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  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: May 2018

11 - The Future of Memory Research


Learning Objectives

  • • To understand the similarities between phrenology and fMRI.
  • • To list two advantages of ERPs over fMRI.
  • • To describe how brain region interaction studies are conducted.
  • • To characterize how the field of cognitive neuroscience will change in the future.
  • • To specify whether research on temporal processing in the brain will increase in the future.
  • Research on human memory is completely dependent on the methods that are employed in the field of cognitive neuroscience, and thus the future of memory research will follow the future of cognitive neuroscience. This final chapter focuses on the cognitive neuroscience techniques that have been employed in the past and the techniques that will be employed in the future. Section 11.1 describes the similarities between fMRI, which identifies brain regions associated with a cognitive process, and phrenology, a pseudoscience from two centuries ago in which each protrusion of the skull was associated with a particular behavioral characteristic. In section 11.2, fMRI is directly compared to ERPs. As fMRI has poor temporal resolution, only ERPs can measure the temporal dynamics of the functioning brain. A cost–benefit analysis favors ERPs, and government agencies are starting to increase funding for research that employs ERPs. Section 11.3 discusses research investigating brain region interactions, which will also receive increased government funding. Brain region interaction research has only recently started to be conducted and involves brain activity frequency analysis or modulating one brain region and measuring how that changes activity in another brain region. Section 11.4 provides an overview of the field of cognitive neuroscience in the future. A distinction is made between human brain mapping, which refers to identifying the brain regions associated with a cognitive process using fMRI, and research that investigates brain region interactions using EEG frequency analysis and combined techniques. It is predicted that human brain mapping research will be assimilated by the field of cognitive psychology and that the field of cognitive neuroscience will consist of human brain region interaction research and will be an area within the field of behavioral neuroscience. The final section, 11.5, shines a spotlight on the dimension of time. To date, temporal processing in the brain has received less attention than spatial localization. However, time is the future of the cognitive neuroscience of memory.

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