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Perception meets memory: A new view on memory disorders

How does perceiving an object relate to subsequent memory for that object? A central assumption in most modern theories of memory is that memory and perception are functionally and anatomically segregated. For example, amnesia resulting from medial temporal lobe (MTL) lesions is traditionally considered to be a selective deficit in long-term declarative memory with no effect on perceptual processes. This view is consistent with a popular paradigm in cognitive neuroscience, in which the brain is understood in terms of a modular organization of cognitive function. The work I will present offers a new perspective. Guided by computational modelling complemented with neuropsychology and neuroimaging, I will provide support for the notion that memory and perception are inextricably intertwined, relying on shared neural representations and computational mechanisms. I will then describe how this new framework can improve basic understanding of cognitive impairments observed in Alzheimer’s disease, as well as guide development of new diagnostic procedures for those at risk for dementia.