Maureen Ritchey, Ph.D.

Cns Maureen Ritchey Headshot

2022

Cognitive Neuroscience Society

Winner

Maureen Ritchey, Ph.D.

Boston College

"Researcher Explores the Interaction of Emotions and Memories in the Human Brain Network "

Maureen Ritchey, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Boston College. Dr. Ritchey directs the Memory Modulation Lab, which uses the tools of cognitive neuroscience to investigate the neural bases of episodic memory. She combines cognitive neuroscience methods, including behavioral, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and computational approaches, to investigate the relationship between brain networks and memory processes.

Dr. Ritchey’s research offered one of the clearest demonstrations of the role of the hippocampus in the process of recapitulation. Dr. Ritchey’s experiments would change the way we think about human memory, as she combined sophisticated analyses of fMRI data and used graph theory to analyze functional connectivity and multivariate analyses to examine information carried in voxel-patterns. She brought these methods to bear on a new hypothesis: that there are two different memory systems, a posterior medial (PM) system that includes the parahippocampal cortex and retrosplenial cortex, and an anterior temporal (AT) system that includes the perirhinal cortex, that support different aspects of human memory. Her results were consistent with this hypothesis and led her to develop the “PMAT” framework for human memory, which has been a highly influential model.

Dr. Ritchey is now testing how these networks are involved in encoding and reconstructing the details of episodic memories, and how factors that modulate memory—such as emotional arousal—affect the function of these different memory systems. She has more recently begun a new line of work to examine whether individual differences in memory can be understood within the PMAT framework: Can differences in the balance of these networks explain why some people are better at remembering certain event content (faces, or context, or emotion)?

Dr. Ritchey’s research is consistently published in leading outlets, including eLife, Journal of Neuroscience, and Psychological Science. Her research has been funded by the K99/R00 “Pathway to Independence” Award from NIMH, a NARSAD grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, and a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Ritchey has also served in leadership roles in the Memory Disorders Research Society and the Context and Episodic Memory Symposium, and as a consulting editor for the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.