What is the Connection between Memory and the Brain?
In Prof. Vakil's laboratory for brain, memory, and amnesia research, they are investigating the impact that age, brain injuries, and neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease have on memory
What is the connection between memory and the brain, and how do changes in the brain affect memory? In Prof. Eli Vakil's laboratory for brain, memory, and amnesia research at Bar-Ilan University's Gonda Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, they are investigating, inter alia, the impact that age, brain injuries, and neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease have on memory.
The lab is equipped with devices for monitoring eye movements (eye trackers) through which the lab technicians examine the impact of context on memory and on other learning processes.
In addition to his lab work, Prof. Vakil is also a rehabilitative neuropsychologist who treats, among other things, individuals with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), including IDF veterans who sustained head injuries. "It's important for me to research the implications of brain injury on various memory processes," he explains. "These studies are of theoretical importance because they contribute to the understanding of different components of memory and their relationships to different regions of the brain. In addition, this research has a clinical and rehabilitative contribution as it helps characterize the brain trauma population and advances diagnostic tools and techniques for the remediation of memory processes."
Prof. Vakil (now emeritus) has published more than 160 articles and chapters in scientific journals and has served as the thesis advisor for close to 100 graduate and post-doctoral students. He received the Distinguished Career Award of the International Neuropsychological Society (INS) and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rehabilitation Psychologist Association in Israel.
Throughout his academic career Prof. Vakil served in a number of positions, including head of Bar-Ilan's Department of Psychology; member of the university's Senate; member of the INS Board of Directors where he organized international conferences on neuropsychology in Israel and around the world; associate editor of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society – JINS; and head of the Rehabilitation Center for Veterans with Head Injuries, Jaffa (a joint project of Bar-Ilan and the Defense Ministry's Rehabilitation Division).
"Brain research is a fascinating and magical field; an encounter between the body and mind that is still shrouded in mystery," Prof. Vakil says in regards to his pull towards brain research. "I believe that understanding brain function is the key to curing various diseases as well as better understanding human behavior." In recent years he has been researching and writing about the connection between brain research and faith, particularly Judaism.