Janet Metcalfe, PhD

Departments And Divisions

  • Department of Psychology (Columbia University)
  • Professor of Psychology (Columbia University)

Research in my laboratory centers on the development and test of a computational model of human episodic memory called the composite, holographic associative recall and recognition model. This distributed model is compared to other localist and distributed models of memory, and the predictions are tested against the memory performance of both normal and brain damaged people.

One component of the model is a novelty/familiarity monitoring system, thought to involve the frontal lobes. This component is responsible for, among other things, metamemory judgments, that is, for how we know what we will know. From this impetus, a research line has developed that investigates the mechanisms underlying and functions of human self-reflective, monitoring, tip-of-the-tongue, planning, and other metacognitive processes. This research examines both the role of metacognition in memory and cognition and the impact of the breakdown of metacognitive functions in selected patient populations. A second line of research stemming from the model (and contrasting it with other computational models) investigates the issue of how the elements within a representation are bound into an integrated memory trace. Experimental investigations of binding are being conducted with normal subjects and temporal lobectomy patients, and also by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques. Finally, we are engaged in developing a 'hot' system (amygdala)- 'cool' system (hippocampal) framework for the effects of stress on episodic memory.

Lab Locations

  • Schermerhorn Hall

    1190 Amsterdam Ave
    Room 401B, Mail Code: 5501
    New York, NY 10027
    (212) 854-7971

Research Interests

  • Theoretical Neuroscience
  • Cognitive/Systems Neuroscience
  • Systems and Circuits


  • Metcalfe, J. , Funnell, M., Gazzaniga, M. S. (1995).Right hemisphere memory veridicality: studies of a split-brain patient.Psycholog. Sci., March: 157-164.
  • Metcalfe, J. (1994). Methodological problems and pitfalls in the study of human metacognition. Ibid, pp. 93-114.
  • Metcalfe,J. (1994). Novelty monitoring, metacognition, and frontal lobedysfunction: implications of a computational model of memory. Ibid, pp.137-156.
  • Metcalfe, J. (1994). Introduction. Ibid, pp. vii-xiii.
  • J. Metcalfe and A. Shimamura (1994). Metacognition: Knowing About Knowing, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Metcalfe, J. (1993). Novelty monitoring, metacognition, and control ina composite holographic associative recall model: implications forKorsakoff amnesia. Psycholog. Rev., 100: 3-22.

For a complete list of publications, please visit http://www.columbia.edu/cu/psychology/metcalfe/Publications.html