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Morris Moscovitch
Dr. Morris Moscovitch, FRSC
Max and Gianna Glassman Chair in Neuropsychology and Aging
University Professor Senior Scientist
Department of Psychology Rotman Research Institute
University of Toronto Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Health
100 St. George Street 3560 Bathurst Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3G3 Toronto, ON M6A 2E1
Tel: (416) 978-7815 Tel: (416) 785-2500 Ext. 3132
Fax: (416) 978-4811 Fax: (416) 785-2862
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Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 1972
Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 1967
Honours Psychology, McGill University, 1966

I was born in Bucharest, Roumania, but lived there only for the first few years of my life. Between the ages of four and seven, Morris_JillI lived in Israel then moved to Montreal, Canada. I became interested in memory research while attending McGill where I did my undergraduate thesis with Peter Milner. He and the rest of the superb faculty and graduate students inspired me to seek a career in neuropsychology. I continued my education at the University of Pennsylvania whose faculty and students were as inspiring as those at McGill.-I

I have been working at the University of Toronto since 1971. In addition to being a professor at UofT, I am also a Senior Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute of Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care. This academic centre, located in North York, is affiliated with the University of Toronto.


The objectives of my current research program are to gain an understanding of the processes and brain mechanisms mediating memory, attention and recognition of faces and objects. The research is guided by a neuropsychological model of memory that has four components: 1) the posterior neocortex that mediates performance on tests of memory without awareness; 2) the medial temporal lobes that automatically store information that is consciously apprehended at encoding and obligatorily recovers information on tests of conscious recollection that are cue-driven; 3) the frontal lobes that work with memories delivered to and by the medial temporal lobes and posterior neocortex, and recovered from them by supporting strategic processes that are needed at encoding and retrieval;4) the parietal cortex that directs attention to objects perceived in the external world and to internal processes necessary for memory encoding and retrieval.

Research on recognition of faces and objects will seek to determine whether internal and external features are processed differently and, if so, how these processes interact, how each contributes to recognition of upright and inverted faces, how they are related to processes that mediate perception of other complex visual stimuli such as words and objects, and what brain regions are involved.
Our research is done on young and old healthy people and on clinical populations with brain lesions or degeneration such as patients with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's Disease. We use behavioural, structural and functional neuroimaging techniques to address our questions.
Note: For a full listing of publications, please visit the Rotman Research Institute website [here] and travel to the "publications" heading (the page accepts direct requests for publication reprints) OR visit PUBMED listings by clicking [here].
Moscovitch, M., Winocur, G., & Behrmann (1997). What makes face-recognition special? Evidence from a person with visual object agnosia and dyslexia but normal face-recogniton. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 9, 555-604.
Our earlier studies on imagery challenged, and led to modifications, in the theory that imagery and perception share a common neural substrate. The paper focused on CK's intact face-recognition which allowed us to determine the stimulus properties of faces that drive the face-recognition system. This paper was featured in Science, as a news release by the Society for Neuroscience, and is cited often as the best evidence that faces are processed by dedicated neural mechanisms. (see the enclosed paper by Anaki and Moscovitch, Visual Cognition (2007) which is a continuation of this work with a focus on temporal integration.) 200 citations.
Moscovitch, M. (1992). Memory and working with memory: A component process model based on modules and central systems. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 4, 257-267.
This paper describes a model which attributes dissociable memory functions to posterior neocortex, medial temporal lobes (MTL), prefrontal cortex (PFC) and basal ganglia. According to the model, performance on implicit and explicit memory tests is determined by the neural components that are recruited, the interaction among them, and the information they represent, and operations they support. It continues to provide a framework for my work, and its basic formulations have become the standard ones in the field. (see the enclosed paper by Ciaramelli, Moscovitch & Grady, Neuropsychologia, (2008) and Cabeza, Ciaramelli, Olson and Moscovitch, Nature Reviews Neuroscience ,(2009) on the addition of parietal attention systems to the model). 264 citations.
Nadel, L. & Moscovitch, M. (1997). Memory consolidation, retrograde amnesia and the hippocampal complex. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 7, 217-227.
We proposed a multiple-trace theory (MTT) of memory as an alternative to the traditional consolidation theory which posits that with time memories can be maintained independently of the hippocampus. According to MTT the hippocampal complex is an integral part of the memory trace for an experienced event for as long as it exists. The hippocampal complex is needed to recover detailed memories of autobiographical episodes, including remote spatial memories. The model was tested and confirmed in amnesic people and neuroimaging studies in normal people in our laboratory and that of others . The MTT now rivals the traditional model and is cited in almost all studies on remote memory and consolidation. (See the enclosed paper by Moscovitch et al, 2005, and Moscovitch et al, 2005, J. Anatomy, and 2006, Curr. Op. Neurob.which are updates of this model). 361 citations.
Moscovitch, M. (1994). Cognitive resources and dual-task interference effects at retrieval in normal people: The role of the frontal lobes and medial temporal cortex.Neuropsychology, 8, 524-534.
This is the first in a series of papers that uses Divided Attention to explore the distinction between obligatory and strategic retrieval processes mediated, respectively, by the MTL and PFC. (For an update, see, below, all the papers by Fernandes et al, 2000-2007, and the review by Moscovitch et al, 2001.) 109 Citations.
Moscovitch, M., Rosenbaum, R.S., Gilboa, A., Addis, D.R., Westmacott, R., Grady, C., McAndrews, M.P., Levine, B., Black, S., Winocur, G., & Nadel, L. (2005). Functional neuroanatomy of remote episodic, semantic and spatial memory: A unified account based on multiple trace theory. Journal of Anatomy, 207, 35-66.
This is a comprehensive review of the remote memory literature that includes behavioural and neuroimaging studies, involving brain-damaged populations as well normal older adults. The review compares the ability of traditional consolidation theory and the more recent memory trace theory to explain the role of the hippocampus in remote memory, and concludes that the evidence favours the latter.
Rosenbaum, R.S., Priselac, S., Köhler, S., Black, S.E., Gao, F., Nadel, L., & Moscovitch, M. (2000). Remote memory in an amnesic person with extensive bilateral hippocampal lesions. Nature Neuroscience, 3, 1044-1048.
We examined remote spatial memory in K.C., an amnesic person with extensive bilateral lesions of the hippocampal complex. K.C. performed normally on spatial tests that assessed his knowledge of his neighbourhood and of the world, including natural navigation in his neighbourhood, sketch mapping, vector mapping, and blocked-route problem-solving. He was severely impaired in recognizing and identifying all but the major neighbourhood landmarks. The results suggest that the hippocampus does not appear to be crucial for the maintenance and retrieval of remotely-formed spatial representations that contain information about major landmarks, routes, distance and direction, but may be necessary for preserving a rich cognitive map with topographical details and environmental features.