Myra Fernandes


Myra Fernandes Headshot

BSc (Waterloo), MA, PhD (Toronto)

Contact information

President - Canadian Society for Brain Behaviour & Cognitive Sciences

Mentorship Award - Women in Cognitive Sciences Canada

New Researcher Award - Canadian Psychological Association

Ontario Early Researcher Award - Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science

Fellow - Canadian Society for Brain Behaviour & Cognitive Sciences, Psychonomic Society, and Association for Psychological Science

Cognitive Neuroscience Lab

Watch a video about Dr. Fernandes' lab

My research program involves developing an understanding of the cognitive processes, and brain regions, involved in memory and language. I am interested in knowing how we encode new information, how it is organized and represented in the brain, and how we reactivate the information during retrieval. I am particularly interested in how these change as people age. I evaluate the ability of young adults and seniors to carry out a memory task under conditions in which there is another on-going task competing for their attention. I also use neuroimaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging: fMRI) to identify the brain regions and networks mediating memory processing; these are used to determine how the strategy and brain regions contributing to memory change as we age. A related research interest lies in understanding how different types of information (words, numbers, symbols, spatial layouts) are represented and organized in the brain, through the use of behavioural paradigms and fMRI. My other line of research examines the relationship between neuropsychological and neuroimaging methods of evaluation of language localization.

Funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Ontario Ministry of Research & Innovation.

Publications (past 4 years only)

Articles in Refereed Journals 

  • McCrackin, S., Lee, C., Itier, R., & Fernandes, M.A. (in press). Meaningful Faces: Self-relevance of semantic context in an initial social encounter improves later face recognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, PBR-BR-20-134.R2.
  • Yeung, R.C., & Fernandes, M.A. (2020). Recurrent Involuntary Autobiographical Memories:  Characteristics and Links to Mental Health Status. Memory, 1-13.
  • Roberts, B.R.T., Fernandes, M.A., & MacLeod, C.M (2020). Re-evaluating the influence of bilateral eye movements on memory. PLOS One, 15(1), e0227790.
  • Meade, M,E., Klein, M. & Fernandes, M.A. (2020). The benefit (and cost) of drawing in episodic memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(2), 199-210.
  • Roberts, B., Wammes, J., & Fernandes, M.A. (2020) Drawing with your eyes: Extending mnemonic research. Mind Pad, 9(1), 3-7.
  • Meade, M. E., Ahmad, M., & Fernandes, M. A. (2019). Drawing pictures at encoding enhances memory in healthy older adults and in individuals with probable dementia. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition. 1-22.
  • Wammes, J.D., Jonker, T. R., Fernandes, M.A. (2019). Drawing improves memory: The importance of multimodal encoding context. Cognition, 191, 103955.
  • Larche, C., Chini, K., Lee, C., Dixon, M.J., & Fernandes, M.A. (2019). Rare loot box rewards trigger larger arousal and reward responses, and greater urge to open more loot boxes. Journal of Gambling Studies
  • Robertson, A.D., Heckman, G.A.W., Fernandes, M.A., Roy, E.A., Tyas, S.L., & Hughson, R.L. (2019). Carotid pulse pressure and intima media thickness are directly and independently associated with cerebral hemodynamic pulsatility in asymptomatic older adults.  Journal of Human Hypertension, doi:10.1038/s41371-019-0295-7
  • Hack, E.E., Dubin, J.A., Fernandes, M.A., Costa, S.M., & Tyas, S.L. (2019). Multilingualism and Dementia Risk: Longitudinal Analysis of the Nun Study. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. 71, 201-212
  • Yeung, R.C., & Fernandes, M.A. (2019). Altered working memory capacity for social threat words in high versus low social anxiety. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 32(5), 505-521
  • Meade, M,E., Meade, J.G., Sauzeon, H., & Fernandes, M.A. (2019). Active navigation in virtual environments benefits older adults’ spatial memory. Brain Sciences, 9(3), 47
  • Yeung, R.C., & Fernandes, M.A. (2019) Social anxiety enhances recognition of task-irrelevant threat words. Acta Psychologica,194, 69-76
  • Meade, M. E., Wammes, J. D., & Fernandes, M. A. (2019). Comparing the influence of doodling, drawing, and writing at encoding on memory. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale, 73(1), 28-36.
  • Wammes, J.D., Roberts, B.R., & Fernandes, M.A. (2018) Task preparation as a mnemonic: The benefits of drawing (and not drawing). Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 25, 2365–2372.
  • Meade, M. E., Wammes, J. D., & Fernandes, M. A. (2018). Drawing as an encoding tool: Memorial benefits in younger and older adults. Experimental Aging Research, 44(5), 369-396.
  • Fernandes, M. A., Wammes, J. D., & Meade, M. E. (2018). The surprisingly powerful influence of drawing on memory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(5), 302-308.
  • Lee, C., & Fernandes, M.A. (2017). Emotional Encoding Context Leads to Memory Bias in Individuals with High Anxiety. Brain Sciences. 8, 6; doi:10.3390/brainsci8010006
  • Wammes, J.D., Meade, M. & Fernandes, M.A. (2017) Creating a vivid recollection-based memory through drawing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition,
  • Meade. M.E., & Fernandes, M.A. (2017) Semantic and visual relatedness of distractors impairs episodic retrieval of pictures in a divided attention paradigm, Visual Cognition, 25:7-8, 825-840, DOI: 10.1080/13506285.2017.1344341
  • Wammes, J. D., Meade, M. E., & Fernandes, M. A (2017). Learning terms and definitions: Drawing and the role of elaborative encoding. Acta Psychologica, 179, 104-113.
  • Wammes, J.D., & Fernandes, M.A. (2017). The Residual Protective Effects of Enactment. Cognition, 184, 87-101.
  • Wammes, J.D., Good, T.J., & Fernandes, M.A. (2017). Autobiographical and Episodic Memory Deficits in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Brain & Cognition, 111, 112-126
  • Fernandes, M. A., Wammes, J. D., Priselac, S. & Moscovitch, M. (2016). Interfering with free recall of words: Detrimental effects of phonological competition. Neuropsychologia, 90, 59-71.
  • Wammes, J.D., Meade. M.E., & Fernandes, M.A. (2016). The Drawing Effect: Evidence for Reliable and Robust Memory Benefits. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69, 1752-1776.
  • Meade. M.E., & Fernandes, M.A. (2016). The role of semantically related distractors during encoding and retrieval of words in long-term memory. Memory, 24, 801-811.
  • Wammes, J.D., & Fernandes, M.A. (2016). Interfering with memory for faces: The cost of doing two things at once. Memory 24, 2, 184-203.


  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery grant
  • Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) operating grant
  • Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award grant

Editorial boards

  • Memory & Cognition (Associate Editor)
  • Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences 
  • Psychology & Aging
  • Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition


  • Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory (Psychology 461)
  • Case Studies in Neuropsychology (Psychology 461b)
  • Research Methods in Memory (Psychology 398)
  • Case Studies in in Neuroscience (Psychology 790)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory & Aging (Psychology 781)
  • Introduction of Physiological Psychology (Psychology 261)
  • Introduction to Cognition (Psychology 207)
  • Fundamentals of Neuroscience (Psychology 677A)
University of Waterloo

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