Skip to main content


Human memory studies using fMRI experiments

Education Achievements

Human memory studies using fMRI experiments

Psychology doctoral candidate Chris Paynter studies human memory with Professor Lynne Reder at Carnegie Mellon University. His IGERT training enables him to do fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) experiments, a powerful tool that complements behavioral and ERP (event-related potential, i.e., brain wave) studies. Paynter's research focuses on recognition memory: the ability to discriminate familiar from novel stimuli. By introducing a "reset" signal into a visual stimulus recognition task, such that familiar stimuli must be reported as "new" if not been seen since the last reset, Paynter was able to distinguish new/repeat from new/familiar conditions in an ERP study that looked at the FN400 wave, demonstrating that familiarity processing can be influenced by task requirements. Paynter's new, fMRI version of the experiment looked at activation in perirhinal cortex, a region known to be involved in familiarity processing, and finds the same new/ familiar/ repeat discrimination.