Course Title: Plenary D - Adaptive Constructive Processes in Memory, Imagination, and Creativity (Schacter)


Credit Hours: 1


Instructor(s) Daniel L. Schacter


Daniel L. Schacter, PhD
William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor
Department of Psychology
Harvard University

Plenary D:


Adaptive Constructive Processes in Memory, Imagination, and Creativity

Abstract & Learning Objectives:

Adaptive constructive processes play a functional role in cognition but can also produce distortions or errors as a consequence of doing so. According to the constructive episodic simulation hypothesis, simulation of future and other hypothetical experiences depends importantly on episodic retrieval processes that allow individuals to draw on the past in a manner that flexibly extracts and re-combines elements of previous experiences, but they may also be responsible for specific kinds of memory errors. This talk will consider both cognitive and neural evidence from studies of episodic remembering, future imagining, and creative thinking that reveal the operation of adaptive constructive processes and provide clues concerning their nature and function.


Upon conclusion of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Explain the concept of adaptive constructive processes
  • Describe cognitive and fMRI studies of remembering the past and imagining the future, divergent creative thinking, and memory distortion
  • Analyze approaches to manipulating the involvement of episodic retrieval processes in cognitive tasks that are not typically considered to be episodic memory tasks

Speaker Biography:

Dr. Daniel L. Schacter is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Schacter received his PhD from the University of Toronto in 1981, and then served as director of the Unit for Memory Disorders at Toronto for the next six years. He joined the psychology department at the University of Arizona in 1987 and was appointed Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University in 1991, where he served as Chair from 1995-2005.
Dr. Schacter’s research has explored the relation between explicit and implicit forms of memory, the nature of memory distortions, how individuals use memory to imagine future events, and the effects of aging on memory. Schacter and his many collaborators have published over 400 articles and chapters on these and related topics.
Schacter has received various awards for his research, including most recently the, the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions from the American Psychological Association, the William James Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science, and the Distinguished Career Contribution Award from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He has been elected to the Society of Experimental Psychologists, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and National Academy of Sciences.
Many of Schacter’s ideas and findings are summarized in his 1996 book, Searching for Memory, and his 2001 book, The Seven Sins of Memory, both named as New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and both winners of the American Psychological Association’s William James Book Award.