Human Neuroscience Laboratory

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What We Do

Researchers in the Human Neuroscience Laboratory are discovering how the brain supports a variety of human cognitive processes, with a focus on episodic processing (such as those engaged during memory, future thinking, and divergent creative thinking). We do this by utilizing a variety of cognitive neuroscience techniques available in the laboratory, including:

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • Electrophysiology (EEG)
  • Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)
  • Psychophysiology
  • Eye-tracking
  • Behavioral measures

Not only do we conduct our own research, but another important mission of the Human Neuroscience Laboratory is to facilitate the research of anyone affiliated with the Human Neuroscience faculty of Boston College listed below. This includes collaboration on research projects and general consultation with research and design, analysis (e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging analysis), and write-up on all topics related to human neuroscience. We also provide mentorship for undergraduate students aiming to complete senior thesis projects (e.g., Undergraduate Research (PSYC220550), please contact the Operating Director, Dr. Preston Thakral at for more information

Human Neuroscience faculty

The Human Neuroscience Laboratory also provides training sessions for researchers (primarily Ph.D. students, postdoctoral fellows, and thesis writing undergraduate students) in the conduct of EEG, psychophysiology, eye-tracking, fNIRS, TMS, and fMRI analyses (please contact Preston at for more information). 

The Human Neuroscience Laboratory houses shared research equipment (e.g., TMS). If one is interested in employing this equipment they should contact Preston at We have iLab calendars for booking shared research space and equipment. 

Please click on the tabs to learn more about us and our research. 

Preston P. Thakral

Preston P. Thakral, Ph.D.
Operating Director and Senior Research Scientist, Human Neuroscience Laboratory

I am currently the Operating Director and Senior Research Scientist of the Human Neuroscience Laboratory in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Boston College. Previously, I was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, working with Dr. Daniel Schacter. I completed my PhD in psychology and neuroscience at Boston College, supervised by Dr. Scott Slotnick, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas at Dallas, working with Dr. Michael Rugg.

My research:

Episodic memory refers to memory for unique events that happened in a specific time and place. Scientists think of episodic memory not as a video camera that allows us to play a literal recording of a past experience, but instead as a constructive process: we remember bits and pieces of an event and link them together reconstructing the original episode. One of the most important questions faced by memory researchers is why episodic memory is supported by such constructive processes that are inherently prone to error and failure? 

Recent work has shown that the same constructive processes that support episodic memory are adaptive in that they help to support other human abilities. For example, an important function of episodic memory is to support the episodic simulation of future events (i.e., the ability to draw on elements of past experiences in order to construct episodes and mentally “try out” versions of what might happen in the future). 

The focus of my research program is twofold: the primary focus is to understand the neural mechanisms supporting episodic memory, and the secondary is to examine the cognitive and neural underpinnings associated with episodic simulation, and other adaptive functions that draw on episodic processing, like divergent creative thinking and means-end problem solving. For example, we have shown that the same constructive memory processes that support episodic memory have an adaptive benefit in supporting divergent creative thinking and open-ended problem-solving, but also have negative consequences in the form of greater false memories (Thakral et al., 2023, Memory & CognitionThakral et al., 2021, Cognition).

I utilize a variety of cognitive neurosciences techniques in my research program:

  • fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) provides excellent spatial resolution which can be used to assess which neural regions are associated with a given process

  • TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) provides the opportunity to assess the necessity of a given neural region for a given cognitive process

  • ERPs (event-related potentials) provide excellent temporal resolution which can be used to assess when different processes are engaged

Human Neuroscience Laboratory 
Preston P. Thakral, Ph.D
Operating Director and Senior Research Scientist
McGuinn Hall: Room 405