In sunny Huntington Beach, the 2023 International Conference on Learning and Memory (LEARNMEM2023) attracted 1,128 scholars from more than 30 different countries to explore the latest breakthrough research in learning and memory.

The conference was held April 26-30th at the Waterfront Beach Resort with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the iconic Huntington Beach Pier. The event was hosted in celebration of the CNLM’s 40th anniversary. The 5-day, 6-parallel session conference featured 42 symposia, 76 lightning talks, 53 open papers, and 397 posters.

Conference attendees used the CNLM conference app to keep track of their jam-packed itinerary, to set up times to talk with conference attendees, and to win prizes by competing in friendly games and trivia competitions. The app even notified attendees about an appearance by a human-sized Squawkie—a plastic squeaky chicken toy used to warn speakers if they went over their allotted time

LEARNMEM is more than just a scientific conference. It is a clear statement that no sub-discipline of neuroscience will meet the grand challenge of solving the brain’s mysteries on its own.

Michael A. Yassa, Ph.D.
LEARNMEM2023 Program Chair

This extraordinary conference was organized by a scientific committee consisting of early career faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. The goal was to build a program that would attract a diverse array of brilliant minds from every discipline to work together.

In addition to cutting-edge science, LEARNMEM2023 included activities to engage scholars in interesting ways:

  • Workshop on scientific communication skills
  • Daily professional development lunches and networking activities
  • Frontiers for Young Minds Live Review, where children reviewed the work of scientists... Live!
  • 80’s Movie Night with a special screening of the 1985 classic, Back to the Future

CNLM Fellow Dr. Katherine Thompson-Peer and LEARNMEM2023 plenary speaker Dr. Saul Villeda hold up a signed Squawkie, a plastic chicken toy used to warn speakers when they have gone over time.

CNLM Founding Director Dr. James L. McGaugh laughs with 
conference attendees at a special 40th Anniversary celebration event during LEARNMEM2023.
CNLM Founding Director Dr. James L. McGaugh laughs with conference attendees at a special 40th Anniversary celebration event during LEARNMEM2023.

LEARNMEM2023 fostered dialogue among scientists from disparate fields to forge new collaborations and make compelling new discoveries. Our time-honored tradition, the 50/50 Discussion Rule—which designates 50% of allotted symposia time to discussion—was a key feature that ensured sufficient time for such engagement.

The first International Conference on Learning and Memory was held in 2018 (LEARNMEM2018-http://learnmem2018.org). While the original plan was to host the 2nd conference only three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately made this plan impossible. Now, five years later, the conference brought together the entire learning and memory community to discuss the newest science and pave the path to future collaborations. The next conference is planned for 2026.

Videos of keynote and plenary lectures can be found at learnmem2023.org/videos

LEARNMEM2023 featured contributions from more than 700 scientists. We encouraged every attendee to ask questions and challenge ideas to grow the field in unique and diverse ways.

Manuella Oliveira Yassa, Ph.D.
LEARNMEM2023 Executive Director

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