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ABACLive Cambridge Center Series Presents: David C. Palmer, PhD: A Behavioral Interpretation of Memory 



General Information

Title: ABACLive Cambridge Center Series Presents: A Behavioral Interpretation of Memory 

Presented By: David C. Palmer, Ph.D.

Dates:  Wednesday, 5/13/2020

Time: 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm eastern (New York)

Recording Available: 5/14/20 - 5/23/20 at 11:59 pm eastern (New York)


    This presentation will be primarily a conceptual talk about how memory can be understood from a behavior analytic perspective. A brief survey of the physiological bases of memory will be offered to illustrate that the fundamental “unit” of memory is a change in synaptic connectivity, not the storage of events. Next will be an analysis of the two major kinds of mnemonic phenomena: memory as the endurance of stimulus control and memory as problem-solving. The former rests entirely on principles of learning, the latter on acquired strategic behavior. There are two main classes of strategic behavior: acquisition strategies, deployed at the time of original learning, and recall strategies, deployed at the time of recall. The two work together to permit effective responding to novel questions about the past. Most such strategic mnemonic behavior is acquired incidentally, but exceptions point the way to possible therapeutic applications. A surprising implication of this analysis is that memory is current behavior under the control of current stimuli, not past behavior retrieved from a memory storehouse.

    Learning Objectives

    1) Participants will be able to identify what is "stored" in the brain when we speak of memory.
    2) Participants will be able to discriminate between memory as a stimulus control phenomenon and memory as a problem-solving phenomenon.
    3) Participants will be able to discriminate between acquisition strategies and recall strategies.

    Presenter Bio and Disclosure Statement

    With undergraduate degrees in geology and English, Dave Palmer knew nothing about behaviorism until he stumbled on Skinner’s Walden Two. He was electrified and soon became a public nuisance trying to persuade all-and-sundry of the merits of a behavioral interpretation of human problems.  After a decade of fruitlessly attempting to start an experimental community, he turned to graduate school.  He studied inter-response times and conditioned reinforcement in pigeons at the University of Massachusetts under John Donahoe in the early 1980s.  Upon graduation, he took a job teaching statistics and behavior analysis at Smith College, where he remains today. His interests in behavior analysis are broad, but his main contributions have all been attempts to extend Skinner's interpretive accounts of human behavior, particularly in the domains of language, memory, problem solving, and private events.  Together with John Donahoe, he authored the text, Learning and Complex Behavior, which attempts to offer a comprehensive biobehavioral account of such phenomena.  He still thinks Skinner was right about nearly everything. Dr. Palmer does not receive speaker fees for presenting as part of the ABACLive Cambridge Center Series. These fees are donated directly to The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies (TM). 


    6:30 pm: Introduction
    6:35 pm: Webinar begins
    8:15 pm: Q&A session
    8:30 pm: Evaluation, post-test and code submission forms

    Credit Hour Information

    BCBAs earn 2  CEUs for viewing  LIVE or recording.

    • Must pass post-test with 80% or above and submit all attendance codes
    • CEs not available for other professions

    For ABAC's continuing education approvals statements please view our Continuing Education page