I am an assistant professor in the psychology department at University of Arizona and a core faculty member of the clinical training program. My background is in clinical neuropsychology. I have trained in clinical and research neuropsychological settings at hospitals and universities.
My research is broadly focused on the clinical and cognitive neuroscience of memory. A particular interest of mine is autobiographical memory, which is memory of real world, personal events. Autobiographical memory can be used to facilitate a wide-range of psychological functions, including decision-making, planning for the future, connecting socially with others, and creating a sense of self that is continuous across time and space. It is thought that autobiographical memory is adaptively applied in such diverse contexts, because memories of life events are not stored as immutable mental representations but rather reflect autobiographical contents that can be flexibly retrieved and bound together to reconstruct past experiences and simulate new ones. However, these same features naturally mean that autobiographical memories are vulnerable to forgetting and distortions. Such errors are particularly evident in the context of normal and abnormal brain aging, as well as in individuals with neurologic conditions (e.g., traumatic brain injury) and mental health disorders (e.g., depression). Given the directive, social, and self-related functions of autobiographical memory, and the potential consequences of disruption to this type of memory, it is important to understand how the brain stores and retrieves such memories.
In my laboratory, we investigate the cognitive and neural bases of autobiographical memory, as well as interventions to improve autobiographical memory. This line of work leads us to study several populations, including healthy young adults and individuals with brain lesions to gain insight into the cognitive components of autobiographical memory and how the brain represents such complex content; middle-aged and older adults to investigate normal cognitive aging and preclinical cognitive and neural markers of abnormal aging; individuals with traumatic brain injury to understand the cognitive and functional consequences of this common neurologic condition and to study memory interventions; and individuals with sub-clinical and clinical mood disorders to gain insight into the self, social, and directive functions of autobiographical memory. Currently, we utilize a combination of neuropsychological, structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and genetic methods to conduct this research.