James S. McDonnell Foundation Workshop
An Integrated Science of Memory: Are We There Yet?
January 8-10, 2004
The neuroscience of learning and memory spans multiple scientific
fields and multiple levels of organization. Extant models of memory have
been lauded for bridging levels and integrating fields. The aim of this
conference is to assess the extent to which fields and levels have been
integrated in the cognitive neuroscience of memory, to identify gaps and
incongruities, and to envision strategies for filling those gaps and resolving
The workshop participants were chosen to represent domains of knowledge
ranging over diverse levels of organization (from behaving organism to
molecules), fields and techniques (anatomy, biochemistry, electrophysiology,
computational neuroscience, experimental psychology, history, molecular
biology, and philosophy are all represented) and degrees of involvement
in learning and memory research. The goal is to promote a frank and unbiased
discussion of how close we truly are to an integrated science of memory.
We also want to promote discussion of the evidence with which we can most
convincingly evaluate our progress towards that goal.
The workshop will involve phases of critical analysis and constructive
synthesis. The critical phase will be organized to identify gaps in our
interlevel understanding of memory; barriers inhibiting inter-field communication;
limitations of available techniques, protocols, and models; and points
of disagreement. The focus of this critical phase is on what we do not
know and what we have not yet tested. The second stage of the discussion
will focus on addressing these gaps in our understanding, identifying
loci for integrating disciplinary perspectives, and developing experimental
techniques and protocols in the effort to assess claims that have not
yet been satisfactorily tested.
Panel discussions will be organized roughly around levels of organization
and with the goal of representing multiple disciplinary perspectives on
that level. An electronic discussion forum will help to initiate pre-meeting
discussion and allow registered participants to actively shape the content
of the workshop. When participants have registered, they will receive
further information on participating in the electronic discussion forum,
including a logon and password.