Public Release: 

Remembering traumatic experiences in childhood

Reliability and limitations of memory

American Psychoanalytic Association

New York, NY--The American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) announces that liaison (AAAS Section on Psychology) Philip Holzman, Ph.D. will be heading a symposium on "Remembering Traumatic Experiences in Childhood: Reliability and Limitations of Memory" at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The symposium will be held on Sunday, February 16, 2003 from 8:30 am until 11:30 am at the Denver Convention Center, 700 14th Street, Denver, CO.

Research related to memory has important implications for many facets of society. Recent research findings in the fields of neuroscience and psychology provide experimental evidence that memory is more fluid and malleable than was once thought, and offer explanations for how memories, emotions and motivation play roles in everyday encounters.

Using behavioral, imaging, and psychophysical methods, researchers have shown that adults can be influenced to remember events falsely and are susceptible to memory illusions, thus calling into question the reliability of eyewitness testimony. The use of young children as witnesses within the court system is especially problematic not only because, like adults, their memories are vulnerable to emotional influences. In addition, the anatomical substrates of memory are still developing, the power of visualization and imagination are robust, and their sense of logic and causality are still immature.

This symposium will discuss recent research findings from the cellular to the systems level, describing the current state of memory research. Issues addressed will include a survey of the many natural errors of memory, brain imaging studies of recall processes, the developmental changes between early childhood (under three) and adulthood that result in the capacity to encode long-term memories, the role of trauma and conflict in recall, and the extent to which individual human memory can be used as an objective measure of events.

Finally, this symposium will consider the courtroom experiences of expert witnesses in trials that involve recall of events that occurred many years ago.



Philip S. Holzman, Ph.D. (617-855-2416,
APsaA member, Director, Psychology Research Laboratory, Mailman Research Center, McLean Hospital

Organizer and Chair:

Stephanie Bird, Ph.D. (617-253-8024, sjbird@MIT.EDU)
Special Assistant to the Vice President for Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Daniel Schacter, Ph.D. (617-435-3855,
Dept. of Psychology, Harvard University
"Neuroscience Research Findings Regarding Memory"

Michelle Leichtman, Ph.D., (603-862-3806,
Dept. of Psychology, University of New Hampshire
"Memory in Children"

Richard McNally, Ph.D., (617-435-3853,
Dept. of Psychology, Harvard University
"Remembering Trauma"

Joel Weinberger, Ph.D., (516-877-4816,
Derner Institute, Adelphi University
"Conscious and Unconscious Elements in Remembering"

Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., (949-824-3285; email
Dept of Psychology, University of Washington
"Eyewitness Testimony of Childhood Trauma"


Philip S. Holzman, Ph.D. (617- 855-2416,
Director, Psychology Research Laboratory, Mailman Research Center,
McLean Hospital

Melanie L. Leitner, Ph.D., (202- 224-3847, AAAS Congressional Scholar

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