Michaela Dewar


Dr. Michaela Dewar
Research Leader and Lecturer in Psychology
School of Life Sciences
Heriot-Watt University





E-mail: m.dewar@hw.ac.uk

Research Interests
My research group, together with the neurologists Sergio Della Sala (Edinburgh) and Adam Zeman (Plymouth), explores memory and forgetting in healthy people as well as in patients with amnesia, including amnestic MCI, Alzheimer’s Disease and temporal lobe epilepsy. I am particularly interested in the impact that behavioural/cognitive state has on the consolidation of new memories. Our research indicates that new memories are consolidated better when people rest wakefully immediately after new learning (minimal sensory input) than when they then attend to other information (high sensory input). In several studies, we have discovered that wakeful resting can substantially boost memory in many patients with amnesia, amnestic MCI or mild Alzheimer’s Disease. This suggests that (i) amnesia is associated, at least partly, with excessive memory interference, and thus (ii) that there may be an opportunity for interventions that boost memory consolidation by minimising such interference. Future research will focus on this possibility.

Key Publications
Craig M, Della Sal S and Dewar M. (2014) Autobiographical thinking interferes with episodic memory consolidation. PLOS ONE, in press.
Hoefeijzers S, Dewar M, Della Sala S, Zeman A and Butler C. (2013) Accelerated Long-term Forgetting in Transient Epileptic Amnesia: an acquisition or consolidation deficit? Neuropsychologia, 51: 1549-1555.
Dewar M, Alber J, Butler C, Cowan N, and Della Sala S. (2012) Brief wakeful resting boosts new memories over the long term. Psychological Science, 23, 955-960.
Dewar M, Pesallaccia M, Cowan N, Provinciali L and Della Sala S. (2012) Insights into spared memory capacity in amnestic MCI and Alzheimer’s Disease via minimal interference. Brain and Cognition, 78, 189-199.
Dewar M, Fernandez-Garcia Y, Cowan N and Della Sala S. (2009) Delaying interference enhances memory consolidation in amnesic patients. Neuropsychology, 23, 627-634.