Accepting applications for fall 2020


I will be accepting applications from prospective PhD students in the upcoming cycle. You can find general information about applying to the BC psychology program here. The deadline for applying is December 15, and information about fee waivers can be found here.

I encourage you to reach out via email before applying. Here is some good advice about why and how to email prospective advisors. Follow their advice. I especially want to hear about your research interests and why you think my lab might be a good fit for you based on your interests or other qualifications. Looking forward to hearing from you!




Congrats to our seniors!


Congrats to all of the seniors graduating from the MemoLab: Lunbei Hu, Emily Iannazzi, Maria Khoudary, Samantha Murphy, Julia Napoli, Paula Ruiz, and Rahul Walia. We are thankful for your dedication and insights - we really couldn’t do this work without you.

A special shout-out to honors thesis students Maria Khoudary and Emily Iannazzi, who completed their thesis projects in the lab. Maria will be moving on to a position as lab manager in the De Brigard lab at Duke, and Emily will be moving on to a position as a post-bacc research assistant in the Buckner lab at Harvard.




New lab papers (!!!)


Very excited to share the first MemoLab papers, which arrived as a pair on consecutive days in March. Both projects were led by postdoc Rose Cooper.


Cooper, R.A., Kensinger, E.A., & Ritchey, M. (2019). Memories fade: The relationship between memory vividness and remembered visual salience. Psychological Science.

This paper reports a set of behavioral experiments investigating the reconstruction of perceptual features in memory. Spoiler alert: memories fade, literally.
- Links: paper, data, lay summary


Cooper, R.A. & Ritchey, M. (2019). Cortico-hippocampal network connections support the multidimensional quality of episodic memory. eLife , 8:e45591.

This paper reports an fMRI study examining the brain networks supporting episodic retrieval. We found that AT-PM network integration increases during episodic retrieval and scales with an objective, continuous measure of memory quality.
- Links: paper, code




Symposium at CNS 2019


The MemoLab will be at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Meeting in San Francisco, March 23-26.

Maureen will be chairing a symposium on Sunday afternoon: Deconstructing the contents of episodic memory retrieval: Pattern reactivation as a marker of memory quality and fidelity

Her talk will focus on recent lab work led by postdoc Rose Cooper: Network interactions supporting the precision of item and context information in episodic memory - preprint

Rosie Samide will also be presenting a poster on Sunday morning: From hurricanes to homecomings: A database of news broadcast videos for investigating the dynamics of emotional memory




NARSAD grant awarded


We were recently awarded a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation for our project, Neural mechanisms supporting regulation of emotional memories. The grant will fund an fMRI study testing the role of the hippocampus in supporting reappraisal of negative memories. Third-year graduate student Rosie Samide will be taking the lead on the project. Go team!

Link to BC news article about the award




SFN 2018


Maureen and Rose will be in San Diego Nov 3-7 for the Society for Neuroscience meeting.

Rose will be presenting her poster on Sunday afternoon, HHH14: Brain networks supporting the composition and precision of episodic memory.

Link to abstract

Hope to see you there!




Welcome Helen!


We are pleased to welcome Helen Schmidt as our new lab manager. Helen recently completed her Masters at University College London, where she used MEG to study neural processing related to reward and punishment.

Unfortunately, this also means that we must say farewell to our inaugural lab manager, Max Bluestone. Max will be moving on to a Masters program in Health Data Science at Dartmouth. We could not have asked for a better first lab manager, and we wish Max the best!

To celebrate fond farewells and new beginnings, we did our first escape room as a lab– making it out with a cool 40 seconds to spare.




Lab manager position available


This position has now been filled.

The Memory Modulation Lab at Boston College is hiring a full-time Research Assistant/ Lab Manager for an anticipated start date in summer 2018. Our lab investigates the neural bases of episodic memory and emotion in healthy young adults. We use a combination of behavioral methods, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and electroencephalography (EEG). For more information about the lab, please see: http://www.thememolab.org.

Duties include: recruiting and scheduling participants, maintaining lab IRB documents, preparing stimuli and experimental presentation scripts, collecting and analyzing behavioral and/or imaging data, and managing a team of undergraduate research assistants.

The successful applicant will have strong interpersonal and organizational skills, interest in cognitive neuroscience research, and experience or interest in learning one or more programming languages (e.g., Matlab, R, Python). Prior research experience is required, as is a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, neuroscience, computer science, mathematics/ statistics, or a related field. A two-year commitment is required.

To apply, please send a cover letter and CV detailing your research experience and qualifications to Dr. Maureen Ritchey, maureen.ritchey@bc.edu. Boston College conducts background checks as part of the hiring process. Boston College is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of any legally protected category including disability and protected veteran status. To learn more about how BC supports diversity and inclusion throughout the university please visit the Office of Institutional Diversity at http://www.bc.edu/offices/diversity.




Coming soon to SFN


The MemoLab will be in DC Nov 11-15 for the Society for Neuroscience meeting.

POSTERS:

  • Monday afternoon, poster VV23 - Effects of contextual reinstatement on retrieval of item-emotion associations (Rosie) - POSTER
  • Wednesday afternoon, poster UU18 - The neural dynamics of retrieving context-dependent emotional associations (Max) - POSTER
  • Wednesday afternoon, poster UU11 - Retrieval-related memory enhancement and reactivation in the posterior medial/core recollection network (MR as co-author)

Link to abstracts

Hope to see you there!




Lab retreat 2017


There’s something about the fall– the crisp air, the anticipation of a new year– that makes me feel like I can do anything. This year, we tried to channel that energy into our first lab retreat. Together we hiked a mountain, toasted marshmallows, and contemplated the future of the MemoLab and, more generally, of cognitive neuroscience.

Figure 1. At the top of Mount Abraham.

Figure 2. We stayed in a lovely cabin in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Figure 3. Each lab member presented on a topic of their choice: physics of Frisbee (Max), a grant proposal (Rose), philosophy of mind (Kyle), music theory (Rosie), and plans for current/future grant proposals (Maureen).

Contributions: M.R. chaired the program committee; R.S. chaired the food committee; R.C. chaired the hiking committee; M.B. chaired the fire committee; and K.K. chaired the guacamole committee.




Welcome Rose!


We are delighted to welcome Dr. Rose Cooper to the Memory Modulation Lab. Rose completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge, where she studied the cognitive neuroscience of episodic memory in autism spectrum disorder. Her postdoc research will build on her expertise in memory precision and brain networks. We’re excited to begin this new collaboration!





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.

Reference:

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.

Reference:

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, 134A, 123-134.      




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.