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Memory Consolidation: Synaptic tagging and mental schemas

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Abstract: This talk updates a theoretical approach whose aim is to translate neuropsychological ideas about the psychological and anatomical organization of memory into the neurobiological domain. It is suggested that episodic-like memory consists of both automatic and controlled components, with the medial temporal mediation of memory encoding including neurobiological mechanisms that are automatic or incidental. These ideas, in the cognitive and behavioural domain, are linked to neurophysiological ideas about cellular consolidation concerning synaptic potentiation. Ideas from psychology about mental schemas are considered in relation to the phenomenon of systems consolidation and how prior knowledge can alter the rate at which consolidation occurs. The possible implications of some of these ideas for education will be touched on at the end.

Biography: Richard Morris is Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh and an Adjunct Professor of the Norwegian Technical University in Trondheim (NTNO). He graduated in Natural Sciences at Cambridge in 1969 and completed a D.Phil at Sussex. In the 1970s he left academia to help build the Human Biology exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London and worked for the Science & Features Dept. of BBC Television. Following this he took up a Lectureship at St Andrews, and then later moved to Edinburgh. During his career, he has been seconded to work on a number of activities, including the Government’s Foresight Office and latterly to serve as Head of Neuroscience at the Wellcome Trust, 2007-2010. He has been active in public awareness of science activities throughout his career.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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