Thesis title: Characterising the effect of semantic and perceptual similarity in episodic memory
School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
Deptartment of Psychology (Room F23)
7, George Square
University of Edinburgh
- Post code
- EH8 9JZ
Ph.D. Candidate @ The University of Edinburgh
Home Town: Ancona, Italy
Bs - Psychological Sciences and Techinques - G. D'Annunzio University - Chieti/Pescara, Italy
MSc - Neuroscience and Neuropsychological Rehabilitation - University of Bologna - Bologna, Italy
2018-19 Co-supervision of 2 BSc Honors projects, The University of Edinburgh
2020 Data Analysis for Psychology in R1, The University of Edinburgh.
2017-20 Research Methods and Statistics 3 using R, The University of Edinburgh.
2017-20 Research Methods and Statistics 2 using R, The University of Edinburgh.
2017-20 Research Methods and Statistics 1 using R, The University of Edinburgh.
2017 Cognitive Psychology, The University of Edinburgh.
My research focuses on how people can remember events they have previously encountered, and why sometimes they falsely recognize things they have never encountered before. I use psychological behavioural studies and brain imaging techniques, like functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI) to answer these questions.
Current research interestsMy PhD research is on the relation between perceptual and semantic information and episodic memory in young and older adults. Memory errors are more common when novel incoming information is similar to previously encountered events: people mistake the new information for familiar information, leading to false recognition. This effect is often increased in older adults. Current theories explain these mnemonic discrimination errors in terms of semantic gist. This kind of memory is usually spared in older adults and it seems that they may rely more on semantic gist than younger adults when processing information. I am interested in understanding more about the information on which gist is based, and the role that perceptual as well as semantic relations may play. In order to investigate the neural basis of gist memory, I am also employing advanced innovative neuroimaging techniques such as Representational Similarity Analysis.
Past research interestsDuring my Master’s study I previously researched medial temporal lobe mechanisms underlying the two recognition memory processes of familiarity and recollection. During an internship in the Cabeza lab at Duke University, US, I also investigated the role of the posterior parietal cortex during High vs Low confidence responses and the associated phenomenon of Encoding-Retrieval Flip, one of the most robust effect noticeable through the fMRI.
The research I propose, using behavioural and functional imaging studies, has the potential to make significant advances in understanding how memory works, including age-related differences. It is important to shed light on the conditions under which memory is sometimes facilitated, but also to understand all the factors that promote memory errors.
Past project grants
2017 Principal’s Career Development Ph.D. Scholarship (£43,500), The University of Edinburgh
2016 Study Grant for Dissertation Abroad (€6,000), The University of Bologna
Naspi, L., Hoffman, P., Devereux, B., & Morcom, A. Object-specific visual and semantic representations contribute to subsequent true and false recognition: an fMRI study with RSA. Poster presentation for the British Neuroscience Association (BNA), Online Festival of Neuroscience, UK, April 2021.
Naspi, L., Hoffman, P., & Morcom, A. Semantic and perceptual representations mediating object-specific memory encoding: a pre-registered fMRI study. Poster with video presentation for the Virtual Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS), 27th Annual Meeting. Boston, US, May 2020 (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1kvrWoBhJSVUmAcnL8NTVtgV4EyDBKpen?usp=sharing)
Naspi, L., Hoffman, P., Devereux, B., Thejll-Madsen, T., Doumas, L. A., & Morcom, A. Characterizing semantic gist in episodic memory. Talk given at Experimental Psychology Society (EPS) Meeting. Bournemouth, UK, July 2019.
Published & In Press
 Naspi, L., Hoffman, P., Devereux, B., Thejll-Madsen, T., Doumas, L. A., & Morcom, A. (in press). Multiple dimensions of semantic and perceptual similarity contribute to mnemonic discrimination for pictures. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Memory, Learning, and Cognition. Preprint: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/qt5wc.
Naspi, L., Hoffman, P., Devereux, B., & Morcom, A. Perceptual and semantic representational content of objects contribute to subsequent true and false recognition of pictures. Target: Journal of Neuroscience, submitted in March 2021. Preprint: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.03.31.437847v1.abstract
Naspi, L., Hoffman, P., Devereux, B., Thejll-Madsen, T., Doumas, L. A., & Morcom, A. Reducing emphasis of shared semantic information affects object mnemonic discrimination in older adults. Target: Memory, for submission May 2021 (see preregistration https://osf.io/3h7kf).