Liz Chrastil I am an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Departent of Geography. I use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural correlates of human spatial memory.

I study human path integration, spatial memory, and large-scale navigation in complex environments.  I have conducted experiments using both fully immersive virtual reality and fMRI to understand how humans process self-motion information when navigating without landmarks.  I have found that brain regions such as the hippocampus, retrosplenial cortex, and parahippocampal cortex track important properties needed for navigating in these sparse environments. Applying those same techniques to landmark-based navigation, I have investigated how active and passive navigation affect learning a new environment.  In particular, I am interested in how proprioceptive input, vestibular information, decision-making, and attention contribute to learning different types of spatial knowledge.  In addition to the differential contribution of these aspects of spatial learning, I have found large individual differences in navigational abilities. My research examines the relationship between performance and brain function, looking at both brain structure and fMRI activation across individuals.

I received my PhD in 2012 from Brown University, working with Dr. William Warren and did my postdoctoral work at Boston University working with Dr. Chantal Stern. I received an MS in biology from Tufts University and a BA from Washington University in St. Louis.  When I’m not getting people lost in hedgemazes, I like to hike, dance, and travel.  I usually carry the map, since I’m a professional.

I am looking for graduate students to join the Spatial Neuroscience Lab at UCSB. Contact me if you are interested in applying.

Contact me:email