PROF MARTIN CONWAY ON ‘NARRATIVE THINKING’
London Neuropsychoanalysis Group
Martin A. Conway, Shazia Akhtar, Lucy V. Justice, & Catherine Loveday
Abstract: Narrative thinking takes place in the brain’s default network. Previously referred to as daydreaming or mind wandering, the central proposal of narrative thinking is that thought sequences, correlated with default network activation, are more structured, purposeful, and directed than previously thought. Narrative thinking features, among other types of cognition, the recall of autobiographical memories, simulations of future experiences, imaginings, personal factual knowledge, personal plans, strivings, and problem solving. Here we develop a theoretical account of features of narrative thinking that focuses on perspective (first versus third person) in narrative thought, themes, and what we term fictional memories. Narrative thinking has what has been termed fictionalizing tendencies and we elaborate upon what these are and argued that they give rise to fictional memories. However, all memories are to some degree fictional and the issue is, to what degree? We suggest that there is a dimension of memory fictionality running from we term normal fictional memories e.g. autobiographical memories of events that could or did happened, to abnormal fictional memories e.g. pre-birth, other life, memories, etc. Finally, we describe some new data and consider impaired narrative thinking in amnesic patients and in pathological aging. In the latter case one possibility is that changes in the fluency of narrative thinking maybe indicative of the development of progressive disorders.
Bio: Professor of Cognitive Psychology, head of the psychology department at City University London, Martin A. Conway, has been studying human memory for more than thirty years. He is known for his pioneering theoretical work on autobiographical memory, as well as for his studies of the neuropsychology of memory and memory’s neurological basis. His research also includes memory impairment and enhancement, and he has recently explored the links between the ability of humans to remember past events and imagine future ones. A graduate of University College London, Dr. Conway earned a Ph.D. in psychology at Open University in 1984. He worked as post-doctoral research scientist in the Medical Research Council’s Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge (UK) was later appointed lecturer in psychology at the University of Lancaster. He subsequently became professor and Chair of Psychology at the University of Bristol, Durham University, and the University of Leeds. A fellow of the Royal College of Arts, the British Psychological Society, the (UK) Academy of Social Sciences, the Psychonomic Society, and the American Psychological Association, he was awarded an honorary degree (Ph.D.) from the Université de Liège. He has been active in providing accessible accounts of research on memory to the public through radio and television, and has been involved in a variety of collaborations with artists that focus on memory. Dr. Conway has been an advisor in many legal cases and written extensively on memory and the law.
Thursday, October 6, 2016, 6 pm, at UCL, 26 Bedford Way, London WC1 (north corner), in room 305 on the third floor; this event is free (places are limited).