Job Talk: Daniela Palombo | Cognitive Science Area

Thursday November 24, 2016
2:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Title: Why do we remember?
Memory is typically associated with remembering our past experiences. Yet humans spend only a minority of time reminiscing; the majority of our thoughts involve imagining and fantasizing about experiences we have never had. These thoughts tend to be episodic in nature—those that concern imagining a specific event unfolding in time and space. It has been argued that a central purpose of episodic memory is to form the building blocks that allow us to forecast future contingencies. This idea has two implications: First, experiences that are directly relevant to our survival and fitness are more likely to be remembered. Second, prior experiences should directly influence future-oriented adaptive behaviors, such as planning or decision making. With these ideas in mind, my talk focuses on the manner in which we use episodic memory adaptively. I will additionally consider circumstances in which episodic memory can paradoxically be maladaptive for humans. Behavioral and neuroimaging data will be discussed.