Amy Overman publishes cognitive neuroscience research in two prestigious journals

Recent peer-reviewed articles were co-authored by Overman and four of her mentored students, with collaborators at Penn State.

Amy Overman, professor in the Psychology Department and Neuroscience Program and assistant dean of Elon College, recently published two peer-reviewed journal articles that report findings from brain-imaging experiments on associative memory.

Amy Overman, professor in the Psychology Department and Neuroscience Program and assistant dean of Elon College

Overman and her mentored students at Elon conducted the research in collaboration with counterparts at The Pennsylvania State University, and funded by Overman’s 2016 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Examining the neural basis of congruent and incongruent configural contexts during associative retrieval,” which was published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, was co-authored by PSU graduate student Courtney Gerver, Overman, PSU undergraduate Harini Babu, Elon undergraduate Chloe Hultman ’20 and PSU faculty member Nancy Dennis. “Different types of associative encoding evoke differential processing in both younger and older adults: Evidence from univariate and multivariate analyses,” which was published in the journal Neuropsychologia, was co-authored by Dennis, Overman, Gerver, and Elon undergraduates Kayla McGraw ’19, Andrew Rowley ’18 and Joanna Salerno ’18.

Both articles report findings related to distinct patterns of brain activation that were observed in memory experiments when participants learned pairings of pictures and later remembered them, for example, remembering which particular scene was paired with a specific face. Changing the configuration of such pictures can influence how well a person remembers the pairings and what specific neural patterns underlie these memories in young and older adults. Understanding what helps or hinders memory and how different regions of the brain are engaged during memory tasks provides the foundation for future interventions to improve older adults’ memory performance.

JoCN and Neuropsychologia are both high-impact journals in the field, with Google Scholar citation rankings of #8 and #6, respectively, in the Cognitive Science category. As principal investigator of Elon’s Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory and Aging (CNMA) Laboratory, Overman mentors numerous undergraduate students in conducting scientific research that advances the understanding of how the brain and cognition work. Overman’s mentoring of undergraduates builds students’ sense of belonging and her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Colonial Academic Alliance.

Overman is the first Elon faculty member to be awarded funding from the NIH and she serves as project director for Elon’s first-ever funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.