17 March 2012

Connecting philosophy and psychology on episodic memory

When: June 7-8
Where: Université Pierre Mendès, Grenoble
Deadline for submissions: April 16

Episodic memory is the brain and mind capacity to remember past experienced events as such, that is to relive or reexperience them as a result of a mental time travel towards one’s subjective past. It sharply contrasts with other forms of memory, such as procedural memory (i.e. memory proper to practical skills) but also, within declarative and propositional memory, with semantic memory (i.e. knowledge of facts). The conference will focus on the very memory episodicity feature and address a wide range of questions it has given rise to through psychological and philosophical approaches. Here are listed (in a non exclusive way) some pivotal questions.

The term "episodicity" covers different things in the literature. It sometimes designates a type of memory information, whose distinctive feature is the richness of its contextual component and its sensory details, but also a certain kind of consciousness - so-called "autonoetic consciousness" (Tulving) - that accompanies certain memory retrievals, or an entire, distinct memory system, that is, a distinct set of cognitive and neural components that carry out specific functions. While those characterizations are not incompatible with each other, they suggest different ways to conceive of the episodicity feature and allow for competing accounts of episodicity - for instance, Tulving’s structuralism and Jacoby’s attributionalism for subjective awareness, or Hoerl and McCormack’s phenomenologism and Perner’s metarepresentationalism for the nature of episodic information.

i) Thus, a first and straightforward question is to determine what the episodicity of memory consists in and where it is to be located. This first question cannot be answered without adressing further important and related problems. 
ii) A central topic concerns the subjectivity of episodic memory. How should we account for the subjective flavor or autonoetic consciousness of episodic memory? Moreover, which concept of the self - representational or not, embodied or not - is included in such a memory? And what is the relation between episodicity and autobiography?
iii) Time surely offers a third intriguing topic, which raises the question of mental time travel and subjective (or perceived) time, as well as the question of temporal navigation and the temporal frames of reference it requires.
iv) The conference aims also to give voice to the increasing acknowledgement of the role of spatiality in episodic memory; for instance, by questioning how, and under which form (egocentric or allocentric? dynamic or static?) spatiality determines episodic encoding, or how it contributes to the subjective flavor of remembering.
v) A fifth axis concerns the question of the specific informational content of episodic memories. Among other things, the question of the singularity of the objects of memory, of the possible reflexive (metarepresentational) structure of the episodic content, of its imagistic nature will be dealt with.
vi) Last but not least, attention will be paid to the differences and shared features of semantic and episodic memory, that is to the relation of their respective natures - touching in this way on the functionalism/structuralism debate - and on the functional relations between them.

Psychological and philosophical interest on these topics has seen very significant growth for about four decades. A leading conviction of the organizers of the conference is that, despite differences in what they lay stress on (experimental investigation for psychology, conceptual analysis for philosophy), psychologists and philosophers widely share the problems they address, the way they address them and the concepts they use to do so. Against the background of those common features, the specificity of each discipline has already turned out to be very fruitful for the other, much more than an impediment to their cooperation. The conference will bring together researchers of a wide array of approaches - from conceptual analysis to anatomical inquiry - and give them the opportunity to confront and enrich their different works on the fascinating topic of memory episodicity.

We invite participants to submit a poster to the Episodic Memory 2012 conference. The conference will focus on the underlying mechanisms and the core concepts of the phenomenon in the original perspective of connecting philosophical and psychological approaches. Among other things, the following questions will be adressed from both perspectives: the self-knowledge and the self-concept, the relation of episodicity with autobiographical memory, its link with spatial processing, the perception of time and the nature of re-experiencing. Posters can restrict themselves to the philosophical perspective or the psychological one.


Researchers interested in presenting a poster should prepare an overview of their proposed poster in the form of a single word page no more than 500 words in length 

Deadline for poster submissions: April 16
Notification of Acceptance: April 30

Please, send your poster proposals or any question about the poster session directly to the following addresses:

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