People

Present Lab Members


Principal Investigator

Ayanna K. Thomas, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychology at Tufts University, Dr. Thomas investigates the subjective experience that accompanies memories. Her research encompasses metacognition, memory distortion, eyewitness memory, and age related changes in memory. Dr. Thomas received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Washington, and then spent three years as an NIA postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. She spent a final year at Washington University as a research scientist, studying changes in long-term memory as a function of aging. After teaching at Colby College for two years, Dr. Thomas came to the Department of Psychology at Tufts University, where she established the Cognitive Aging and Memory Lab in 2007. Graduate and Undergraduate students interested in working in the Cognitive Aging and Memory Lab should contact Ayanna for more information. Dr. Thomas' research has been funded by grants from the National Institute on Aging and National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, and has been featured in such popular media outlets as Psychology Today, The Initiative for Neuroscience and the Law, and the L.A. Times.



Graduate Students

Amy Smith, M.S.
Amy is broadly interested in the effects of stress on memory retrieval. In research with older adults, she examines how different psychological stressors (e.g., stereotype threat, social evaluation) affect false memory susceptibility. In research with young adults, she examines ways in which memory can be strengthened against the deleterious effects of psychological stress. Amy approaches these topics from both theoretical and applied perspectives, aiming to elucidate the cognitive mechanisms underlying behavioral observations and provide insight for real-world scenarios. Amy received her B.A. in Psychology and Mathematics from The State University of New York at Potsdam in 2013 and her M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Tufts University in 2015.

Clinton Perry, M.S.
Co-advised with Robin Kanarek and Holly Taylor
Most of us are acutely aware of caffeine’s ability to wake us up in the morning and give us more energy to get through the day, though we may not always consider the other effects caffeine has on our body and mind. Clint’s primary line of research concerns the effect of caffeine on memory as well as general cognitive well-being, both in the immediate and the long term. While some of his research has focused on older adult populations and the effects of a lifetime of caffeine use, current projects are aimed at elucidating the acute effect of caffeine on memory consolidation and item discrimination. The general consensus is that caffeine has little to no effect on long term memory. However, by borrowing methodological approaches with other psychostimulants (e.g., cocaine and d-amphetamine), this research intends to show that the typical approach to caffeine research may be insensitive to the acute effects of caffeine on memory function.

Ruizhi Dai, M.S.
Co-advised with Holly Taylor
Ruiz graduated from Chongqing Technology and Business University with a B.S. in Applied Physics. After graduation she joined the Tufts Spatial Cognition Lab as a research assistant working on spatial cognition. Ruiz received her M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Tufts University in 2015. Ruiz is currently working on exploring and comparing younger and older adults’ visuospatial working memory. She is also interested in examining spatial memory and learning in virtual environments. .

Renee Decaro
Renee earned her B.S. in Psychology from University of Southern Indiana. Before coming to Tufts, she worked at the Memory and Cognition Lab at Brandeis University, where she investigated how working memory demands impact speech comprehension for older adults with and without hearing loss. Her primary research interests include investigating differences in metacognition and self-regulation of study in younger and older adults. She also investigates the relationship between social isolation and cognition in older adults who have relocated to independent living communities.

Gregory Hughes
Greg earned his B.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is a second year graduate student in the Cognitive Aging and Memory Lab. His research interests encompass the theoretical and applied dimensions of human learning and memory. Specifically, his research examines the factors that facilitate, or impair, one’s ability to introspect accurately on the learning process. His research also investigates the corruption of eyewitness memory, with an emphasis on promoting accurate memory performance in that domain.

Alia Wulff
Alia received her B.S. in Psychology in 2015 from Western Washington University. She worked in an applied cognition lab at Western for three years before enrolling at Tufts, researching topics such as intrusive and involuntary thoughts, how we can misremember the source of our memories, and the impact inattentional blindness has on eyewitness memory. Alia's main interest lies in the field of eyewitness memory and accuracy. More specifically, her current research focuses on how misinformation can impact eyewitness accuracy.