Conversations About Ethics

The Making and Unmaking of Memories: Beneficial uses and ethical implications of memory manipulation

Joseph LeDoux

Memory is stored in a variety of ways in the brain. Some systems store memories consciously and other non-consciously.  Memory occurs in stages—initially, a short-term memory is formed and then it is consolidated into a long-term memory. If this consolidation process is disrupted, long-term memory does not form.  Memories become labile after retrieval and have to be reconsolidated in order to persist as long-term memories.  This offers the opportunity to manipulate memory after retrieval for the purpose of weakening troubling memories, say after trauma. Ethical implications of this will be discussed. 

Learning Objectives

  1. Outline the basic principles of memory formation and storage, including differences between kinds of memories
  2. Explain the way emotional arousal impacts memory
  3. Elucidate how memory can be changed by retrieval, and  manipulated in laboratory settings
  4. Examine potential beneficial uses, and ethical implications, of memory manipulation

CME: The UT Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The UT Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) accepts certificates of attendance for educational activities certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by the ACCME.

 Healthcare professionals receiving a certificate of attendance should consult with their licensing board for information on applicability and acceptance.


CEU: The Ecumenical Center is an approved provider of continuing education by the State of Texas for the following: LPC, LMFT, LSW, LCSW and LMSW.

This activity provides up to 1.0 ethics continuing education units.

About the Speaker

LEDOUX 1823skcCOR.jpg

Joseph LeDoux is the Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science at NYU in the Center for Neural Science, and he directs the Emotional Brain Institute of NYU and the Nathan Kline Institute. He also a Professor of Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical School. His work is focused on the brain mechanisms of memory and emotion and he is the author of The Emotional Brain, Synaptic Self, and Anxious(July 2015).  LeDoux has received a number of awards, including the Karl Spencer Lashley Award from the American Philosophical Society, the Fyssen International Prize in Cognitive Science, Jean Louis Signoret Prize of the IPSEN Foundation, the Santiago Grisolia Prize, the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award, the American Psychological Association Donald O. Hebb Award.  LeDoux is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.   He is also the lead singer and songwriter in the rock band, The Amygdaloids.





Beginning of LifeMiddle of LifeEnd of Life

Resource List

This resource list brings together websites, videos, audio recordings, books, and articles to supplement the workshop and lecture.

By Our Speaker

Dipping Your Toe (Introductory Information)

Wading Waist High (Intermediate Resources)

Taking a Deep Dive (Advanced Materials)

Access to Materials

Freely available Online
Available through the San Antonio Public Library
For information about how to obtain a San Antonio Public Library card, click here:
Available through the Briscoe Library at the UTHSCSA Faculty
Faculty, students, and staff may access these materials remotely using their Health Science Center log-in. Non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public may access these materials in-person by visiting the library and registering for guest access. Off-site access is not available for non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public due to licensing restrictions.