Charles R. Gallistel

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick


Primary Section: 52, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences
Secondary Section: 28, Systems Neuroscience
Membership Type: Member (elected 2002)

Research Interests

My research pursues a psychophysical approach to screening for memory malfunction in genetically manipulated mice. The purpose is to make possible a genetic attack on the problem of the physical (cellular and molecular) basis of memory by developing behavioral screening methods that distinguish between genetic defects in memory per se and genetic defects in the many processes that affect the extent and how memory is manifest in behavior. Memory is the mechanism(s) that carry information forward in time within nervous systems. My behavioral screens look for distortions and increased noise in simple quantitative memories like interval duration, distance, and number. It is psychophysical in character in that it tests memory for the same simple quantity repeatedly (hundreds of times) and processes the results with the kind of elaborate statistical analysis employed in psychophysical work on sensory systems. As in sensory psychophysics, the goal is to extract from behavioral data quantitative properties of the underlying mechanisms. The experimental research grows out of my theoretical research on problem-specific (modular) information-processing approaches to learning and memory.

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