Maria Wimber – neural dynamics of adaptive memory


The scientific work in my lab is centred around the question how remembering works, and how it adaptively changes our memories. Retrieving a memory has been shown to have two sides. On the positive side, memories become more stable and permanent each time we reactivate them. On the other hand, remembering can also induce forgetting of related memories. This forgetting is in fact a highly adaptive capacity of human memory: our brains appear to function on a "use it or lose it" basis, retaining the information that is frequently reactivated, and discarding irrelevant, competing information.

We study these adaptive memory processes using a range of neuroimaging and electrophysiological techniques, including functional MRI, EEG, MEG, and various combinations of those techniques. Excitingly, we have recently started to record signals directly from the human hippocampus, with the help of epilepsy patients who undergo presurgical monitoring and volunteer to take part in our research. In terms of analytic approaches, my lab has a strong focus on multivariate pattern techniques (RSA, MVPA) that allow us to isolate individual memory representations in neural activation patterns, and to observe how these mnemonic patterns dynamically unfold over time when we are cued to retrieve a memory.

The work in my lab is funded by research grants from the European Research Council (ERC), the Economic and Social Sciences Research Council (ERSC), a postdoctoral fellowship from the Royal Society, and PhD scholarships from the BBSRC Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP) and the Stiftelsen Olle Enkvist Byggmästare.

about ME

I studied Experimental Psychology at the University of Regensburg (Germany), and obtained my Diploma (~MA) in 2004. During my PhD years (2004-2007) I worked on the neural mechanisms underlying competition and inhibition in episodic memory, under the supervision of Karl-Heinz Bäuml. From 2008-2010, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Alan Richardson-Klavehn's lab at the University of Magdeburg, using neuroimaging, including genetic imaging, to explore the neural processes involved in implicit and explicit memory. I then moved to the Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (CBU) in Cambridge (UK) on a post-doctoral fellowship awarded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). At the CBU, I continued my work on selective memory reactivation and mnemonic competition, using advanced pattern fMRI, EEG and MEG techniques (together with Mike C. Anderson, Rik Henson, and Niko Kriegeskorte). I joined the School of Psychology at UoB as a Lecturer in 2013, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2017.

Here is my CV, including a full list of publications.


LAB Members

Find out more about the current members of my lab here.



Linde-Domingo J, Treder MS, Kerrén C, Wimber M (2019). Evidence that neural information flow is reversed between object perception and object reconstruction from memory. Nature Communications 10, 179.

Kerrén C, Linde-Domingo J, Hanslmayr S, Wimber M (2018). An optimal oscillatory phase for pattern reactivation during memory retrieval. Current Biology 28, 3383-92.

Anthony, J.W., Ferreira, C.S., Norman, K.A., Wimber, M. (2017) Retrieval as a fast route to memory consolidation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 21, 573-76.

Wimber M, Alink A, Charest I, Kriegeskorte N, Anderson MC (2015). Retrieval induces adaptive forgetting of competing memories. Nature Neuroscience 18, 582-589.

Wimber M, Maaß A, Staudigl T, Richardson-Klavehn A, Hanslmayr S (2012). Rapid memory reactivation revealed by oscillatory entrainment. Current Biology 22, 1482-1486.

Wimber M, Schott BH, Wendler F, Seidenbecher CI, Behnisch G, Macharadze T, Bäuml KHT, Richardson-Klavehn A (2011). Prefrontal dopamine and the dynamic control of human long-term memory. Translational Psychiatry 1: e15, doi:10.1038/tp.2011.15.

Wimber M, Heinze HJ, Richardson-Klavehn A (2010). Distinct fronto-parietal networks set the stage for later perceptual priming and episodic recognition memory. Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 13272-80.

Wimber M, Rutschmann RM, Greenlee MW, Bäuml K-H (2009). Retrieval from episodic memory: neural mechanisms of interference resolution. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 21, 538-549.

Wimber M, Bäuml K-H, Bergström Z, Markopoulos G, Heinze H-J, Richardson-Klavehn A (2008). Neural markers of inhibition in human memory retrieval. Journal of Neuroscience, 28, 13419-13427.


in the media / Public Engagement

The Guardian - The Homer Simpson Effect: forgetting to remember

New York Times -  Memories weaken without reinforcement

BBC News - Remembering 'wipes similar memories'

The Times - Remembering relies on the things you are just about to forget

Scientific American - Can your brain really be full?

Forbes - Why remembering makes us forget

The Telegraph - If you remember this story, another memory will die off

BBC Naked Scientist - Remembering makes you forget

Nature podcasts - Forgetting to remember



m.wimber [at]

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT