About me

What I currently do and where I've been:

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, working with Dr. Daniel Schacter. I completed my PhD in psychology at Boston College, supervised by Dr. Scott Slotnick, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas at Dallas, working with Dr. Michael Rugg.

Contact Information

Preston P. Thakral

Department of Psychology, Harvard University

33 Kirkland Street, William James Hall

Cambridge, MA 02138

prestonthakral@fas.harvard.edu

My research:

Episodic memory refers to the ability to mentally time travel and re-experience one’s personal past. Much like visual perception, episodic memory is generally construed to be a constructive process whereby the individual features or components of a prior experience (e.g., the people, place, and objects) are unified in a coherent episode when that experience is consciously remembered. An important function of episodic memory is to support the episodic simulation of future events (i.e., the ability to draw on elements of past experiences in order to construct episodes and mentally “try out” versions of what might happen in the future).

The focus of my research program is twofold: the primary focus is to understand the neural mechanisms supporting episodic memory, and the secondary is to examine the cognitive and neural underpinnings associated with episodic simulation.

I utilize a variety of cognitive neurosciences techniques in my research program:

  • fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) provides excellent spatial resolution which can be used to assess which neural regions are associated with a given process
  • TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) provides the opportunity to assess the necessity of a given neural region for a given cognitive process
  • ERPs (event-related potentials) provide excellent temporal resolution which can be used to assess when different processes are engaged

Some examples:

Using TMS, we examined the necessary role of neural regions in episodic memory and episodic simulation

(e.g., Thakral, Madore, & Schacter, 2017; Slotnick, & Thakral, 2011, Thakral & Slotnick, 2011)

Using fMRI, we tested whether sensory and non-sensory neural processing contributes to the subjective experience of episodic memory

(e.g.,Thakral, Wang, & Rugg, 2015)

Using ERPs, we identified when sensory processing occurs during episodic memory

(e.g., Thakral & Slotnick 2015)