Jeremy Caplan's teaching for 2019/2020:

Fall 2019: PSYCO 403/505: Memory Enhancement

(open to graduate and undergraduate students from all departments)

One of the most obvious goals of the study of human memory is to enhance it, both in healthy people and in people with memory deficits. There are both a large number of ideas about how one might enhance memory, and very little compelling examples of success. In this seminar-format course we will read and discuss and argue about a diverse range of approaches, from behavioural strategies to brain activity modulation and even pharmacology. The goal is to understand the state of the art across all techniques, to form our own critical opinions about this work, and figure out together what needs to be done next. We will also need to tackle the philosophical question: what would enhanced memory even look like? Why might this even be interesting or useful? We will thus read about research that ranges from cognitive psychology to cognitive and cellular neuroscience, with primary focus on human episodic memory (memory for arbitrary new information, usually randomly constructed word lists).

Pre-requisites: Some basic cognitive neuroscience (EEG and fMRI, such as PSYCO 375) knowledge and some knowledge of experimental psychology of memory (such as PSYCO 350). Simply having taken psychology courses previously is not a firm requirement. Note that for qualified students from other departments, Psychology course pre-requisites might be waived (consult the Instructor). The following is a self-quiz you can try to assess your preparedness or identify areas to read up on:

  • What do EEG and fMRI measure? How does that relate to neuronal activity?
  • What are the spatial and temporal resolution of EEG and fMRI?
  • What is the difference between MRI and fMRI?
  • What is an ERP, and how does that relate to EEG?
  • What is an oscillation, and how is that different from ERPs?
  • What is the multiple-comparisons problem?
  • What is a pre-stimulus baseline?
  • What is the critique of "functional mapping"?
  • Sketch your favourite EEG or fMRI result, and explain what we learn from it
  • Sketch and explain your favourite result experimental result in memory ressearch
  • What is episodic memory, and how is it different from semantic memory?
  • Name five factors that influence memory success
  • What is a serial-position curve?
  • How do these tasks differ from each other: recognition, free recall, serial recall, cued recall

For other courses of interest:

Check out the Alberta Cognitive Neuroscience group