in the SROP because I believe it is crucial to provide opportunities for underrepresented minorities at all levels of academia. Offering new research opportunities—including skills-based training and access to resources—to emerging scientists like you is an important step towards increasing diversity among our graduate, postdoctoral, and faculty colleagues.

Project ID 960