Lab-warming party

We recently celebrated the end of our first semester by hosting a lab-warming party– hot cocoa, cider, and all. Many thanks to the rest of the BC Psychology department for such a warm welcome.

New paper on post-encoding stress

Stressful experiences can have a powerful influence on what we learn and remember. Prior work has shown that stress after learning can influence later memory, but until now, we knew very little about how the retroactive effects of stress interact with processes that were active during learning. In this study, we showed that the effects of post-encoding stress on memory depended on the level of hippocampal and amygdala activity during encoding. This means that, when stress followed encoding, it preferentially protected memories for information that had elicited a lot of activity in these important memory structures. In this way, stress was acting as a mnemonic filter, selectively keeping the memories that were “tagged” at encoding, compared to those that were not.

For more information, check out the paper linked below, as well as its companion behavioral paper.


Ritchey, M., McCullough, A.M., Ranganath, C., & Yonelinas, A.P. (2017). Stress as a mnemonic filter: Interactions between medial temporal lobe encoding processes and post-encoding stress. Hippocampus, 27 (1), 77-88.    

Fall apple picking

Lab trip to Smolak Farms, followed by collaborative baking

Summer status update

The lab officially opened its doors on July 1st. I’m happy to report that lab renovations are done, IRBs are submitted, and R00 funding is pending final approval. Hiring felt a bit like assembling the dream team, and I’m looking forward to my lab members’ arrivals later this summer.

We are currently focused on starting strong, but we’re also looking to the future. If you’d like to join us, or know someone who would, we will be recruiting a graduate student and postdoc for start dates next summer/ fall 2017.

Upcoming Talks

MTL parcellation paper in press

Now available online! This paper extends some of our prior work (Ritchey et al., 2014, JoCN) by using resting-state functional connectivity to parcellate the medial temporal lobes along the longitudinal axis. We found that a data-driven parcellation scheme split the parahippocampal gyrus into 3 clusters: one corresponding to the parahippocampal cortex, and two corresponding to anterior and posterior portions of the perirhinal cortex. These clusters had distinct patterns of connectivity with the rest of the brain, and importantly, these areas played different roles in associative memory encoding.

So what does this mean? First, the parahippocampal gyrus is not a homogeneous structure, but rather it comprises at least 3 areas with different connections. Second, the different connections seem to be related to differences in memory-related function– differences that we did not observe until we applied our parcellation algorithm. This speaks to the utility of connectivity measures for mapping out the functional organization of medial temporal lobe cortex.

Also - huge congrats to first author Shao-Fang (Pam) Wang! She completed this work as a research assistant at UC Davis, and this is her first first-authored publication.


Wang, S.-F., Ritchey, M., Libby, L.A., & Ranganath, C. (2016). Functional connectivity based parcellation of the human medial temporal lobe. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. Available online 19 January 2016.    

Welcome to our new website

Welcome to the official website of the Memory Modulation Lab! Our lab opens its physical doors at Boston College in July, but today marks the opening of our own little chunk of virtual space.

Building this website has been a hobby of mine for the past few months, and I hope you like the results. The website is powered by Jekyll and hosted by GitHub (more info here), so it should be super easy to maintain and update. Can’t find something you’re looking for? Let me know.

Planning for the big move

I traveled to Boston College this past week to meet with the lab renovation team. Our new space is going to have quiet office space for grad students and postdocs, two testing rooms, an area for group meetings, and- of course- an accent wall (color TBD, but you can take a guess).

The picture shows the view from the psychology department.