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Parsing Memory: Identifying functional distinctions using neuroimaging, clinical models and pharmacological probes

Dr. Sarah Garfinkel

Thursday, September 16, 2010, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

University of Michigan, Department of Psychiatry

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Memories are subject to a variety of modifications. For example, memories can be distorted, selectively facilitated, or inhibited. These phenomena provide insights into underlying memory processes, expanding our traditional views of memory structure. In this talk I will describe functional distinctions within the memory system, identified using fMRI with pharmacological and clinical models, and will demonstrate how they contribute to modulations in memory. I will show how memory alterations in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can contribute to the etiology and maintenance of these disorders. Individuals with OCD symptomatology, for example, demonstrate an over-reliance on familiarity-based processing and increased false memories for threat. These memory modulations may contribute to the maintenance of checking behaviour.  We have also produced evidence that memory can be selectively facilitated by the stress hormone cortisol.  Using a fear conditioning paradigm and fMRI, we identified conditions that induce aberrant neural activity which might underlie the dominance of fear memories in PTSD. This ongoing work demonstrates how hormones, stress, and psychopathology can selectively alter memory processes, which not only gives us insight into psychiatric disorders, but also a window into functional distinctions within the memory system



Dr. Sarah Garfinkel