Daniel Dillon, PhD

Director, Motivated Learning & Memory Laboratory

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry

McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School

Office: deMarneffe Building, office 244
Phone: 617-855-4233

Email: ddillon@mclean.harvard.edu

Ph.D., Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University, 2006

B.S., Biology and Psychology, Duke University, 1997


Research Interests

Dr. Dillon’s laboratory is focused on understanding how depression affects the psychological processes and neural systems that support learning and memory. Certain facts about depression and memory are well-known. First, depressed adults typically show an emotional memory bias: relative to healthy controls, they exhibit poor memory for positive events but intact—or even enhanced—memory for negative events. Second, depression often involves impaired recollection. Asked to recall a prior event, depressed adults often complain that their memories are hazy, such that it is difficult to recollect any details. These phenomena are clinically important—they are troubling to patients, and they contribute to the profoundly negative effect that depression has on productivity at work. Unfortunately, however, they are also poorly understood. Although we know that depression is associated with learning and memory problems, we do not understand this relationship in any mechanistic detail. In other words, we do not know precisely how depression affects the brain systems responsible for forming and retrieving memories. Dr. Dillon’s laboratory uses behavioral experiments, multi-modal neuroimaging, and computational modeling to address this problem. Our aim is to advance the human neuroscience of learning and memory while providing new insight into the nature of depression. Ultimately, this approach should uncover specific neurobiological mechanisms that could be directly targeted for treatment.

Publications list on Google Scholar