The Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning, Memory and the Role of Sleep

"I’m enjoying the new concepts being introduced to me by my supervisor, like fast mapping and the idea of sleep having an impact on your learning process. What I enjoy most about this project is developing my skill set in preparation for my future in whatever career path I decide to follow." 

Supervising Faculty:  
Marc Coutanche, Ph.D.

Marc Coutanche, Ph.D.

William Rybaltowski
LRDC 647, 412-624-1538

Area of Research:  Cognitive neuroscience, studies of learning new concepts and words, the role of sleep in consolidating new information, the effect of learning and memory on perception.

These will be among the first studies of a new cognitive neuroscience lab here at Pitt. This is an opportunity to be involved in a program of research from the ground up. Planned studies will examine how different ways of presenting information can affect learning and future memory, as well as the role of sleep in forming new memories. The first set of experiments will involve testing participants in computer-based experiments in the P.I.’s lab on the 6th floor of the LRDC. For studies examining the importance of sleep, participants will be tested between 8am and 10am and/or 8pm and 10pm, although other studies should be available if these times are not possible for a student. Subsequently, the lab will be collecting fMRI data. Some interested students may be asked to assist with running these participants.

Duties of Students:
Primary responsibilities will include running participants in computer-based behavioral experiments. In addition, students will learn about the theoretical bases of the lab’s studies through discussions with the P.I. and lab meetings. Some students may be invited to run fMRI participants and/or set-up behavioral paradigms after gaining experience with running behavioral participants. Students who are proficient with coding may also have the opportunity to assist with fMRI analyses in the future.

Additional Information:  
For more information about Dr. Coutanche's Directed Research opportunity, check out the following link:

To qualify, students should have at least a 3.5 GPA in Psychology and be able to work 8 hours each week.

Terms offered: Fall, Spring, and Summer

Number of Students:  2-4