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World Science Festival Salon: Manipulating Memory

Saturday, June 4, 2011
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

We are our memories, but can they be tampered with? Erased? What are the ethical considerations? Whether enhancing memory for an aging population or inhibiting memories that prevent function, new drugs bring new possibilities for abuse and misuse. Even in their most welcome applications, these drugs raise profound questions about the relationship between the subjective experience of memory and the true nature of what we remember.

Some of the advanced topics which the conversation may explore include: Latest progress in memory research, including the enzyme PKMzeta and memory “erasure,” infusion of the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin, problems of animal models in memory research, and therapeutic implications inherent in these discoveries.

World Science Festival Salons are an opportunity for in-depth conversations with world-leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s flagship public programs at a level appropriate for graduate students, postdocs, faculty and particularly well-informed members of the general public.

Related flagship program:
The Unbearable Lightness of Memory

This program is a part of The Big, the Small, and the Complex, a Series made possible with the support of The Kavli Prize.


Julie BursteinAuthor, Radio Producer

Julie Burstein is a Peabody Award-winning radio producer, best-selling author, and public speaker who has spent her working life in conversation with highly creative people. She is the co-author of Spark: How Creativity Works.

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Cristina AlberiniNeuroscientist

Cristina Alberini is a professor of neural science at New York University whose research focuses on the identification and characterization of the biological mechanisms that accompany long-term memory formation, storage …

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Adam KolberProfessor of Law

Adam Kolber is a professor at Brooklyn Law School where he writes and teaches in the areas of criminal law, health law, bioethics, and neuroethics. He created the Neuroethics & Law Blog in 2005 and taught the first law school course devoted to law and neuroscience in 2006.

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Joseph LeDouxNeuroscientist, Author, Musician

Joseph LeDoux is a professor of neural science at NYU and director of the Emotional Brain Institute involving NYU and the Nathan Kline Institute. LeDoux’s research is focused on the brain mechanisms of emotion and memory. He is the author of The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life.

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Lynn NadelPsychologist

Focused on the functions of the hippocampus in memory and spatial cognition, Lynn Nadel’s work has led to significant contributions in the study of stress and memory, sleep and memory, memory reconsolidation, and mental retardation observed in Down syndrome.

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Elizabeth PhelpsCognitive Neuroscientist

Elizabeth A. Phelps is the director of the Phelps Lab at the New York University Center for Neuroeconomics. Her laboratory has earned widespread acclaim for its groundbreaking research on how the human brain processes emotion, particularly as it relates to learning, memory, and decision-making.

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Todd SacktorNeurologist, Neuroscientist

A 1978 Harvard graduate, Todd Sacktor completed his M.D. at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and his neurology residency at Columbia University, where he began studying the role of the enzyme protein kinase C (PKC) in the short-term memory of Aplysia (marine snails).

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