Phase 1 of the project was dedicated to: literature review, hiring personnel designing protocols and drafting research plan. All of the above were possible by first establishing a solid and fluent collaboration between the Romanian and the Norwegian partners starting with the kick-off meeting at CINETic, UNATC in August 2019.
The design of behavioral task that we will use to test social spatial memory (SSM) was completed and development will start in next WP. The different parameters considered in this task will allow us to test the effects of social feedback on performing a virtual reality object location. In the next step, we will test the task behaviorally on a small group of healthy young volunteers, and if successful we will synchronize it with functional recordings to monitor brain activity.
The synchronization step is a major endeavor and we established the technical details that it will entail for fMRI and EEG acquisitions. To determine if social interactions are beneficial for episodic memory, we designed a novel paradigm, called social episodic memory task (SEM). We took advantage of our expertise in scriptwriting and film production, to write a novel and well controlled episodic memory test. We will continue this protocol with the production of three different yet structurally similar short films, that we will test on a group of healthy young volunteers. The 3rd major memory task, social autobiographical memory task (SAM) was designed to include similar conditions as SEM. Based on our previous work at CINETic, UNATC we will present subjects with different odors that are capable of triggering autobiographical memory and determine how social interactions can modulate the recollection of these memories.
Hypothesis to be tested by SSM, SEM and SAM are that social interactions could improve memory either by shared attention mechanisms and/or by modulation of perceived stress levels. The behavioral paradigms we designed will disambiguate between these possibilities