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
New methods of brain mapping will make it easier to identify the cortex areas responsible for speech functions and to perform operations on the brain, as well as reduce the likelihood of damage to important areas. In addition, this will allow for more frequent use of non-invasive methods for restoring speech and other functions lost due to injuries and illnesses.
Researchers at HSE University and the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Molecular Biology have proposed investigating the response of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), the brain's natural filter that becomes disrupted by the disease, to transcranial brain stimulation. Understanding how the BBB changes during stimulation can, in theory, enhance treatment by facilitating more effective delivery of medications to the brain in the early stages of the disease, and by providing therapeutic support for brain function in the latter stages. The study has been published in Communications Biology.
Neuroscientists from HSE University have criticized the famous studies that question the free will of our decisions. You can’t shift responsibility for your actions to the brain. The results of the new work were published in the Neuropsychologia journal.
HSE News Service spoke to Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neurosciences, Head of the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making at HSE University, Anna Shestakova about the achievements and goals of the new HSE University’s strategic project ‘Human Brain Resilience: Neurocognitive Technologies for Adaptation, Learning, Development, and Rehabilitation in a Changing Environment’.
HSE researchers have examined the brain's reaction to violations of social norms and calculated a behavioural index to assess an individual's sensitivity to unfairness. This index can potentially be used to develop individualised rehabilitation programmes for patients with various types of behavioural disorders. The study has been published in Neuroscience Letters.
Leading HSE University Scientists to Receive Grants from Ideas Research Centre for Neuroscience Research
The Ideas Centre for Advanced Interdisciplinary Research has announced the results of its 2023 competition. Five leading neuroscientists will receive grants to open graduate positions for early-career researchers who want to work on solutions to fundamental problems in this area. Three of the competition winners are scientists from HSE University: Matteo Feurra (HSE University in Moscow), Anastasia Kolmogorova (HSE University in St Petersburg), and Sofia Kulikova (HSE University in Perm).
A positive correlation has been discovered between the neural activity in the nucleus accumbens of study participants as they were presented with photographs of dishes from the menu of the Chaihona No. 1 restaurant chain and the sales performance of said dishes in the chain's establishments. This finding was made by a team of researchers of the HSE Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, Lomonosov Moscow State University, and ETH Zurich (Switzerland). The study findings have been published in PLoS One.
People who are fluent in two or more languages are less susceptible to age-related mental disorders. They more quickly process information and make decisions, have better memories, and can even better identify emotions. Scientists from various countries discussed the influence of a second language on the processes of cognitive aging at the international symposium ‘Bilingualism: Proper Learning, Effective Communication, and Pleasant Old Age’ hosted by HSE University.
After studying the brain scans of 13 Russian cosmonauts who participated in space missions to the ISS from 2014 to 2020, scientists discovered that prolonged exposure to microgravity had an impact on the connectivity of the brain structures responsible for adapting to unfamiliar conditions. The study revealed that these connections may not always return to their original state after the flight. The paper has been published in Communications Biology.
Researchers at the HSE Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience have discovered that analysing the electrical activity in the brains of a small group of people and studying their visual attention makes it possible to predict the impact of an online advertising campaign on a much larger group of 300,000 consumers. The paper has been published in Brain Sciences.