Postdoctoral Research Associate
I obtained a BSc in Human Biosciences from Northumbria University (2010) and an MRes in Neuroscience from Newcastle University (2011) before completing an Alzheimer’s Society funded PhD in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh (2015). I joined Heriot-Watt University in 2015 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate working with Dr Michaela Dewar.
My research focuses on memory consolidation, i.e. the process that acts to strengthen new memories. Recent research demonstrates that the long-term retention of basic verbal memories (e.g. lists of words and short stories) can be significantly enhanced if learning is shortly followed by a brief period of wakeful rest. It is hypothesised that wakeful rest provides a cognitive/behavioural state that is conducive to consolidation by reducing the amount of sensory input and associated encoding which would otherwise interfere. My research to date has expanded on this finding, revealing: (i) wakeful rest enhances the consolidation of complex spatial memories, (ii) wakeful rest promotes the integration of spatial memories into an accurate cognitive map for a recently navigated environment, a process traditionally associated with sleep, and (iii) in addition to sensory input, internally-generated autobiographical thoughts interfere with the consolidation of recently acquired memories. In addition to consolidation, I am interested in the role of sleep in memory, spatial memory and navigation, autobiographical memory, and the effects of normal ageing and disease states in memory.