William Beischel

Year: Senior

Major(s):  Psychology

Mentor: Morrison, Robert

Department: Psychology

Project Title: Changes in Face-Name Memory during Normal Aging: The Neural Correlates of Memory Monitoring and Successful Encoding

Project Abstract: As our society ages, there is an increasing need for early markers of pathologic aging such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Executive function, the ability to control information in our conscious mind, has previously shown promise in predicting who will progress from early stages of memory dysfunction to Alzheimer's disease. One hypothesis is that executive function may be critical for monitoring one’s own memory processes (i.e., metamemory) and adapting memory-encoding strategies to effectively learn new material in the face of underlying changes to the memory system. Learning new face-name pairs is particularly challenging for older adults and the neural network used to pair faces and names is disrupted early during Alzheimer’s disease. In this study we will test a new method for measuring the behavioral and neural correlates of memory monitoring and adaptive encoding while younger and older participants learn novel face-name pairs while we monitor their brain waves with scalp electroencephalography (EEG). Using these techniques in the future we hope to study how metamemory and adaptive encoding change during memory decline and whether they predict pathology. The proposed research will give me the opportunity to present at both a local and national research conferences and will serve as a valuable research experience as I prepare for applying to neuropsychology graduate programs.