Daniel L. Schacter
Research interests: Cognitive neuroscience of memory, imagination, future thinking, creativity, and aging
Daniel Schacter received his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1974 and his Ph.D. in from the University of Toronto in 1981. He remained at Toronto until joining the University of Arizona in 1987. In 1991, he was appointed Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and served as Chair of the Psychology Department from 1995-2005. Schacter’s research has focused on both cognitive and neural aspects of human memory; he and his colleagues have published over 400 articles on these and related topics. Many of Schacter‘s ideas are summarized in his 1996 book, Searching for Memory, and his 2001 book, The Seven Sins of Memory, both named Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times and both winners of the American Psychological Association’s William James Book Award. Schacter has also received a number of awards for his research, including the Warren Medal from the Society of Experimental Psychologists, Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions from the American Psychological Association, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.
Schacter’s research is broadly concerned with understanding the nature and function of human memory, using cognitive, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging approaches. He is especially interested in understanding the constructive nature of memory: why it is that memory is not always accurate, and how memory distortions can provide important insights into the working of memort memory works. Much recent research in his lab has explored the idea that memory plays a critical role in allowing individuals to imagine or simulate events that might occur in their personal futures. He has suggested that understanding memory’s role in future event simulation may be important for understanding the constructive nature of memory, because the former requires a system that allows flexible recombination of elements of past experience, which may also contribute to memory errors. Other related topics of current interest include the contributions of memory to creativity and problem solving, effects of aging on various aspects of memory and cognition, relations among memory, learning and mind wandering, and how to improve learning from lectures.