The brain is incredibly efficient at turning whatever happens to us into the so-called episodic memory. The life-long accumulation of episodic memories greatly defines who we are and decides what we do. The Ji Laboratory aims to understand how the brain forms, stores, and uses episodic memories.
A recent theme in our research attempts to understand how the brain uses memories to guide or misguide the behavior. Many questions in the every day life are related to this research topic. Is seeing really believing? Why do we sometimes see things not there? How does our memory guide us walking in the dark? Why do we dream? Are dreams shaped by memories? Why are dreams bizarre, and yet make sense? Why do patients with post traumatic stress disorder suffer from recalls of unwanted memories? When we get old, why are we obsessed with our existing memories, but relatively uninterested in learning new things? How do behaviors break down in Alzheimer’s disease patients, who suffer from memory loss?