Memory Research

International Society Honors Memory Research Pioneer

Charan Ranganath, a professor of psychology and director of the UC Davis Memory and Plasticity Program, has been selected for a Psychonomic Society 2022 Mid-Career Award for his research on the science of human memory. Ranganath is one of three scholars worldwide chosen to receive the award from the international society.

That Song Is Stuck in Your Head, but It’s Helping You to Remember

If you have watched TV since the ’90s, the sitcom theme song, “I’ll Be There For You,” has likely been stuck in your head at one point or another. New research from UC Davis suggests these experiences are more than a passing nuisance — they play an important role in helping memories form, not only for the song, but also related life events like hanging out with friends — or watching other people hang with their friends on the ’90s television show, "Friends."

Making Decisions Based on How We Feel About Memories, Not Accuracy

When we recall a memory, we retrieve specific details about it: where, when, with whom. But we often also experience a vivid feeling of remembering the event, sometimes almost reliving it. Memory researchers call these processes objective and subjective memory, respectively. A new study from the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis shows that objective and subjective memory can function independently, involve different parts of the brain, and that people base their decisions on subjective memory — how they feel about a memory — more than on its accuracy.

What Makes Trauma Memories Different?

The sexual assault and child pornography conviction of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. The child sex abuse scandal of Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. Hundreds of priests accused of sexual misconduct that took place over many years. These and other shocking cases — in addition to shattering public confidence in once-trusted officials and the institutions that employed them — raised the question in people’s minds: How well can anyone remember events that happened years, and even decades, earlier?

Brain Prioritizes High-Reward Memories

Why do we remember some events, places and things, but not others? Our brains prioritize rewarding memories over others, and reinforce them by replaying them when we are at rest, according to UC Davis research published in the journal Neuron.