Psych symposium examines memory, motivation

Apr 15th, 2010 | By | Category: April 15, 2010, Campus News, Issue

“Memory and Motivation: A Reappraisal of the False/Recovered Memory Debate” is the theme of the 58th Nebraska Symposium on Motivation at UNL. This internationally renowned annual gathering of scholars of psychology is April 22-23.

The symposium is free and open the public, but preregistration is encouraged. Registration and information about the symposium is available at

The field of psychology has yet to acquire a full understanding of the processes that have led to some adults suddenly remembering having been sexually abused while they were children. Are such experiences true recoveries of forgotten events, false memories induced via suggestions, or are some of these experiences true and others are false? Because the consequences of either a true recovery or a false memory are important for either healing or harming, a vigorous debate has arisen between psychologists who have emphasized one point of view or the other.

The Nebraska Symposium on Motivation will bring together leading international experts to present the latest relevant research on this debate. Eminent scholars will explore the conditions that can lead to both true recovery and false remembering. By providing a venue that will support the exchange of ideas, this symposium will expose areas of continuing differences in scientific opinion.

Some highlights of the program include:

• “Suppressing Unwanted Memories,” Michael Anderson, University of Cambridge.

• “A Theoretical Framework for Understanding Recovered Memory Experiences,” Chris Brewin, University College London.

• “Motivated Forgetting and Misremembering: Perspectives from Betrayal Trauma Theory,” Jennifer Freyd, University of Oregon.

• “Cognitive Mechanisms Underlying Recovered Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse,” Elke Geraerts, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

• “The Cognitive Neuroscience of True and False Memories,” Marcia Johnson, Yale University.

• “Searching for Repressed Memory,” Richard J. McNally, Harvard University.

The Nebraska Symposium on Motivation is the longest running symposium series in psychology. Each year it focuses on a different topic. Presenters write a chapter for the edited volume that is distributed to libraries around the world. The symposium is supported by gifts from UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Cora L. Friedline in memory of Harry K. Wolfe, her professor and founder of UNL’s psychology department.

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