Building the bridge between perception and memory (completed)
Despite the commonplace intuition that the way we perceive and remember the world are closely interwoven cognitive processes, scientific research on perception and memory have traditionally followed parallel paths; there are theories of perception and there are theories of memory, but no theories of perception and memory. The aim of the proposed project is to close this gap in our understanding of perception and memory.
With the visual modality as a model system and focusing on the the question of overlap and uniqueness of perception and memory processes, the main research questions are: When, and possibly where, are visual perceptual representations transformed to memory representations, and to what degree does retrieval of information from visual memory involve regeneration of on-line visual processes?
A cross-discipline approach
The research strategy combines the experimental techniques of cognitive psychology with functional brain imaging (fMRI). The guiding hypothesis is that retrieval from memory involves reinstatement of processes active in the original perception of the event, including recruitment of activity in early visual brain areas and the re-enactment of sensorimotor programs. To bring memory research in line with perception research, memory is assessed in terms of the quality of storage rather than the conventional quantity estimates, and experimental techniques are adopted from vision research, such as delayed discrimination and eye movement recording, with several novel methodological modifications. The project holds the promise of significantly changing our ideas about visual memory and, perhaps, human memory in general.