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Imprompu seminar – Dr. Myra Fernandes and Yadurshana Sivashankar

Monday 11 April / 14:00

Dr. Myra Fernandes and Yadurshana Sivashankar
Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo,
Invited by Frédéric Alexandre, IMN

Venue: Purkinje room, 2nd floor Broca building

Possible to attend on site or remotely: https://u-bordeaux-fr.zoom.us/j/83739603475?pwd=aC9VRUgrazI1RHVQVHBOK2V3bU8wZz09



How active encoding techniques can enhance memory


Researchers have a long-standing interest in documenting the effectiveness of various encoding techniques in influencing memory of to-be-remembered information. In the first part of this talk we will highlight our recent work showing that drawing a picture of what you want to remember is a particularly effective strategy compared with more passive encoding techniques such as re-reading or even repeatedly writing out verbal information. We have shown that drawing can be applied to enhance memory for individual words and pictures, as well as textbook definitions, sentences, and even autobiographical events. Notably, this approach is remarkably effective in boosting memory performance in healthy aging as well as in populations with probable dementia, and even amnesia. We suggest that actively incorporating a visuo-perceptual representation through drawing increases reliance on visual-sensory brain regions during retrieval, which are relatively intact in these populations, accounting for the benefit.

In the second part of our talk we will highlight data showing that memory for visuo-spatial information, such as routes travelled within a virtual reality environment, also benefits significantly from active relative to passive encoding. We have shown that route learning, and subsequent memory for spatial layouts and landmarks, was significantly hampered when humans were passively guided, compared to when they made their own personal decisions about where to explore and how to arrive at a location. We argue that active incorporation of motor and visual representations during encoding can benefit memory, though combining these with active decision-making further enhances performance.


Dr. Myra Fernandes is Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo, Canada.
She holds a B.Sc. in Psychology & Biology from University of Waterloo (1995), as well as a Masters (1996) and PhD (2001) from University of Toronto, Canada, in Cognitive Neuropsychology.  Dr Fernandes is the current President of the Canadian Society for Brain Behaviour and Cognitive Sciences. She was awarded the Women in Cognitive Science Canada Mentorship Award in 2017.

Dr. Fernandes is a past Associate Editor for Memory & Cognition, and Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Science, for which she received an Extraordinary Service Award.
She is on the Editorial Board for Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Science, Psychology and Aging, Brain Sciences, and Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology. She is a recipient of the Canadian Psychological Association’s President’s New Researcher Award, as well as the Ontario Ministry of Research & Innovation’s Research Excellence Award.  She was named Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and of the CSBBCS.


• Departmental https://uwaterloo.ca/psychology/people-profiles/myra-fernandes

• Cognitive Neuroscience lab https://uwaterloo.ca/cognitive-neuroscience-lab/

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Monday 11 April
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