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Alexa Tompary, PhD

Alexa Tompary, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Office: Stratton Hall, Room 306

Additional Sites:

Memory and Concepts Lab
Google Scholar


  • PhD, Psychology, New York University, 2017
  • MA, Psychology, New York University, 2014
  • BA, Psychology, University of Chicago, 2010

Curriculum Vitae:

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Research Interests:

  • Neural bases of episodic memory and conceptual knowledge
  • Systems memory consolidation theories
  • Functional neuroimaging
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation


Alexa Tompary is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. She earned her PhD in psychology at New York University and completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Tompary has received grants from the National Institutes of Health and published in journals including Neuron, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Journal of Neuroscience, and PNAS.

Dr. Tompary is the head of the Memory and Concepts (MAC) lab, which uses cognitive neuroscience approaches to study the relationship between episodic memory and concept knowledge. She additionally investigates how these forms of information interact and combine as a function of their neural bases. The lab uses functional neuroimaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to tackle questions such as how the brain stores transforms long-term memories to create new knowledge, how prior knowledge can shape memories for new experiences, and how our conceptual knowledge can be updated by new events. The interplay between episodic memory and concept knowledge shapes the information that we draw on when we make decisions, creatively solve problems, and plan for the future – higher-level cognitive processes that the lab plans to interrogate through the lens of memory interactions in upcoming work.

Dr. Tompary teaches an undergraduate elective course, PSY365: Memory, and a graduate-level course, PSY512: Cognitive Psychology. In both courses, she aims to connect basic topics in memory and cognition with clinical applications, consequences for classroom learning, and occurrences in everyday life.

Selected Publications:

  • Zeng T., Tompary A., Schapiro A.C., Thompson-Schill S.L. (2021) Tracking the relation between gist and item memory over the course of long-term memory consolidation. eLife.
  • Tompary A. & Thompson-Schill S.L. (2021) Semantic influences on memory distortions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 150, 1800-1824.
  • Tompary A., Zhou W., Davachi L. (2020) Schematic memories develop quickly, but are not expressed unless necessary. Scientific Reports 10, 16968.
  • Goldfarb E.V., Tompary A., Davachi L., Phelps E.A. (2018) Acute stress throughout the memory cycle: Diverging effects on associative and item memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 148, 13-19.
  • Tompary A., Al-Aidroos N., Turk-Browne N.B. (2018) Attending to what and where: Background connectivity integrates category-based and spatial attention. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 14, 1281-97.
  • Tompary A. & Davachi L. (2017) Consolidation promotes the emergence of representational overlap in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex. Neuron 96, 228-241.e5.
  • Murty V.P., Tompary A., Adcock R.A., Davachi L. (2017) Selectivity in post-encoding connectivity with high-level visual cortex is associated with reward-motivated memory. Journal of Neuroscience 37, 537-45.
  • Danker J., Tompary A., Davachi L. (2017) Trial-by-trial hippocampal encoding activation predicts the fidelity of cortical reinstatement during subsequent retrieval. Cerebral Cortex 7, 3515-3524.
  • Córdova N.I., Tompary A., Turk-Browne N.B. (2016) Attentional modulation of background connectivity between ventral visual cortex and the medial temporal lobe. Neurobiology of Learning & Memory 134 Pt A, 155-22.
  • Tompary A., Duncan K., Davachi L. (2016) High-resolution investigation of memory-specific reinstatement in the hippocampus and perirhinal cortex. Hippocampus 26, 995-1007.
  • Tompary A.*, Duncan K.*, Davachi L. (2015) Consolidation of associative and item memory is related to post-encoding functional connectivity between the ventral tegmental area and different medial temporal lobe subregions during an unrelated task. Journal of Neuroscience 35, 7326-31.
  • Duncan K.*, Tompary A.*, Davachi L. (2014) Associative encoding and retrieval are predicted by functional connectivity in distinct hippocampal area CA1 pathways. Journal of Neuroscience 34, 11188–98.