Damian Pang may have discovered a new type of memory

The Penn LPS Online Certificate in Neuroscience let Pang gain additional knowledge and skills while still working full time as an airline pilot out of Hong Kong.

One of the great mysteries of science is the nature of consciousness. How do human beings perceive themselves and the world?

Damian Pang standing, smiling, in a suit.
Damian Pang, Penn LPS Online Certificate in Neuroscience graduate. (Image: OMNIA)

“Consciousness is one of the final frontiers of science that we still know so little about as human beings, which is ironic considering it’s our most immediate experience. It’s a subject that has fascinated me since my youth,” says Damian Pang, who completed the Penn College of Liberal and Professional Studies Online Certificate in Neuroscience in 2021 and recently co-authored an article in the journal Scientific Reports on unconscious memory.

Pang has an M.Sc. in psychology from the University of Liverpool but felt that he was lacking a strong foundation in neuroscience. The Penn LPS Online Certificate in Neuroscience was the ideal solution to gain additional knowledge and skills while still working full time as an airline pilot out of Hong Kong.

The LPS Online Certificate in Neuroscience is designed for busy adult learners and explores biological, psychological, and clinical approaches to understand the nervous system as the biological basis of behavior.

“Psychology taught me a lot about the behavioral aspects of the mind, but I was lacking a deeper understanding of the underlying biological processes. The Penn LPS certificate helped me to dive deep into neurobiology and understand how the brain works on a fundamental level. Through the certificate, I came to understand the theories of cognitive neuroscience that I’d been engaging with for over a decade in a more profound and encompassing way, which really helped me as I conducted research on consciousness,” he says.

Pang partnered with University of Liverpool professor Stamatis Elntib to complete basic research probing whether information stored in the brain without awareness can be consciously accessed. They conducted experiments using a technique called visual masking. Pang explains, “With visual masking, you show a participant an image for a very short amount of time and then, immediately distract them with a different image. This reduces the way they see the first image to the point where, if done correctly, they will not perceive the first image at all.”

We found that if you repeat the imagery within a short timeframe, people actually start seeing it very clearly. That means the image doesn’t get erased, and if it doesn’t get erased, it must be stored somewhere in order to influence your subsequent experience. If our interpretations are correct, this would suggest a new type of memory.”

This story is by Katelyn Silva. Read more at OMNIA.