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James S. McDonnell Foundation
Science of Memory: Concepts
Organizational Conference
September 22-24, 2005
IBM Palisades, New York

Thank you for joining with us in the exciting project exploring the fundamental concepts that underlie and, we hope, unite different research traditions representing the field of learning and memory. The organizational conference includes scientists from many different scientific traditions, all of which study learning and memory: neurobiology, behavioral neuroscience, computational neuroscience, ethology and evolutionary psychology, comparative psychology, animal learning and cognition, human cognitive psychology, and cognitive/systems neuroscience, to mention most of the prominent approaches included. The conference will launch the project by presenting a framework for how we as a group will carry out this ambitious project by addressing a set of core concepts that will be discussed and elucidated from our various vantages. Eventually our work will result in an edited volume titled, Science of Memory: Concepts.

As was described in the invitational email, for each concept there will be a small number of position papers reflecting the author’s particular point of view and one paper taking a more integrative approach across the different levels represented in the position papers. There will be generous time for discussing the format and content of the papers during the September meeting. In general, we envision the position and integrative papers as brief (1500 or so words) with a limited number of references and figures. A copy of the introductory chapter written by Yadin Dudai, Roddy Roediger, and Endel Tulving will be distributed prior to the September meeting. A closing paper authored by Susan Fitzpatrick will end the volume.

During the afternoon of Friday, September 23rd time will be allotted for the concept teams to meet in small groups. During these small group sessions time is available for each of you to make a short presentation (10-15 minutes) to the others writing on the same concept. We suggest using your time for describing your understanding of the concept within your experimental tradition. The integrator for each concept will serve as rapporteur, preparing and presenting a summary of the concept group’s deliberation during the entire group discussion on the morning of September 24th. Please bear in mind that attempting to reach a consensus is not the goal of the small group sessions. Rather, we see this time as an opportunity to clarify the differences and possible areas of overlap among the individual points of view. Guidelines for the concept discussion and the summary report will be provided at the beginning of the conference.

In meetings and discussions held during the past year, the organizers of the Science of Memory: Concepts project discussed and debated which concepts should comprise the volume and the order with which they appear. We recognize that different groups of four individuals would identify any number of differently named sets of concepts. We also admit that any linear order will fall short of capturing the rich, multidimensional relationships among the different concepts and we have ordered the concepts along a temporal dimension. We assure you, no decisions were made hastily or arbitrarily. We recognize that each of you could easily fit a number of different concepts. Furthermore, we anticipate that there will be more than one individual who is sure that he or she has been assigned to the wrong concept. We had our reasons for assigning you to the concept we did. The general principle followed was that we wanted to achieve a diversity of viewpoints on particular concepts. We hope you will agree to speak and write on your assigned concept even if it is not what might logically be your first choice.

We also selected one person to serve the role as Integrator for each group. As noted above, that person’s role will be to provide an integration and reconciliation (if feasible) of various approaches to the particular concept. We see this as a critical task in each group. Again, we had our reasons for assigning people to this role and we hope that our selections will meet with approval.

We very much look forward to seeing you in September. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any assistance prior to the meeting. Look for the logistical information and the meeting web page address in the next email.

With out very best wishes,
Yadin Dudai
Susan Fitzpatrick
Roddy Roediger
Endel Tulving


Thursday, Sept. 22 –
Afternoon arrival and check-in (Participants will receive a meeting packet at check-in; please request yours if for some reason it is not given to you.)
6 – 10 PM Reception and dinner. There will be brief welcoming remarks during the dinner.
Friday, Sept. 23 –
9:15 – 9:30 AM Meeting announcements and a presentation of a brief background on Science of Memory: Concepts - Susan Fitzpatrick
9:30 – 10: 00 AM The what, why and how of a Science of Memory: Concepts - Yadin Dudai
10:00 – 10:30 AM Break
10:30– 11:00 AM Group discussion moderated by Yadin Dudai
11:00 – 11:30 AM Meeting Structure and Goals/ Project and Structure Goals - Roddy Roediger
12:00 – 1: 30 PM Lunch
1:45 – 2:00 PM Re-convene in conference room – quick review of plans for afternoon breakout sessions – Roddy Roediger
2:00 – 3:00 PM “Within Concepts” group discussions
3:00 – 3:15 PM Break  
3:30 – 4:30 PM “Across Concepts” group discussions
6 – 10 PM Reception and Dinner
Saturday, Sept 24 –
8:30 – 8:45 AM Call to order – Susan Fitzpatrick
8:45 – 1:00 PM Group presentations, moderator Roddy Roediger – The integrator for each concept group is allotted 10 minutes for a summary presentation of the Friday afternoon group discussions relevant to each concept. The scheduled time includes a short break and general discussion.
1:15 PM Lunch, check-out, and departures.
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