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Rotman  > Research  > Labs  > Levine Lab  > Participate in Research  > The Role of Genetics in Individual Differences in Attention and Episodic Memory 

DNA, Affect, and Memory Project

Welcome to the DNA, Affect, and Memory Project (D.A.M.P.) site!

This is an exciting new study that investigates the role of genetics in attention and memory. We look forward to your participation in our study.

Our research is conducted at the University of Toronto, a non-profit academic institution.

What This Study Involves

This experiment involves the completion of a number of tasks on the computer as well as interview-style tasks. The study takes approximately two hours (120 min.) to complete in the lab. There are also online questionnaires to be completed before and after coming in (approx. 60 minutes total).

At the end of the study you will be asked to provide a sample of saliva. This will involve spitting into a tube until a sufficient amount has been collected. In order not to contaminate the sample, we will ask you to refrain from eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum for the last 30 minutes of the study.

Finally, following the present sessions, you may be contacted and requested to return for further sessions. These additional sessions are important to this study, so if you know with certainty that you will not be in (or have access to) Toronto for the next couple of years, we ask that you refrain from participating in this study.

If you are interested in participating in the study, please read the eligibility criteria below. All participants will be compensated for their time and expenses.

Eligibility Criteria

• You must have normal or corrected-to-normal vision to participate in this study.

• You must also be between 18-40 years of age

• You must be of full Caucasian descent. Our study is limited to a fully Caucasian sample because specific genetic polymorphisms may be expressed very differently in different populations. Moreover, the polymorphisms of interest have been primarily studied in Caucasians due to their low prevalence rate in non-Caucasian samples.

• We will require you to provide a saliva sample, so please let us know if any medications or circumstances prevent you from producing a sufficient amount of saliva.

If you do not meet all eligibility criteria but are still interested in participating in research, feel free to participate in an online memory questionnaire at:

For more information or if you are interested in participating, please contact Tayler Eaton and Aggie Bacopulos at

About this Study

Research shows that particular genetic variants can influence normal cognitive processes, including emotion, attention, and memory. However, this type of research is still in its infancy; it is unclear how particular genes influence these processes and how they interact with one another. Overall, a greater understanding of how particular genes affect different facets of memory may have important implications for understanding normal human memory as well as diseases associated with memory loss.

Meet the D.A.M.P. team

Adam Anderson, Ph.D
Associate Professor, Dept. of Psychology, University of Toronto
I received my B.A. in cognitive science at Vassar College, doctoral training in cognitive psychology at Yale University in 2000, and post-doctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at Stanford University. I joined the Cognition, Perception And Cognitive Neuroscience area of the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto in 2003 where I hold the Canada Research Chair in Affective Neuroscience. Our research explores the psychological and neural underpinnings of the emotions, from their facial and physiological expression to their interactions with cognitive processes such as attention and memory.

Brian Levine, Ph.D
Senior Scientist, Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest, Toronto
Professor, Dept. of Psychology, University of Toronto
Professor, Dept. of Medicine (Neurology), University of Toronto
Dr. Brian Levine is a neuropsychologist interested in the function and dysfunction of large-scale neural systems as expressed in complex human behaviors, including episodic and autobiographical memory, self-regulation, and goal management. Much of his research concerns syndromes seen in patients with focal brain lesions due to strokes and tumors, traumatic brain injury, dementia, and psychiatric disorders, although he also studies healthy young and older adults. Dr. Levine is particularly interested in the real-life deficits faced by patients with brain disease. As these deficits are often not readily apparent in standard neuropsychological or neurological examinations, Dr. Levine uses novel assessment techniques, coupled with multimodal neuroimaging (structural and functional MRI, EEG, and MEG) in his research.

Rebecca Todd, Ph.D.
My doctoral research focused on mapping brain activation patterns underlying emotional processing in young children, as well as studying individual differences in temperament and the development of self-control in childhood. Current research interests include investigating the effects of emotional arousal on the subjective experience of perceptual vividness following traumatic experience, and links between perceptual vividness and emotional memory. I am also interested in the influence of positive emotional states on both perceptual and conceptual processing, and the neural mechanisms underlying such influences.

Daniela Palombo
I study episodic autobiographical memory using behavioral and functional neuroimaging approaches. There is a great deal of variability among individuals in the ability to retrieve episodic details from personal past events. For my PhD research, I am exploring cognitive, neural and genetic factors that relate to these individual differences. The D.A.M.P. project, in particular, will allow us to investigate how various genetic variants relate to different facets of episodic memory capacity. In addition to this research, I am also part of a team that investigates the neural correlates of traumatic memory. In my spare time, away from Levinia, I enjoy fine (student) dining, traveling, going to concerts, watching stand up comedy and daydreaming!

Tayler Eaton
I am a fourth year student at U of T and I have taken on D.A.M.P. as my thesis project.

Aggie Bacopulos
I am in my final year of completing my B. Sc. in Neuroscience at McGill University and have been lucky enough to find a spot in the Levine Lab over the summer. In the D.A.M.P. project, I am involved mainly in recruitment, data collection and eventually I will be working on data analysis. I am excited to explore the different genetic variants associated with episodic and emotional memory! Although I am heading back to McGill for the year, I will still be involved in many aspects of this project and will return next summer to continue testing!

Robert Amaral

I am currently in my 3rd year of Life Sciences at the University of Toronto, studying Neuroscience and Cell/Molecular Biology. The complexity of the brain’s genetic influences over individual memory differences is without a doubt a fascinating topic, so it is to no surprise that I am excited to be a part of the D.A.M.P. study! My passions include: science (in any shape or form), painting, drawing and of course playing the guitar!

Angela Zhang
I am a fourth year Psychology Research Specialist student at the University of Toronto. I have taken on the D.A.M.P project as my individual project, as I am especially interested in studying individual differences in memory using the Autobiographical Interview approach. Apart from being a (typical) student, I am also a self-proclaimed amateur photographer and jazz enthusiast!

If you are interested in participating, or would like to learn more about the study, please contact Tayler Eaton and Aggie Bacopulos at