About Us

    The Vanderbilt Computational Memory Lab (VCML) was established in August, 2009 with the arrival of Lab Director Sean Polyn and his family to Nashville, Tennessee. We are located in the Department of Psychology, in Wilson Hall, on the campus of Vanderbilt University.

    Current full-time lab members: Sean Polyn, the aforementioned lab director; Neal Morton, James Kragel, and Joshua McCluey graduate students; and Cage Spoden, research analyst. Our laboratory has great interest in attracting and training members of the next generation of memory researchers; if you are interested in being involved with our research, contact Dr. Polyn.

    Our mission is to advance our knowledge of the structure and function of the human memory system. We use a combination of approaches to achieve this goal. Behavioral testing of memory function is carried out in two sound-attenuated testing rooms, and focuses on the cognitive processes engaged during memory search. We also are interested in the neural signals generated as people search through their memories; a two-pronged approach is used to characterize these neural signals. In our shielded testing room, we record scalp electroencephalographic (EEG) activity, with particular attention towards the patterns of oscillatory neural activity that accompany successful retrieval of information from memory. In work carried out at the nearby Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science (VUIIS) we record brain activity using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) during memory tasks. Finally, we are developing the Context Maintenance and Retrieval (CMR) model of human memory, which is designed to explain the behavioral dynamics observed while people search through their memories as they perform a task called free recall. Current work on CMR is focused on bridging the behavioral and neural phenomena observed during free recall performance.


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