Memory is fickle — one moment you may be able to vividly recall the details of a mundane event but other times you may struggle to recall an acquaintance’s name. Much research has sought to explain this variability in memory by focusing on the nature of each experience, namely what makes something memorable? In this project, we instead investigate how the state of people’s minds (or brains) leading up to an experience also shapes what they learn and how they later remember it. Depending on the student’s interest and available projects, they could investigate how salient events (e.g., reward, errors) or individual differences (e.g., aging, neurological conditions) generate these memory states. The SROP student will ultimately gain experience in identifying, synthesizing, and critiquing relevant published research, building cognitive psychology experiments, collecting data, and will be exposed to statistical software, such as R, to analyze the data. They will also learn about discoveries about the brain can inspire new insights into how the mind works.
My vision for this mentorship experience is to provide opportunities that promote growth, increase depth of knowledge, and inspire new perspectives. To ensure day-to-day support, one of my graduate students will hold weekly one-on-one meetings with the SROP student, daily online check-ins and regular group project meetings. Additionally, I will personally meet with the SROP student to ensure interest alignment, clarify expectations, and provide high-level support. The SROP student will also be encouraged to attend the weekly lab meetings, in which members discuss relevant and current topics. Through this mentorship experience, our mentee will gain a deeper understanding of how memory is enabled by the brain, methods for assessing memory, and insights into academic research culture and practices more generally. I am motivated to be a mentor in the SROP because I believe that increasing the diversity of scientists will drive a more complete understanding of the human mind.