17th EMBL | EMBO Science and Society Conference on "The Past in the Present - The Making of Memories" 2016 Heidelberg

  • Conference Call
  • The Euro­pean Mol­e­c­u­lar Biol­ogy Lab­o­ra­tory (EMBL) will be hold­ing its 17th EMBL | EMBO Sci­ence and Soci­ety Multi-​disciplinary Con­fer­ence on Novem­ber 34, 2016 in Hei­del­berg, Ger­many. The organ­is­ers have enti­tled the con­fer­ence “The Past in the Present — The Mak­ing of Mem­o­ries” and are invit­ing you to participate.

    The scope of the meeting

    Mem­ory’ refers to a diverse set of mech­a­nisms by which liv­ing organ­isms retain infor­ma­tion and recon­struct past expe­ri­ences, usu­ally for present pur­poses. It is mem­ory that makes it pos­si­ble for the organ­ism to use past events to inform the unfold­ing of actions and expe­ri­ences. In the case of human beings, the abil­ity to con­jure up long-​gone but spe­cific episodes is both famil­iar and puz­zling, and is a key to the under­stand­ing of ‘per­sonal iden­tity’. We are often enticed to con­found mem­ory with knowl­edge. We remem­ber expe­ri­ences and events that are not hap­pen­ing now, so mem­ory dif­fers from per­cep­tion. We remem­ber events that really hap­pened, so mem­ory is unlike pure imag­i­na­tion. Yet, in prac­tice, remem­ber­ing, per­ceiv­ing, and imag­in­ing are inti­mately intertwined.

    Remem­ber­ing is often suf­fused with emo­tions. It is also essen­tial for much rea­son­ing and decision-​making, both indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive. And it is dynam­i­cally con­nected with sleep­ing and dream­ing. Some mem­o­ries are shaped by lan­guage, oth­ers by imagery. Mem­ory can go wrong in mun­dane and minor, or in dra­matic and dis­as­trous ways. Mem­ory tends to be selec­tive, and much for­get­ting is nor­mal and unavoid­able. At the same time, mem­ory for­ma­tion and capac­ity vary sub­stan­tially, not only over the lifes­pan of each indi­vid­ual, but also between individuals.

    To most peo­ple, the bio­log­i­cal study of mem­ory fol­lows two main lines of inquiry. The first ana­lyzes how nerves sig­nal to one another, and how such sig­nal­ing is not fixed, but is mod­u­lated by activ­ity and expe­ri­ence. The sec­ond focuses on brain sys­tems and cog­ni­tion. Human mem­ory is not uni­tary but takes dif­fer­ent forms in dif­fer­ent brain circuits.

    But, ‘mem­ory’ as a form of bio­log­i­cal inscrip­tion is not lim­ited to neural activ­i­ties and net­works, but can be seen as also embed­ded in mul­ti­ple ways at dif­fer­ent lev­els of bio­log­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion, be they mol­e­c­u­lar, cel­lu­lar, or organ­is­mal. And as a species-​specific trait of humans, our ‘cul­tures’ have always served as essen­tial col­lec­tive depos­i­to­ries of mem­ory. For instance, our cur­rent dig­i­tal­iza­tion tech­nolo­gies can be seen as merely the lat­est avatar of our abil­i­ties and inge­nu­ity to selec­tively store mem­o­ries externally.

    These are some of the themes on which we will focus at the time of the 17th EMBL/​EMBO Sci­ence and Soci­ety multi-​disciplinary con­fer­ence in Hei­del­berg in 2016.

    Fur­ther read­ings on the con­fer­ence topic can be found here.


    The main aim of these joint EMBL/​EMBO Sci­ence and Soci­ety meet­ings is to present impor­tant areas of life sci­ence research in a man­ner acces­si­ble to all, and to pro­mote reflec­tion on their impli­ca­tions. At the same time, they should facil­i­tate a broad dia­logue between biol­o­gists, behav­ioral and social sci­en­tists, stu­dents of all dis­ci­plines, and mem­bers of the public.

    Con­fer­ence Sessions

    • Mol­e­c­u­lar memory
    • Human mem­ory: ori­gins, mech­a­nisms and meanings
    • Mem­ory: from order, to reorder, to oblivion
    • The nor­mal, the off-​scale, and the extended human memory

    Speak­ers and Chairs


    • Sci­en­tific Organ­iser: Halldór Ste­fáns­son – EMBL Hei­del­berg, Germany
    • Con­fer­ence Organ­iser: Tim Nürn­berger – EMBL Hei­del­berg, Germany
    starting: ending: 04.11.2016 Location: , Category:


    Conference START 04.11.2016 END

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    Conference Facts

    Location , Address Meyerhofstrasse 1 Category Organiser More Info Conference Website

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