Next Science Café: Neurologist Explores How Memory Works

February 14, 2018

Human memory isn’t perfect, says Joel Voss, medical social sciences and neurology.

“There are most definitely times when a person is wrong about a specific memory — that is, the memory is wrong but they believe it to be true,” he says. “Sorting out whether any specific memory is true or false is tricky business.”

In fact, being in the business of memory is complicated, says Voss. At this month’s Science Café, he will offer a sense of what researchers know and don’t know about how memory works and why it can become dysfunctional.

Voss earned his PhD in neuroscience from Northwestern in 2007 and joined the Feinberg School of Medicine in 2012. His laboratory uses cognitive and clinical neuroscience approaches to study memory’s organization in the human brain and how neurologic and neuropsychiatric conditions can disrupt memory. He and his colleagues also develop novel methods for modifying memory abilities using nonsurgical brain stimulation.

“There is no doubt that memory can be altered using various methods,” says Voss. “However, it is still absolutely unknown whether any alterations, including those caused by drugs or surgery, could actually be useful.”

Voss will discuss his latest research and discuss the challenges faced when trying to develop new technologies to improve memory. The event is open to the public and takes place February 21 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Firehouse Grill, 750 Chicago Ave. in Evanston.