Dr. Payne’s research focuses on how sleep and stress influence human memory and psychological function.
After new information is encoded into memory, it continues to be processed and transformed by a process known as consolidation. This process solidifies memories, making them resistant to interference and decay, but emerging evidence suggests that it can also change memories in ways that make them more useful and adaptive. The questions driving this line of research are, “What happens to memories over time?” and “What are the mechanisms underlying memory solidification and memory change?” Dr. Payne uses two powerful tools to probe memory - sleep and stress. Both provide important mediums for targeting the consolidation process in humans. Dr. Payne combines behavioral, pharmacological and cognitive neuroscientific (EEG, fMRI) approaches to investigate these questions.
Another line of research examines important clinical questions, including how disturbances in sleep and stress influence memory consolidation in individuals with major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders such as PTSD, and how this, in turn, influences psychological functioning.