PhD in Cognitive Psychology, 2017
Koç University, Istanbul
MSc in Abnormal and Clinical Psychology, 2011
University of Wales, Swansea
BA in Psychology and Management, 2009
Istanbul Bilgi University
Learning is easier when you are familiar with the material. You can build on the knowledge that resides in your long-term memory where we save our life-long memories. For instance, you need to go to the dentist. You find one, make an appointment, and find the address. You see that is is a few blocks away from your favorite coffee shop. You think ‘I got this!’ and head out. You know exactly how to go to the coffee shop and there is no need to learn this part of the way. Instead, you focus on the novel parts. Research shows that learning something that consists of already known material is easier compared to a completely novel information such as an address you know nothing about. I am very interested in how this works and I design experiments similar to these examples and test people’s memories for the novel, partially-known, or completely known information and examine how prior knowledge facilitates learning.
Memories can be influenced by similarities between elements of an experience or between different experiences. Imagine seeing three cars back to back which were all dark grey and SUVs on the highway on your way back from a trip. You go back home and you receive an amber alert on your phone. It describes a dark grey SUV with a driver who was wearing a green sweater last seen on the same highway you passed. You are alerted, you think you can help. What can you remember? Research shows during the time of encoding, the cars being similar to each other might have helped you record more details about them. You didn’t have to encode each car’s color or model which could have saved cognitive resources for encoding other details such as the sweater of the driver. This is one benefit of similarity. Now, let’s go back to the time you have to remember these details you recorded. If you had seen one dark grey SUV, you could zoom in this one memory and try to match what you remember from the driver to what is described. But you have seen three of them back to back, close in time and space. Your clue for remembering these memories is the same; grey SUV. When you start searching your memories with this clue, it will bring three drivers instead of one. These memories will interfere with each other and can lead to erroneous recall.This is a detrimental effect of similarity. My research focuses on both sides of the sword. I investigate both the beneficial and detrimental effect of similarity on memories. Why is this important? Nobody likes forgetting or inaccurate remembering but there are also real life consequences. False memories can lead to wrongful convictions.