Center on Autobiographical Memory Research (CON AMORE) officially opened with a successful conference

The centre of excellence, Center on Autobiographical Memory Research (CON AMORE) opened 1st January 2010. 13 - 16 June 2010, the center officially opened in connection with the international conference “Theoretical Perspectives on Autobiographical Memory” at Department of Psychology, Aarhus University.

International list of participants

CON AMORE opened in 2010 as a centre of excellence with a grant of DKK 42 mio from the Danish National Research Foundation.

Sunday 13 June 2010, the conference officially opened in the Aula with an opening lecture by Professor Alan Baddeley, University of York, and an opening speech by Chairman of the Board of the Danish National Research Foundation, Professor Klaus Bock. The first day of the conference ended by a successful opening reception in the Museum of Ancient Art.

The conference was a crowd-puller for researchers within the autobiographical memory field, and a specific goal for the conference was to gather the field, when the conference was announced late summer 2009. It was an international list of participants with more than 19 nationalities represented. ”With such a variety of nationalities represented, the research field, autobiographical memory, also shows that it is an international research area which needs to be taken seriously”, says Head of the Center, Professor Dorthe Berntsen.

Development of the research area autobiographical memory

Autobiographical memory is a research area, which has developed during the last three decades, and where each decade has been characterized by a number of new topics.

In the 1980s, the areas within development and knowledge structures were touched on, in the 1990s, focus was extended on affective disorders and brain disorders, as well as trauma and false memory. In the beginning of the new century, the new areas of interest were brain imaging and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as the connection between imagining the future and recollecting the past. The development within the field shows that the researchers know a lot more about autobiographical memories today than they did in the 1980s.

Back in the 1980s, the recognized psychological journals were dominated by other subjects, and did not see autobiographical memory as being a sufficiently scientific research area. The consequence was frequent rejections on submission of articles, which led to a number of edited books from the researchers. Later on, more journals came about, and the editors of these journals saw the potentials in the research area of autobiographical memory, and thus, accepted more articles, making the autobiographical memory a fast growing area.

”Much has happened since the beginning of the 1980s, and today, researchers know a lot more about autobiographical memories than back then, thus, it is the right time to try to integrate the various perspectives and approaches, that have developed over the years”, says Dorthe Berntsen.

Conference with great benefits

CON AMORE is looking back at a conference with great benefits. Several visitors have shown interest in visiting CON AMORE, e.g. as visiting fellows, visiting professors, or exchange of PhD students.

Future events

CON AMORE is planning to host an event each summer, e.g. a seminar or a smaller conference with focus on a specific subject. The center is hoping to host an international meeting in the summer 2011, and at this point, ”Development” is likely to be the focus of the conference. Dorthe Berntsen elaborates, ”by choosing a specific subject, a thorough study of a part of autobiographical memory is possible. Additionally, it is an opportunity for researchers, who do not do research within this specific area on a daily basis, and thus, are not so familiar with research on autobiographical memory, to get an increased knowledge about this specific area. Finally, it is a way to establish contact with other researchers, and for further development of the area.

The clinical field is also an area that the center wishes to learn more about, however, the clinical field and its relation to autobiographical memory is a huge area, and could do a conference on its own. That is why the area was only sporadically touched upon during the conference with Keynote Speaker, Professor Tilmann Habermas, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, and in the poster presentations.

Keynote presentations will be published in edited book

On the background of the keynote presentations, an edited book entitled “Understanding autobiographical memory: Theories and approaches” will be published. The book will be published by Cambridge University Press.