Lili Sahakyan's directory photo.

Lili Sahakyan


Primary Affiliation

Mechanisms of Cognitive Control


Status Affiliate Faculty

Home Department of Psychology



Address 2051 Beckman Institute, 405 North Mathews Avenue

  • Biography

    Lily Sahakyan is a professor in the Department of Psychology. She is originally from Armenia. She came to the United States in 1995 as an undergraduate, after winning a competitive international exchange program. Her work on intentional forgetting established the importance of mental context in memory retrieval and forgetting, and has transpired the development of novel paradigms and approaches for assessment of different aspects of memory.


    • Ph.D., cognitive psychology, Florida State University, 2002

    • M.A., counseling psychology, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, 1997

    • B.A., psychology, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, 1995

  • Honors
    • 2021: Arnold O. Beckman Award, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    • 2019: Distinguished Alumni Award, Florida State University 

    • 2014: Fellow of American Psychological Society

    • 2014: Mentorship Award, U.S. Department of Defense

    • 2002: Outstanding Dissertation Award, Florida State University

  • Research

    Research areas:

    • Cognitive psychology

    • Cognitive neuroscience

    Research interests:

    • Human long-term memory

    • Intentional forgetting

    • Memory in populations at risk for psychopathology.

    Professor Sahakyan’s research involves Intentional forgetting, memory control, role of context in organizing and retrieval of memories, and memory in populations with vulnerability to mental illness. Research in the Sahakyan lab evolves around their fundamental interest in how context shapes and organizes episodic memories, and how context influences retrieval of memories. They use a variety of methods, including behavioral experiments, studies involving fMRI / EEG, as well as eye tracking studies to arrive at a deeper understanding of the role of context in memory. ?Their research is divided into 5 themes: forgetting, contextual drift, individual differences, eye-movements, and neural activity.

  • 2022

    • Ding, H., Whitlock, J., and Sahakyan, L. (2022). Can intentional forgetting reduce the cross-race effect in memory? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 29, 1387-1396.
    • Hubbard, R. J., and Sahakyan, L. (2022).Differential recruitment of inhibitory control by directed forgetting and thought substitution. Journal of Neuroscience.
    • Pfarr, J.K., Meller, T., Evermann, U., Sahakyan, L., Kwapil, T.R. and Nenadic, I. (2022). Trait schizotypy and the psychosis prodrome: Current standard assessment of extended psychosis spectrum phenotypes. Schizophrenia Research.
    • Sahakyan, L. (2022). Current Perspectives on Directed Forgetting. In A. Wagner and M. Kahana (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Human Memory.
    • Whitlock, J., Chiu, Y., and Sahakyan, L. (2022). Directed forgetting in associative memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 48, 29-42.


    • Chiu*, Y., Wang, T., Beck, D., Lewis-Peacock, J., and Sahakyan, L. (2021). Separation of Item and Context in Item-Method Directed Forgetting. NeuroImage, 235, 117983.
    • Hubbard, R. J., and Sahakyan, L. (2021). Separable neural mechanisms support intentional forgetting and thought substitution. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior, 142, 317–331.
    • Whitlock*, J., Y., Chiu*, Y., and Sahakyan, L. (2021). Directed Forgetting in Associative Memory: Dissociating Item and Associative Impairment. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.


    • Sahakyan, L., Meller, T., Evermann, U., Schmitt, S., Pfarr, J., Sommer, J., Kwapil, T. R., Nenadic, I., (2020). Anterior vs. posterior hippocampal subfields in an extended psychosis phenotype of multidimensional schizotypy in a nonclinical sample. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 47, 207-218.
    • Whitlock*, J., Lo*, Y., Chiu*, Y., and Sahakyan, L. (2020). Eye movement analyses of strong and weak memories and goal-driven forgetting. Cognition, 204, 104391.


    • Griffin, M., Benjamin, A., Sahakyan, L., and Stanley, S. (2019). A matter of priorities: high working memory enables superior value-directed remembering. Journal of Memory and Language, 108,
    • Sahakyan, L. (2019). List-strength effects in older adults in recognition and free recall. Memory & Cognition, 47, 764-778. Special Issue to commemorate the 50 th anniversary of Atkinson and Shiffrin model.
    • Sahakyan, L. and Kwapil, T. R. (2019). Hits and false alarms in recognition memory show differential impairment in positive and negative schizotypy. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 128, 633-643.
    • Sahakyan, L., Kwapil, T. R., and Jiang, L. (2019). Differential Impairment of Positive and Negative Schizotypy in List-Method and Item-Method Directed Forgetting. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 149, 368-381.
    • Sahakyan, L., Kwapil, T. R., Lo, Y., and Jiang, L. (2019). Examination of Relational Memory in Multidimensional Schizotypy. Schizophrenia Research, 211, 36-43.


    • Akan, M. and Sahakyan, L. (2018) Repeated failures to obtain selective directed forgetting in lab and online samples and variations in stimuli. Memory, 26, 294-305.
    • Sahakyan, L. and Kwapil, T. R. (2018). Episodic memory retrieval is impaired in negative schizotypy under fast response deadline. Schizophrenia Research, 201, 167-171.
    • Sahakyan, L. and Kwapil, T. R. (2018). Moving beyond summary scores: Decomposing free recall performance to understand episodic memory deficits in schizotypy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 147, 1919-1930.
    • Sahakyan, L. and Malmberg, K. (2018). Divided attention during encoding causes separate memory traces to be encoded for repeated events. Journal of Memory and Language, 101, 153-161.