Rebecca Burwell

(401) 863-9208
Office Location: 
Metcalf 337
Research Focus: 
Neural bases of memory and attention

Dr. Burwell received her doctorate in Experimental and Biological Psychology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992. Her postdoctoral training in neuroanatomy and electrophysiology was at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at The State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has been at Brown since 1996 and is a Professor in the Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences with a secondary appointment in the Department of Neuroscience. Dr. Burwell trains graduate students in the Psychology Graduate Program and in the Neuroscience Graduate Program.

Research Summary:

Cognitive and Behavioral Functions of the Parahippocampal Region

We are interested in understanding the cognitive and behavioral functions of the cortical regions that surround the hippocampus. These regions include the perirhinal, postrhinal, and entorhinal cortices.

Functional Neuroanatomy of the Parahippocampal Region

The cortical regions that surround the hippocampus and provide its major sensory associational input are the perirhinal, postrhinal, and entorhinal cortices. We are currently documenting the cortical, subcortical, and hippocampal connections of these regions.

Research Interests:

For decades the hippocampus has been the focus of research on the neural basis of memory. Studies conducted over the last few years have provided evidence that cortical areas surrounding the hippocampus contribute to some forms of memory. Given the long-standing concept that the hippocampus serves a critical role in memory processes, the finding that some memory tasks are sensitive to lesions of these adjacent cortical regions, alone, has highlighted the need for close examination of the function of those adjacent structures. My research program uses neuroanatomical, experimental lesion, and electrophysiological approaches to examine the contribution of these regions, including the perirhinal, postrhinal/parahippocampal, and entorhinal cortices, to memory and to other higher cognitive functions. Among other approaches, we employ single-unit recording in behaving animals to examine neuronal firing correlates of behavioral events in tasks that tap such functions as spatial memory, recognition memory, configuration of multiple stimuli, attentional processes, and the processing of context. These approaches are used to differentiate the function of these cortical regions from each other and from those of the hippocampus.