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.

Contact: Marc Coutanche, Ph.D., 412-624-7458,

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.

Description: Our lab is interested in understanding the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Our research examines factors that impact the encoding, consolidation and retrieval of different types of information, including how new information is presented, and the role of sleep in consolidation. We also seek to understand the neural systems underlying the integration of new memories into people’s knowledge systems. We conduct behavioral experiments (testing participants in computer-based tasks) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) studies.

Duties of Students: Primary responsibilities will include running participants in computer-based behavioral experiments. In addition, students will learn about the theoretical basis of the lab’s studies through discussions with the P.I. and lab meetings. Some students may be invited to help set-up behavioral paradigms after gaining experience with running 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:


  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • 12 credits of Psychology (including current term)
  • STAT 0200/1000/1100 Statistics
  • PSY 0036 Research Methods Lecture
  • PSY 0037 Research Methods Lab
  • Have at least a 3.5 GPA in Psychology
  • Must be able to commit a minimum of 8 hours each week
  • Be able to give a minimum 2-term commitment

Terms offered: Fall, Spring, and Summer

Number of Students:  2-4