Marc Coutanche

Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychology

Research Scientist, Learning Research & Development Center


Education and Training

PhD, University of Pennsylvania

Research Interests

My lab has two core areas of research. First, we draw on the methods of cognitive neuroscience to understand how the human brain learns and stores knowledge, and how new knowledge influences other cognitive systems. One of the lab's main approaches is to combine neuroimaging experiments with advanced computational techniques. These analysis approaches can help us identify and -just as importantly- understand how information is being represented in the complex activity patterns of human cortex. Another key approach is using behavioral investigations to research how new knowledge becomes integrated into our memory systems.

A second focus is the development and use of new analytical approaches to probe functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. One of the biggest challenges of the recent growth in 'big data' is identifying meaningful patterns from the immense amount of data that is available to us. We are working on approaches to understand how the information in the brain's networks is successfully integrated across different regions and brain systems.

Cognitive Neuroscience Imaging Methods Learning & Memory Memory

Related Research Areas

Cognitive & Neural Foundations of Learning

Recent Publications

Lee, S-H., Liu, X., & Coutanche, M. (2021). Editorial: Neural Mechanisms of Memory Retrieval and Its Links to Other Cognitive Processes. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Ren, X., & Coutanche, M.N. (2021). Sleep reduces the semantic coherence of memory recall: An application of latent semantic analysis to investigate memory reconstruction. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

Koch, G.E., Paulus, J.P., & Coutanche, M.N. (2020). Neural patterns are more similar across individuals during successful memory encoding than during failed memory encoding. Cerebral Cortex.

Bruett, H., Calloway, R.C., Tokowicz, N. & Coutanche, M.N. (2020). Neural pattern similarity across concept exemplars predicts memory after a long delay. NeuroImage, 219.

Koch, G.E., Akpan, E., & Coutanche, M.N. (2020). Image memorability is predicted by discriminability and similarity in different stages of a convolutional neural network. Learning & Memory, 27(12), 503-509.

Marc's Google Scholar profile

News and Awards

Marc Coutanche, Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychology, and LRDC Faculty, was featured in a newsletter by Popular Mechanics magazine, titled "Your Conscious Mind is Terrible at Multitasking: Here's Why."

October 25, 2021


"Why Do We Want to Love Aliens?" Read Marc Coutanche's answer in the May 26 Pittwire "What's Out There?"

May 26, 2021


Kudos to Marc Coutanche, LRDC Research Scientist, and Assistant Professor, Psychology, who has been elected to the Memory Disorders Research Society (MDRS), an invitation-only professional society dedicated to the study of memory and memory disorders.

November 2020

Marc Coutanche, Griffin Koch, and John Paulus’ recent publication in Learning & Memory, "Influences on memory for naturalistic visual episodes: Sleep, familiarity, and traits differentially affect forms of recall,” abstract in June Research Roundup has been selected for the cover of the journal. Former LRDC research staff (now on his way to grad school), John Paulus, created the image. It is composed of frames of video episodes shown to people in the study and arranged to reflect a Shoebill, a bird that was featured in some of these episodes.

July 2020


Kudos to PI Marc Coutanche and co-I Natasha Tokowicz for NSF-funded research examining how the brain represents different granularities of a concept (animal, mammal, dog, Labrador, Fido). The work will use a series of fMRI experiments to test competing hypotheses for how the corresponding brain activity influences new learning, retrieval, and consolidation through sleep.

June 12, 2020

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