From Spain’s Basque Country to Moscow, an HSE Research Fellow Studies Human Memory and Metamemory
After receiving her PhD in Psychology from the University of the Basque Country, Beatriz Martín-Luengo arrived in Moscow in 2015 to join the Centre for Cognition & Decision Making at HSE as a Research Fellow. Since then, she has pursued research interests that focus on the ecological study of human memory (i.e., variables that affect our recollection) and metamemory, which is the introspective knowledge of one's own memory capabilities (and strategies that can aid memory) and the processes involved in memory self-monitoring.
‘I work on lines of research with theoretical and applied implications, i.e., educational settings, eyewitness memory, advertising’, she says. ‘In my current position, I broadened my research interest to the pragmatics of conversational exchanges (i.e., how the social context affects the amount of information you are willing to share) for which I have conducted experiments using eye-tracker and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). More recently, I’ve been in the process of developing research on temporal dynamics in metamemory with the use of neurophysiological measures such us electroencephalography (EEG)’.
While passionately pursuing her research interests, Beatriz also ensures that she has adequate time to explore the recreational and cultural opportunities that Moscow has to offer.
‘To be honest, I thought that compared to my home-town there wouldn’t be many green spaces, and in fact there are lots of huge parks in the city where you can enjoy all kinds of leisure activities’, she says. ‘Parks like Sokolniki, Kolomenskoye, and Tsaritsino are my favourite spots. I also like Ekaterinsky Park and the Apothecary Garden, which are close to where I live’.
‘I’m really grateful for having had the chance to come here to work. The research environment is very stimulating, I’ve met wonderful and interesting people, have had the chance to live in a great city where you can do pretty much anything at any time of the day/week. The cultural calendar here is awesome and includes all kinds of events. There’s no time to get bored!’ she exclaims, adding that she dedicates time each month to concerts and other musical events in the city’s theatres, clubs and, during the summer, in the parks.
Despite the fact that she doesn’t have a strong command of Russian, Beatrix has found that communication hasn’t been the problem that some newcomers may anticipate. She communicates in English with her colleagues at the Centre for Cognition & Decision Making, and finds that mobile phone apps help with communication in everyday situations.
‘Apart from visiting/living in big Russian cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg, I had the experience of travelling on my own this summer to Vologda, Yaroslavl, and Rostov, which are all beautiful places with not many foreigner visitors; I didn’t have any trouble because of the language’, she says. Nevertheless, she does recommend that people learn how to read the Cyrillic alphabet and some basic Russian vocabulary.
While Beatrix didn’t have any firm expectations of what life would be like in Moscow, or Russia generally, she did come prepared to engage with people and learn about her new environment.
‘Now that I’m here, every time I see something that catches my attention I simply ask around’ she says. ‘One thing I watched before coming was a television programme about Spaniards living in Russia. It’s an interview/documentary in which Spaniards living abroad show what their lives are like in foreign countries. This gave me a glimpse of the city and the customs, but you can’t generalize or expect you’re going to experience something similar. For example, one of the people interviewed lived in an apartment with a sauna and for her that was a common feature in every house here!’
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service
An international team of researchers carried out an experiment at HSE University demonstrating that knowledge of several languages can improve the performance of the human brain. In their study, they registered a correlation between participants’ cognitive control and their proficiency in a second language.
A ‘Mega-Grant’ Competition for ground-breaking research projects funded by the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education was held for the seventh time, and this year’s competition winners included two projects that will be based at HSE University campuses. One research group will study dynamic systems at HSE – Nizhny Novgorod, and a new social neurobiology laboratory will begin work at HSE University in Moscow.
On September 23-24, the CCCP19 Symposium ‘Cognition, Computation, Neuroeconomics and Performance’ will be held at HSE University. The goal of the symposium is to exhibit cutting edge research at the CCDM, a leading cognitive neuroscience research centre in Russia, and LNC2, a leading European research centre in neuroeconomics, cognitive neuroscience and neural theory. Ahead of CCCP19, the HSE News Service spoke with the conference organizer and several invited speakers about the plan for this symposium and the importance of their research in the field.
In a competition for science bloggers held at HSE University, Vladimir Mikheev and Vikotria Zemlyak were among the top performers. The students of the English-taught Master’s programme ‘Cognitive Sciences and Technologies: From Neuron to Cognition’ produce ‘Neirochai’ (‘NeuroTea’), a science podcast. The duo spoke with the HSE News Service about their guests, their listeners and their future plans.
A team of post-graduate students and researchers from the HSE Centre for Cognition & Decision Making have invented a multiplayer BCI game, which is won by the player who best controls a robot with their mind.
The HSE Centre for Cognition and Decision Making together with a group of other Russian research centres is about to begin work on creating a mathematical model of the human brain. With its help scientists will be able to study the processes which take place in the brain and brain disease. It could be used for medical purposes in the future.