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Memory & Space
Professor Eleanor Maguire FMedSci
A distributed set of brain regions supports human episodic (autobiographical) memory, defined as the memory for personal everyday events. However, surprisingly little is understood about the contributions individual brain areas make to the overall recollective experience. We, and others, have noted that this brain network overlaps considerably with that supporting navigation in large-scale space and other diverse cognitive functions such as imagination and thinking about the future. In our research we seek to place episodic memory in the context of wider cognition so as to understand how common brain areas, and possibly common processes, support such disparate functions. We hope in this way to gain novel and fundamental insights into the mechanisms that are involved.
We use standard whole brain and high resolution structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging in conjunction with behavioural testing and neuropsychological examination of patients in order to pursue our aims. We mainly employ ecologically valid or 'real life' experimental paradigms to examine brain-behaviour relationships; examples include using virtual reality to examine navigation, studying London taxi drivers, investigating autobiographical memories of people’s personal past experiences, and their ability to imagine fictitious and future scenes and events.
Our primary interest is in the hippocampus and its contributions, whilst also exploring the roles of the parahippocampal cortex, the retrosplenial cortex and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex.
Rosalind Franklin Essay Competition 2009 (opens in a new window)