The subjective experience of remembering (Discourse)

7.20pm to 8.45pm, Friday 23 March

The Theatre

This event has already taken place

  • Jon Simons will consider the latest evidence that is beginning to reveal the brain mechanisms responsible for remembrance.

    Credit: Kevin Dooley via Flickr


Standard £20


Concession £15


Free for Members and Patrons

Event description

The ability to remember personally experienced events in vivid, multisensory detail makes an immensely important contribution to our lives, allowing us to re-live each moment of a previous encounter and providing us with the store of precious memories that form the building blocks of who we are. Such remembering involves reactivating sensory and perceptual features of an event, and the thoughts and feelings we had when the event occurred, integrating them into a conscious first-person experience. It allows us to make judgments about the things we remember, such as distinguishing events that actually occurred from those we might have imagined or been told about. Although a great deal is known about the cognitive and neural processes that enable us to recall a word list, for example, considerably less is known about the processes underlying the subjective experience of remembering. Drawing on inspiration from philosophers and novelists, Jon Simons will consider the latest evidence during his Discourse.

About the speaker

Jon Simons is a reader in Cognitive Neuroscience at Cambridge University. His research investigates the role of brain regions such as the frontal, medial temporal, and parietal lobes in human memory.

His research in the laboratory uses a number of methods, including behavioural studies, functional neuroimaging (fMRI), electrophysiology (EEG/MEG), and brain stimulation (TMS/tDCS).

More about Discourses

Discourses are one of the Ri’s oldest and most prestigious series of talks. Since 1825, audiences in the theatre have witnessed countless mind-expanding moments, including the first public liquefaction of air by James Dewar, the announcement of the electron by J.J. Thomson and over 100 lectures by Michael Faraday. In more recent times, we have had Nobel laureates, Fields medal winners, scientists, authors and artists – all from the cutting-edge of their field. Discourses are an opportunity for the best and brightest to share their work with the world.

Steeped in nearly two centuries of tradition, a Discourse is more than just a lecture. To keep the focus on the topic, presenters begin sharply at 7:30pm without introduction and we lock the speaker into a room ten minutes ahead of the start (legend has it that a speaker once tried to escape!) We also ask guests to dress smartly to add to the sense of occasion.

Discourses are free for members - consider joining today.

Find out more about the history of the Friday Evening Discourses on our blog.

Food and Drink

The Atrium cafe will be open before and after the talk. Check out the delicious menu and call 020 7670 2973 or email to reserve your table.

There will also be a cash bar on the Mezzanine before the Discourse, where you can relax, meet likeminded people with an interest in science, and have a drink.

Dress code

The dress code for this event is smart (ties optional, no jeans or trainers). Please note, if you are not dressed smartly you may be asked to sit in the gallery.

Timing note

Please be aware that this Discourse starts at 7.30pm, but all attendees must be seated in the theatre by 7.20pm. This is half an hour earlier than previous Discourses.

The doors will open at approximately 6.45pm.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri Channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.

Become a member

Benefit from free and better than half-price tickets, special offers and access to the CHRISTMAS LECTURES ticket ballot.

Join todayGo