How are memories formed, stored, and accessed? This question has been central to psychology and neuroscience since their founding. In this class, we will first review psychological and neurobiological views of memory. We will then explore how memory as a dynamic process might be extended to biological—and even non-biological—systems outside the brain. We will survey cultural, social, and linguistic concepts of memory. Finally, we will compare and contrast two compelling—but very different and competing—views of memory: one in which memories are created from the ground up through a process of instruction; and another in which memories arise from selective interactions between an unlabeled world and vast repertoires of pre-defined components, i.e., neurons and neuronal networks. Can such a selection-based view of memory be extended well beyond nervous systems into non-biological domains of human interaction?
This is a survey course in which we’ll be exploring the concept of memory in the broadest of terms. As such, it is intended for both students thinking of concentrating in neuroscience and those outside of the sciences wishing to explore the relevance of an important focus of neuroscience to their own areas of interest.