MEMORY / HABIT / ADDICTION – a workshop organized by the Neuroscience and Society Network

28 November 2019
Room 3.09/10
5-11 Lavington Street
King’s College London

Research on addiction shows that habitual behaviours are intimately tied into specific
contexts, objects and memories related to drug experiences. The life and social sciences
have been investigating the relationships between substances, memory and habits since at least the late nineteenth century. In recent years, however, many addiction neuroscientists and psychologists have converged on the view that addiction is a kind of memory process – that neurobiological and psychological changes affected by habits of pleasure and pain can persist for months, years, even decades after all neurochemical traces of drugs have left the body.

Habits, many argue, are not primarily goal-oriented. They are rather, sequences of behaviours, which are cued by contextual factors and objects rather than an expected
reward. For example, while memory of a ‘high’ can remain as part of the goal for cocaine
users, many will continue to use despite no longer feeling pleasure from the drugs they
consume.

Memory is central in these discussions, because drugs and the desire for them are
imbued with intense meaning, memory and emotion, that often exist unconsciously. Thus, addiction treatments are increasingly concerned with how ‘drug memories’ can be
destabilised and altered through processes of ‘reconsolidation’.

What then, are the implications of understanding addiction as a problem of memory? To what extent does this point of view challenge established notions of memory and behaviour, pleasure and emotion? What might it tell us about human life and the kinds of living creatures we are? And what are the implications for thinking of context and embodiment and how they affect minds, brains and bodies?

This event is part of a wider programme of activity by the Neuroscience and Society
Network (NSN) to develop and support collaborative exchanges between the
neurosciences, humanities and social sciences. The NSN is funded by King’s Together
which offers seed funding for inter- and multi-disciplinary research projects with the aim of developing these into larger research programmes.

PROGRAMME
9:00 – 9:10 Introduction
Nikolas Rose, Professor of Sociology, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, King’s College London

9:10 – 11:15 Provocations

The Memory-Turn in Addictions Neuroscience
Sam McLean, Lecturer, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, King’s College London

Habit, Materiality and Drug User’s Perspectives (tbc)
Marie Jauffret-Roustide, Research Fellow, French Institute of Health and Medical Research

Memory-Focused Cognitive Therapy
John Marsden, Professor of Addiction Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London

Echoes of Endlessness: Time and Memory for Heroin Users on the Coast of Scotland
Laura Roe, PhD Candidate, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews

11:15 – 11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 – 1:00 Discussion Session 1

1:00 – 2:00 Lunch

2:00 – 3:30 Discussion Session 2

3:30 – 4:00 Coffee Break

4:00 – 5:30 Discussion Session 3

5:30 – 6:00 Concluding Remarks
PARTICIPANTS

  • Felicity Callard, Professor of Social Research and Director of Birkbeck Institute for Social Research
  • Ross Coomber, Professor of Criminology and Sociology Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, University of Liverpool
  • Kris De Meyer, Research Fellow, Department of Neuroimaging and Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Geography, King’s College London
  • Guntars Ermansons, Teaching Fellow, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, King’s College London
  • Hannah Farrimond, Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Philosophy and
    Anthropology, University of Exeter
  • Timothy Hickman, Senior Lecturer, Department of History, Lancaster University
  • Richard Holton, Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge
  • Marie Jauffret-Roustide, Research Fellow, French Institute of Health and Medical Research
  • John Marsden, Professor of Addiction Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London
  • Sam McLean, Lecturer, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, King’s College London
  • Jesse Proudfoot, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Durham University
  • Laura Roe, PhD Candidate, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews
  • Nikolas Rose, Professor of Sociology, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, King’s College London
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