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Scientists at the Rotman Research Institute (RRI) are investigating fundamental questions about memory, aging and the neuroscience of cognition.

The RRI is internationally known for basic cognitive neuroscience research on human memory and, in particular, the role of the medial temporal lobe and frontal lobe in encoding and retrieval of semantic, episodic, and autobiographical memories.

Scientists at the Rotman Research Institute are also converging technologies in unique ways to understand how the brain processes speech and understanding and how our perception of sound changes as we age. This understanding could help us develop modified hearing aids – and advice for older people to help them overcome the changes in auditory processing which occur with aging.

Our researchers’ work has shaped the fundamental understanding of human cognitive function, and will continue to impact approaches to the enhancement, preservation and remediation of cognitive change over the lifespan.

Pioneers in this field  

  • Dr. Endel Tulving: the distinction between episodic and semantic memory systems
  • Dr. Fergus Craik: Dr. Craik’s psychological theory, levels of processing, has shed new light on our understanding of memory. This theory presented the idea that the depth of mental analysis impacts a person’s ability to recall information. 
  • Dr. Morris Moscovitch: Dr. Moscovitch’s research has led to a better understanding of the different types of memories and the consequences of damage to specific brain regions. With Dr. Gordon Winocur, he developed Trace Transformation Theory, a theoretical model that aims to explain how different types of memory change overtime.
  • Dr. Donald Stuss: Dr. Stuss’ pivotal role in understanding the frontal lobe (an area of the brain which plays a crucial role in our day-to-day functioning) has led to the development of treatment and rehabilitation programs for patients with traumatic brain injury.
  • Dr. Gordon Winocur: Dr. Winocur’s research has demonstrated how cognitive decline and dementia is caused by brain deterioration due to age, disease, or trauma combined with lifestyle factors.