Lynn Nadel is a cognitive neuroscientist whose work has focused on the functions of the hippocampus in memory and spatial cognition, leading to significant contributions in the study of stress and memory, sleep and memory, memory reconsolidation, and the mental retardation observed in Down syndrome. He has promulgated, with collaborators, two highly influential theories: the cognitive map theory of hippocampal function, and the multiple trace theory of memory. He was raised in New York City, went to Stuyvesant High School, and then McGill University, where he received his BSc, MSc and PhD. He did an NIMH-sponsored postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Jan Bures amd Olga Buresova in Prague, Czechoslovakia, from 1967-70. He then spent six years as a Lecturer in the Anatomy Department at University College London, followed by a year at the VA hospital in San Diego, two years in the Psychology Department at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, and 5 years at UC Irvine, before settling at the University of Arizona, where he has served as Department Head, Interim Dean, and Chair of the Faculty in the 35 years he has been at Arizona. He is a Fellow of the Association of Psychological Societies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Society of Experimental Psychologists, an Honorary Member of the European Brain and Behavior Society, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Lynn Nadel is currently thinking about three issues: first, how best to understand the dynamic nature of memory, and its implementation in the brain. Specific research projects focus on the conditions that promote memory updating, and the neural mechanisms underlying memory alterations over time. Of particular interest is how to leverage what we know about memory change for clinical purposes. Ongoing studies are looking into how to alter maladaptive behavior patterns based on dysfunctional schemas by manipulating and changing these old schemas. The second issue concerns the critical role that details play in episodic memory, and in the aspects of such memories that engage the hippocampus. Several studies are exploring the possibility that details are important for memory narratives to be viewed as credible, or believable. The third issue concerns the way in which the brain, and in particular the hippocampus, processes and encodes information about context. Work in Nadel?s lab showed that the human anterior hippocampus (the ventral hippocampus in rats) is particularly important in coding environmental context. A recent theoretical piece (co-authored by Andrew Maurer) leverages dynamical systems and recurrent networks along the longitudinal axis of the hippocampal cognitive mapping system to solve a critical problem all mobile species face: where am I in the world?

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Primary Section

Section 52: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 28: Systems Neuroscience