More programs, more candles, more light.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Loading the player ...

SYMPOSIUM 6: Learning and Memory

Tom Carew, Meryl Comer, Roberto Malinow, Randy L. Buckner

May 24, 2011
42 minutes
Tom Carew, Meryl Comer, Roberto Malinow, Randy L. Buckner


Introduction from Chair - Tom Carew, PhD
We will address the general topic of brain mechanisms of learning and memory. We will discuss: (1) The basic function and remarkable plasticity of synapses in the brain, (2) Both human and animals studies that illustrate how different brain regions provide the substrate for different memory systems, and (3) The clinical features of Alzheimer’s disease and the possible interventions that are now being explored, with an emphasis on the critical importance of early detection and treatment.

Advocate Remarks - Meryl Comer

Synaptic Plasticity - Roberto Malinow, MD, PhD
Synapses, the points of communication between nerve cells in the brain, are plastic. That is, experience, by driving neural activity, can modify synapses, which can change communication through synapses. It is thought that memory is encoded by selective modification of synapses activated by experience. Many diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, target synapses early in the disease process. Many groups are making great progress in understanding the molecular basis of synaptic plasticity and how diseases perturb specific synaptic mechanisms.

Imaging Human Memory Circuits - Randy L. Buckner, PhD
The modern era of memory research began five decades ago when an extraordinary individual, known to the  community as H.M., lost his ability to form new memories. The brain damage causing amnesia in H.M. involved the hippocampus, a structure buried deep within the brain’s limbic system. Recent discoveries using brain imaging have
taught us a great deal about memory function and why Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic injury cause memory  loss.

The portion of this session given by David Holtzman is not included in this video.


Thomas J. Carew, PhD holds an endowed chair at the University of California, Irvine, where he is a Bren Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior. In 2008 he served as President of the Society for Neuroscience. In July, 2011, Dr. Carew will move to New York University where he will become the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. There are two major lines of research in his laboratory: one focuses on the temporal domains of memory, the other on the roles of growth factors in memory formation.

Meryl Comer is an Emmy-award winning reporter, producer, and business talk show host with over 30 years of experience in broadcast journalism. She was among the first women broadcasters in the early 80s to specialize in business news as it relates to public policy. Comer was named President of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative in November 2007. Winner of the 2005 Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award and the 2007 Proxmire Award, Ms. Comer has provided testimony before Congress and served on the 2008 Alzheimer’s Study Group, charged with presenting a National Strategic Plan to Congress in March 2009.

For eighteen years Comer moderated the nationally syndicated debate program “It’s Your Business”. She also co-anchored Nation’s Business Today for six years on ESPN, the Ten O’Clock News for Metromedia, Two’s Company for WMAR/CBS Affiliate and the Good Day Show on WCVB-TV in Boston.

Roberto Malinow, MD, PhD is the Shiley-Marcos Professor of Neurosciences at University of California, San Diego. His laboratory works to identify synaptic mechanisms that contribute to brain function and dysfunction. In particular, they examine synaptic properties that contribute to learning and memory, as well as Alzheimer’s Disease and Major Depression.

Randy L. Buckner, PhD is a Professor of Psychology and of Neuroscience at Havard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. His laboratory has developed and applied human neuroimaging tools to measure varied aspects of brain function, including variation in neurological and psychiatric illness. One focus has been large scale data collections and analysis as well as open source releases of that data.