Umass Psychology People
Dr. Rebecca Spencer
Position(s): Assistant Professor
Research in our lab broadly explores a range of questions pertaining to cognition and action and the intersection between them. We use a variety of techniques to explore how the brain learns cognitive and motor tasks and how this brain function changes over sleep.
Sleep and memory are both processes that change over the lifespan. In older adults, sleep quality decreases and memory impairments increase. In one series of studies (funded by the National Institutes of Aging (NIA)), we are interested in whether these processes are related. On the other hand, preschool age children are highly plastic and nocturnal sleep is supplemented with a mid-day nap. Whether this mid-day nap serves a memory function is important to early education policies. This line of work is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
In this work, we consider the neural underpinnings of learning and memory, for example, the role of the cerebellum in motor learning. We use an array of tools to explore these questions.