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NEW THEORIES OF MEMORY SYSTEMS AND NETWORKS

Abstract

Professor Adam Zeman. I trained in Medicine at Oxford, after a first degree in Philosophy and Psychology. I worked as a consultant neurologist in Edinburgh, from 1996, and, from 2005, in Exeter. My specialised clinical work is in cognitive and behavioural neurology, including neurological disorders of sleep. My research interests include amnesia associated with epilepsy and disorders of visual imagery. I have an active background interest in the science and philosophy of consciousness, writing an accessible introduction to the subject, intended for a general readership (Consciousness: a user's guide, Yale University Press, 2002). I have written an introduction to the brain, ‘A Portrait of the Brain’ (Yale, 2008), and recently edited ‘Epilepsy and Memory’ (OUP, 2012) with Marilyn Jones-Gotman and Narinder Kapur. I was Chairman of the British Neuropsychiatry Association from 2007–2011.

The underlying argument of this talk is simple: just as cognition can be divided into a number of domains (eg language, executive function), so several types of memory can de distinguished (eg episodic, semantic, procedural) and tested clinically; these domains depend on somewhat distinct neuronal systems or networks within the brain; several established subtypes of dementia are distinguished by their early involvement of one or other of these cognitive domains and neural systems. Thus recent research, particularly using resting state studies and graph theoretical descriptions of key neuronal networks, is helping to make sense of the taxonomy of cognition, memory and dementia. This talk aims to provide a clinically helpful guide to this fascinating but potentially confusing territory.

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