TMI: Disengagement and Memory
University of Toronto, Canada
Can you really have too much information? And, what happens when you do? Our research program focuses on these questions and may help explain patterns of age-related cognitive deficits as well as spared functioning. Older adults show a shift from intentionally-biased processing of information to a more incidental bias which results in excessive encoding and subsequently, in delays in disengaging from non-relevant information. As a consequence, too much information can be active at any one point in time, resulting in poor explicit recall - and sometimes, in superior implicit memory. This pattern may be especially pronounced in older adults but it is not unique to them: A limited literature suggests that positive moods and circadian disruptions can produce similar outcomes.
Lynn Hasher is a Senior Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute of Baycrest Health Sciences and Professor Emerita in the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto. She has held faculty positions at Carleton, Temple and Duke Universities and was also a Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She joined the faculty at University of Toronto and the staff of the Rotman Research Institute in 1999. She is a Fellow of the APS, the Psychonomic Society, and the Society of Experimental Psychologists as well as a member of the Memory Disorders Research Society. At the University of Toronto, she is a Fellow of Massey College. She has won several awards including a James McKeen Cattell Fellowship as well as a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. Her work in the US was originally supported by the National Institute on Aging and more recently, it has been supported by two Canadian funding sources, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Her research has always had a developmental approach, initially with children and for most of her career, with older adults. As well, she has always been interested in implicit cognition, studying it across traditional domains including attention, memory and language comprehension. As not incidental side-lines to this work she has also done research on the role of circadian rhythms on cognition, as well as on the cognitive consequences of differences in mood and cultural backgrounds. Her theoretical work proposes that attention regulation is foundational to mental life. Over the years, she has worked with an amazing group of students at Temple and at Duke University and at the University of Toronto. She is grateful to all of them, to her colleagues (especially to Rose Zacks and David Goldstein) and to her undergraduate and graduate mentors, as well.
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