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McLean researcher

Daniel G. Dillon: Motivated Learning and Memory Laboratory

The ability to rapidly learn and remember complex information is crucial to personal and professional success. However, the stress associated with this challenge can elicit depression in vulnerable people.

This can trigger a vicious cycle. The negative effects of depression on learning, motivation, and memory increasingly destabilize day-to-day life. Because the brain mechanisms responsible for these problems are poorly understood, they are difficult to treat.

The Motivated Learning and Memory Laboratory works to examine this problem using various techniques. These include computational models, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and measurements of electrical activity on the scalp (electroencephalography, or EEG).

Our focus is working to understand how depression affects the brain systems that support motivation, learning, and memory. The long-term goal of our work is to contribute valuable discoveries that will help prevent and treat depression.

The Motivated Learning and Memory Laboratory, founded in 2014, is part of the Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research (CDASR), established at McLean Hospital in 2010. The goal of the CDASR is to identify the biological, environmental, and psychological factors that contribute to depression and anxiety and translate those findings into new treatments.