Memory – 2005-2006 Annual Theme

2005-2006 theme

Suzanne Corkin

corkin poster finalProfessor Emerita, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Permanent Present Tense

Tuesday, April 22, 2014       
Stern Center, Great Room, 7 p.m.

Relying on 55 years of behavioral and imaging studies, Corkin shows that short-term, long-term, declarative, and nondeclarative capacities of memory rely on different brain circuits.  The case of Henry Molaison, who at age 27 underwent an experimental brain operation that left him in dense amnesia with a preserved intellect, will be discussed in some detail.  A book sale and signing will follow.

This event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the Departments of Biology and Psychology.

Corkin PicBiography (provided by the speaker)

Suzanne Corkin is professor of neuroscience, emerita in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. She arrived at MIT in the fall of 1964, having just received her Ph.D. in comparative and physiological psychology from McGill University. Her first accomplishment was establishing the Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory at the newly opened Clinical Research Center. She joined the faculty in 1981 as an associate professor. Corkin’s research over the last 48 years has focused on the study of patients with neurological disease, with the goal of linking specific cognitive  processes, particularly memory, to discrete Read more

Elizabeth Loftus – "Joseph Priestley Award"


Distinguished Professor,
University of California, Irvine

What’s the Matter with Memory?

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.

Sponsored by the Department of Psychology.

People have been led to remember non-existent events from the recent past as well as non-existent events from their childhood. They can be led to falsely believe that they had experiences that would have been highly traumatic had they actually happened. False beliefs have consequences for people, affecting later thoughts, intentions, and behaviors.

Biography (provided by the speaker)

Elizabeth Loftus, distinguished professor at the University of California, Irvine, holds positions in the Departments of Psychology & Social Behavior, and Criminology, Law & Society.  She is also a professor of law.  She has a faculty appointment in the Department of Cognitive Sciences and is a fellow of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.   Formerly, she was professor of psychology and adjunct professor of law at the University of Washington, Seattle, where she taught for 29 years.    She received her Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University. Since then, she has published 22 books and over 450 scientific articles. Her 4th book, Eyewitness Testimony, won a National Media Award (Distinguished Contribution) from Read more

Erika Doss

University of Notre DameErica Doss poster

Memorial Mania: Issues of Commemoration and Affect in Contemporary America

Thursday, March 20, 2008
7:00 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

Concentrating especially on recent 9/11 memorials, war memorials, and on issues such as fear, terror, security, and tribute. This program considers how “memorial mania” has altered the style and substance of America’s contemporary public sphere and assumptions of national identity.

Issue in Context

Since the Revolutionary War, the building of American nationhood has involved the design and presentation of war memorials. The memorials that have been built to commemorate the sacrifices of soldiers from the Civil War to the Vietnam War have taken on new cultural orientations and styles. In the wake of 9/11, there has been great passion for memorial design, and heated disagreements about how to best honor those lost in the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Arguments about how to make use of the land that once held the great monuments of New York’s financial district represent a new generation of memorial mania. Professor Doss will address the influences of historical perspectives on the planning, organizing, and constructing of memorials. She will also discuss how fear, terror, security, and the explosion of Read more

The Making of Memories

Thursday, March 27, 2006
Common Hour
The Making of Memories
Weiss Center, Rubendall Recital Hall, 12:00 p.m.

Issue in Context
Memory is an essential quality of being human. Our individual and collective sense of identity depends on the workings of memory. Until recently, memory was studied largely as an aspect of philosophy. Modern technological advances make it possible for neurologists to examine memory’s biological operations, including long-term potentiation, (LTP). LTP occurs when one nerve cell stimulated by another, remembers the stimulation, and forms a cellular bond. This transformation of the nerve cell is essential to the storage of memory. The brain contains over 100 billion nerve cells, each with thousands of synapses. Whenever a memory is formed, some of these synapses change. As they are continually stimulated their surfaces are permanently altered forming connection points with other nerve cells. These contact points are the foundation for the contact and chemical alterations in the nerve cells that serve as memory units.

Cultural memory is a facet of every society. It is passed down collectively through generations, preserved in forms such as theatre, arts, literature, music and ritual. As an illustration of cultural memory, this event presents music and text from a Read more

The Way We Were? 'Memories' of Traditional Marriage and Family Life

February 23, 2006
The Way We Were? ‘Memories’ of Traditional Marriage and Family Life
Weiss Center, Rubendall Recital Hall, 12:00 p.m.
The Way We Were

Issue in Context
During the 19th century, the age of sexual consent in some states was as low as nine or ten; alcoholism and drug abuse were more rampant than at present. During the “family-oriented” 1950s, teenage childbearing peaked. These facts belie the popular belief that traditional values of marriage and family thrived before recent times.

Through her research, Stephanie Coontz has revealed that the US is undergoing a “distressful and disorganizing social and economic transformation made all the more difficult by our romanticizing of a past that never existed as we choose to remember it. The so-called traditional family is no longer the norm and should not be made the ideal. Single-parent families cannot be considered abnormal anymore, and divorce is not an excuse for problematic children.”

Coontz believes that the ills of society most often receive the blame for the breakdown of the “traditional” marriage. She argues that the strengths of more diverse forms of family life must be recognized in order to solve these ills.

About the Speaker
Stephanie Coontz is currently a professor Read more

Memory, Counter-Memory, and the End of the Monument after 9/11

Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Memory, Counter-Memory, and the End of the Monument after 9/11
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.


Issue in Context
Constructing monuments to commemorate tragedies such as the Holocaust and 9/11 can trigger intense debate as designers strive to represent the collective memory of a grieving nation. Much of the controversy stems from the aesthetic and political dilemmas involved in creating national monuments. The United States and Germany recently faced such predicaments while constructing the World Trade Center Site Memorial in New York City and the National Holocaust Memorial in Berlin . The memorials in both countries strive to convey the full spectrum of citizens’ sentiments, but each monument has received criticism for falling short. Since historical events are open to so many interpretations, one wonders if it is possible to construct a monument that captures the full range of emotion and memory.

About the Speaker
James E. Young is a renowned scholar of Holocaust remembrance and an internationally recognized expert on memorial architecture. He was appointed to the selection committees for both the National Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the World Trade Center Site Memorial in New York City .

Young has written numerous articles concerning Read more

Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief

Thursday , October 6, 2005
Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief
Stern Center, Great Room 7:00 P.M.

Brain Science

Issue in Context
Many minds of the 19th century viewed religion as mere superstition which an increasingly enlightened society would soon discard. Yet today, in the most technologically and scientifically enlightened age, religious observance remains strong in the United States: church affiliation has never been higher, and more than seventy percent of the American population claims to believe in God.
Dr. Andrew Newberg, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, examines whether or not religion is the product of biology, a kind of neurological illusion. Do our brains function in such a way as to make God seem not only real, but reachable?
Together with the late Dr. Eugene d’Aquili, Dr. Newberg conducted research using advanced imaging techniques to gain a further understanding of what occurs inside the brains of Buddhist and Franciscan nuns at prayer. What they discovered was that intensely focused spiritual contemplation triggers an alteration in the activity of the brain that leads one to perceive transcendent religious experiences as solid, tangible reality. This discovery suggests that God seems to be hard-wired into Read more