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Michael C. Anderson

Departments and Institutes


Research Interests

Dr. Anderson focuses on fundamental mechanisms of memory, attention, and cognitive control, and their interaction. A central observation is that memory, like other aspects of cognition and behaviour, poses problems of control. Dr. Anderson uses behavioural, haemodynamic (fMRI) and electrophysiological (EEG) neuroimaging to investigate the cognitive and neural mechanisms by which people suppress distracting and unwanted memories. A key focus is on the hypothesis that memory control engages mechanisms involved in suppressing prepotent responses, to down-regulate activity in neural structures that represent past experience, disrupting memory. The project is thus concerned with the role of frontally-mediated inhibitory control mechanisms in both incidental and motivated forgetting. These theoretical issues have direct translational relevance. The program studies healthy volunteers, young and older, and patients with disordered control over memory, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Key Publications

Wimber M, Alink A, Charest I, Kriegeskorte N, Anderson MC (2015), “Retrieval induces adaptive forgetting of competing memories via cortical pattern suppression.” Nat Neurosci

Catarino A, Küpper CS, Werner-Seidler A, Dalgleish T, Anderson MC (2015), “Failing to Forget: Inhibitory-Control Deficits Compromise Memory Suppression in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” Psychol Sci

Anderson MC, Hanslmayr S (2014), “Neural mechanisms of motivated forgetting.” Trends Cogn Sci 18(6):279-92

Benoit, R, Hulbert, JC, Huddleston, E, & Anderson, MC (2014), “Adaptive top-down suppression of hippocampal activity and the purging of intrusive memories from consciousness” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

Gagnepain P, Henson RN, Anderson MC (2014), “Suppressing unwanted memories reduces their unconscious influence via targeted cortical inhibition.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111(13):E1310-9

Benoit RG, Anderson MC (2012), “Opposing mechanisms support the voluntary forgetting of unwanted memories.” Neuron 76(2):450-60

Levy BJ, Anderson MC (2012), “Purging of memories from conscious awareness tracked in the human brain.” J Neurosci 32(47):16785-94

Anderson MC, Ochsner KN, Kuhl B, Cooper J, Robertson E, Gabrieli SW, Glover GH, Gabrieli JD (2004), “Neural systems underlying the suppression of unwanted memories.” Science 303(5655):232-5

Levy BJ, Anderson MC (2002), “Inhibitory processes and the control of memory retrieval.” Trends Cogn Sci 6(7):299-305

Anderson MC, Green C (2001), “Suppressing unwanted memories by executive control.” Nature 410(6826):366-9

Anderson MC, Spellman BA (1995), “On the status of inhibitory mechanisms in cognition: memory retrieval as a model case.” Psychol Rev 102(1):68-100

Anderson, M.C., Bjork, R.A., & Bjork, E.L. (1994), “Remembering can cause forgetting: Retrieval dynamics in long-term memory. ” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition 20, 1063-1087