top of page

News! The M&M Lab would like to welcome Michelle Hirsch, who will be starting her MA, under co-supervision with Dr. Andrée-Ann Cyr, in Fall 2024! 🎉

big questions

We study human memory and spontaneous thought.

What makes an experience sticky -- likely to form a lasting memory or shape our spontaneous thoughts?

Are there laws that govern how we move from one thought to the next?

How is our ability to re-experience the past implemented in the brain?

How can we use stories as a tool to learn about the architecture of the human mind?


Our goal is to contribute to understanding how the human mind works, particularly in the domains of memory and spontaneous thought.

We strive to pursue a rigorous and creative science, that addresses cognition at the level of subjective experience and its underlying computation.

We believe that promoting diversity in those who do science (e.g., race, gender, class, sexuality, ability) is a necessary step towards achieving the rigorous and creative science of the mind that we want. 


stories change how we think

Stories seem to have a lasting influence on how we think. How do we measure this influence?  What are its consequences? Our lab examines how and why stories linger in our spontaneous thoughts, using techniques from natural language processing. [talk] [paper]

prior knowledge and new learning

If we know a lot about something, will our memory for a specific instance of seeing that thing be richer in detail? Here, we use naturalistic stimuli (e.g., famous faces, popular logos) to explore how prior knowledge affects the quality of our memories. [paper]

hippocampus and memory

The hippocampus, a brain structure tucked deep in our medial temporal lobe, is involved in our ability to remember past events. Are all parts of the hippocampus equal? Here, we examine the possibility that different aspects of the hippocampus (anterior vs. posterior)  preferentially represent gist-like vs detailed information. [paper]

default mode network

The default mode network, a set of functionally coupled brain regions, plays an important role in a variety of contexts, including: remembering, future imagining, story comprehension, mentalizing, and mind-wandering, among others. Could these regions be ideally situated in the brain to represent our internal models of the external environment [paper] [commentary]

selected papers

*For a complete list, please see Google Scholar.

preprints / forthcoming



Honey, C. J.,  Mahabal, A., Bellana, B. (2023). Psychological momentum. Current Directions in Psychological Science. [pdf]

Bouffard, N., Golestani, A., Brunec, I. K., Bellana, B., Barense, M. D., Moscovitch, M. (2023). Single voxel autocorrelation uncovers gradients of temporal dynamics in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex during rest and navigation. Cerebral Cortex. 33, 3265-3283. [pdf]

Bellana, B., Ladyka-Wojcik, N., Lahan, S., Moscovitch, M. & Grady, C.L. (2023). Activity in the left angular tracks both recollection and prior knowledge during recognition. Brain Structure & Function. 228, 197-217. [pdf]

Bellana, B.,  Mahabal, A., Honey, C. J. (2022). Narrative thinking lingers in spontaneous thought. Nature Communications. 13(1), 4585. [pdf, data]

Bellana, B., Mansour, R.,  Ladyka-Wojcik, N., Grady, C.L. & Moscovitch, M. (2021). The influence of prior knowledge on the formation of detailed and durable memories. Journal of Memory and Language. 121,  104264. [pdf, data]

Lee, H., Bellana, B., & Chen, J. (2020). What can narratives tell us about the neural bases of human memory? Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 32, 111-119. [pdf]

Ramanan, S. & Bellana, B. (2019, commentary). A domain general role for the angular gyrus in retrieving internal representations of the external world. The Journal of Neuroscience, 39(16), 2978-2980. [pdf]

Brunec, I.K.*, Bellana, B.*, Ozubko, J.D., Man, V., Robin, J., Liu, Z-X., Grady, C.L., Rosenbaum, R.S., Winocur, G., Barense, M.D. & Moscovitch, M. (2018). Multiple scales of representation along the hippocampal anteroposterior axis in humans. Current Biology, 28(13), 2129-2135.e6  [pdf]

*Equal contributions

Bellana, B.*, Liu, Z-X.*, Diamond, N., Grady, C.L. & Moscovitch, M. (2017). Similarities and differences in the default mode network across rest, retrieval and future imagining. Human Brain Mapping, 38(3): 1155-1171. [pdf]

*Equal contributions

Anderson, J.A.E., Sarraf, S., Amer, T., Bellana, B., Man, V., Campbell, K.L., Hasher, L. &
Grady, C.L. (2017). Task-linked diurnal brain network reorganization in older adults: A graph theoretical approach. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 29(3), 560-572. [link]

Bellana, B., Liu, Z., Anderson, J.A.E., Moscovitch, M. & Grady, C.L. (2016). Laterality effects in functional connectivity of the angular gyrus during rest and episodic retrieval. Neuropsychologia, 80(8): 24-34. [pdf]


noun_live long and prosper_938019.png

Buddhika Bellana

Principal Investigator


William Fisher

MA Student

Focus: episodic memory, consolidation


Christiane Marie Canillo

Research Assistant

Focus: spontaneous thought, rumination


Riya Trikha

Research Assistant

Focus: spontaneous thought


Zoé Labonté

Honours Thesis Student

Focus: spontaneous thought, depression


Leyao Wang

Honours Thesis Student

Focus: narratives, natural language processing


Maab Abdel Kadir

Research Practicum Student


Lab Alumni

Click here!

Lab Photos

Click here!


demo: free association

Interested in measuring spontaneous thought? Check out our code for a free association task that we use in some of our research. [demo]

demo: self paced reading

In some of our experiments, we have participants read stories. Check out our self paced reading task and read a story at different levels of coherence.

tutorial repo

We're slowly building a repository of tutorials for the various tools we use in the lab (e.g., word embeddings in R; permutation testing; etc).

cool things
noun_Found Treasure_982202.png
cool things (from the internet)

citation diversity statement

A way to use AI tools to estimate the distribution of gender and ethnicities in the authors we cite. Check out this online tool to help you generate your own.


A searchable (!) repository of openly available behavioural datasets.

AI dungeon

Interactive fiction, where you collaborate with transformer models to create a story world of your own.

Word2Vec, in space

Word2Vec embedding space, but like, space. Fun and interactive way to get a handle on word embeddings.

TV tropes

An exhaustingly large, if not exhaustive, list of common tropes in TV and movies.

the living handbook of narratology

Interested in thinking about stories? Read about some of the key concepts in this evolving online handbook.

free speculative fiction

A massive database of freely available speculative (i.e.,sci-fi/fantasy) fiction.

the interactive fiction database

A whole world of (interactive) storytelling.

the noun project

Icons for everything.

bottom of page