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New perspectives on old puzzles – memory and the brain

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Memory is undeniably central to cognition. And yet, there is still a pervasive tendency to examine memory in isolation. By considering why memory exists, what it is for, how and where memories are built and if and when they change over time, I will argue that memory can only be properly understood if considered in the context of cognition as a whole. I will examine cognitive, neuropsychological and brain imaging data to explore this assertion.


Eleanor Maguire undertook her PhD at University College Dublin, Ireland, where she first became interested in the neural basis of memory while working with patients as a neuropsychologist. She is currently a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow and Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London, UK. In addition, she is an honorary neuropsychologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London. Eleanor heads the Memory and Space research laboratory at the Centre, where her team uses structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging in conjunction with the neuropsychological examination of patients in order to understand how memories are formed, represented and recollected by the human brain. She has won numerous prizes for outstanding contributions to science including the Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine for her study of London taxi drivers, the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award, and in 2011 she was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

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