Ayanna Thomas

Ayanna Thomas

(617) 627-4559
490 Boston Avenue
Research/Areas of Interest:

Memory and Aging


  • PhD, University of Washington, United States, 2001
  • BA, Psychology and African American Studies, Wesleyan University, United States, 1996


We frequently learn more about memory from its failures rather than its successes. As such, Dr. Thomas's research has delved into the various contexts that result in episodic memory failures--taking the theoretical perspective that memory decisions are inferential in nature. An episodic event is not represented as a single unit, but rather a distribution of elements that can be differentially accessed at retrieval. Accessibility to those elements influences both memory and metamemorial decisions. By influencing the accessibility of specific elements, or attributes, Dr. Thomas is able to bias retrieval. The result is memory and metamemorial failures. Dr. Thomas's research focuses on three specific situations related to retrieval bias: bias resulting from accessible encoded attributes; bias resulting from automatic processing at encoding and/or retrieval; controlling bias by improving retrieval monitoring.

Graduate and Undergraduate students interested in working in the Cognitive Aging and Memory Lab should contact Dr. Thomas.