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Science of Memory: Concepts
Organizational Conference
September 22-24, 2005
IBM Palisades Conference Center
Palisades, NY


Beginning with a small workshop in La Jolla, CA in January 2004 (see http://www.jsmf.org/meetings/2004/jan-overview.htm ) the James S. McDonnell Foundation (JSMF) has held a series of conversations exploring what could be done to address one of the challenges implicitly posed at the workshop, i.e. what would an integrated Science of Memory look like? Recently, Roddy Roediger, Endel Tulving, Yadin Dudai, and Susan Fitzpatrick formed a small working group to develop a plan for proceeding with such a project. Our plan is to begin by examining fundamental concepts underlying the field of learning and memory, by bringing together leading thinkers in the field of memory research for a working conference to discuss and debate the field's critical concepts and to identify "open questions." Conference discussions will lay the framework for contributions to a multi-authored volume with the working title, for the first volume, of Science of Memory: Concepts. We very much hope that you will agree to join us in this exciting and unique intellectual endeavor.

The proposed book that will grow out of the conference is not intended to be yet another edited volume or multi-authored text, summarizing and cataloging what is known from experimental findings. Rather, we envision papers exploring why it is that particular concepts (e.g. encoding, consolidation, remembering, forgetting) are fundamentally important (or not) to memory researchers working with different experimental systems at different levels of analysis. The hope for an integrated Science of Memory is that researchers working at widely different levels with different methods, organisms and theories can find common ground. They can also begin to explore differences in viewpoints and ask why some concepts that are much studied at one level of analysis (e.g., forgetting, plasticity) are barely mentioned at other levels. For each identified concept we are inviting two or three authors to write brief position papers stating how the term is defined in their field, the broader meaning of the concept, and why it is, or is not, key to understanding memory as conceived by the writer. In addition to the position papers contributed by individuals representing divergent perspectives, someone will be tapped to write an integrative paper summarizing and discussing points of agreement and disagreement presented in the position papers. We have tentatively assigned people to topics and identified individuals as possible integrators, but at this stage we are simply asking for you to agree to participate. Details concerning specific assignments will be forthcoming. We seek people with broad outlooks and perspectives across the field. This process of exploration should also serve as a means for identifying open questions and research opportunities, especially those that cut across levels of analysis. A necessary and crucial aspect of the project will be an ongoing discussion among the writers for each concept before, during, and after the inaugural conference.

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