The two conferences ("Perturbation" and "Representation" of memory) have clearly defined and parallel integrative themes and objectives, each leading to a logical culmination of the Neural Mechanisms of Learning and Memory series. The first conference focuses on the experimental analysis of amnesia across species, including human disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
This focus on human amnesia is a new, but appropriate theme at this stage in the Series, which examines possible clinical applications of work reviewed in previous Euroconferences, as well as the added theoretical inspiration that derives from the study of patients. The cross-species analysis in this first meeting is essential for investigating the utility of animal models of amnesia, in particular, of transgenic manipulations, which seek to reproduce some of the key neuropathology of Alzheimer's disease.
Technological significance derives from the use of such animals to assess the efficacy of forthcoming neuroprotective and neuropharmacological modes of treatment. The second meeting (on "Representation") focuses on the various ways in which different forms of memory are represented in the brain, using computational, cellular, molecular, neuropsychological and neuropsychological approaches in different model systems to unravel the mechanistic substrate of the memory trace. Particular emphasis will be placed in this second conference on relating more abstract and correlatives approaches to understanding memory (rather than the interventionist strategy inherent in the study of memory perturbation), in order to provide synergy between level of representation and analysis.
We aim to relate levels of analysis such as computational modelling with a comparative analysis of the patterning of activity in the brain based on imaging and neuropsychological investigations of ensembles of neurons storing memory in animals and humans. The utility of 'simple' preparations for investigating memory representation will also be explored, particularly in invertebrates in which the basic anatomical connectivity of the underlying neuronal systems is relatively well understood. It is logical to place the "Representation" topic at the end of the series as it assimilates evidence from several of the previous conferences, including "Perturbation".