Paul Bourke Lecture 2017- ‘The time-travelling brain’: how we remember the past and imagine

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Presented by Associate Professor Muireann Irish. Co-presented by Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia with the School of Psychology in the Faculty of Science, and the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney.

Humans possess the extraordinary capacity to mentally travel back and forth in subjective time. This allows us to relive personally defining events from our past in exquisite detail, and to mentally project ourselves forwards in time to envisage the future. The relative ease with which we engage in these feats of mental time travel belies their inherent complexity.

Neurodegenerative disorders offer a compelling view of human memory, allowing us to glimpse how distinct neural networks break down in a systematic and coordinated fashion.

Professor Irish will present an overview of her work exploring autobiographical memory and future thinking across various dementia syndromes. She will highlight the cognitive mechanisms and neural networks that need to be functional to support these sophisticated cognitive processes and the devastating effects of losing these uniquely human functions.


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