squiqally

My research focuses on understanding how the brain supports human memory. One overarching question that drives my research is why some experiences are fated to be remembered while other experiences are fated to be forgotten. My goals are to investigate in the brain how new memories are formed, how we evaluate our own learning, and how people differ in their learning. One line of my research focuses on how people evaluate the success of the their learning. Predicting how well information was learned, known in psychology as judgments-of-learning (JOL), is an important part of successful learning because it allows us to judge whether we've studied enough or need to review more. People who are more accurate in predicting their learning are better learners and are also better students. Whereas extensive research is being conducted on the neural systems that support learning itself, little is known about the neural underpinnings of JOLs or the subjective evaluations of learning. In the first study of neural mechanisms underlying JOLs, my colleagues and I identified a region in ventramedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) that was engaged when participants made predictions that their learning was successful. Individual differences in VMPFC recruitment was related to differences in JOL accuracy: Individuals who made accurate predictions showed greater VMPFC recruitment than individuals who made less accurate predictions. Understanding JOLs may be useful in helping people become better learners. There is still much that we do not know about JOLs, and this topic will prove to be an exciting area of research. I am motivated to further our understanding of the neural basis of JOLs, different strategies in forming JOLs, various factors that lead to accurate JOL predictions, and how people use their JOLs to guide learning. My second line of research focuses on exploring how individuals differ in their learning. I am interested in delineating individual differences in learning strategy from individual differences in cognitive abilities. The goal is to explore these individual differences both within the population of healthy young adults and across the life-span from development to aging.

squiqally

Kao, Y.-C., Preston, A. R., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (manuscript in preparation). Preparing to remember: Retrieval mode and prefrontal cortex.

Kao, Y.-C., Anderson, T. D., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (manuscript in preparation). Examining different strategies underlying encoding predictions: an fMRI study on the role of prefrontal cortex in judgments-of-learning.

Ofen, N., Kao, Y.-C., Sokol-Hessner, P., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (submitted). Neural Development of Long-Term Memory Encoding.

Nichols, E. A., Kao, Y.-C, Verfaellie, M., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2006). Working memory and long-term memory for faces: Evidence from fMRI and global amnesia for involvement of the medial temporal lobes. Hippocampus, 16(7): 604-616.
[medline abstract]

Kao, Y.-C., Davis, E. S., & Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2005). Neural correlates of actual and predicted memory formation. Nature Neuroscience, 12(8): 1776-1783.
[medline abstract]

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