A Neuroscientist’s Poignant Study of How We Forget Most Things in Life (The New Yorker):
Any study of memory is, in the main, a study of its frailty. In “Remember,” an engrossing survey of the latest research, Lisa Genova explains that a healthy brain quickly forgets most of what passes into conscious awareness. The fragments of experience that do get encoded into long-term memory are then subject to “creative editing.” To remember an event is to reimagine it; in the reimagining, we inadvertently introduce new information, often colored by our current emotional state. A dream, a suggestion, and even the mere passage of time can warp a memory. It is sobering to realize that three out of four prisoners who are later exonerated through DNA evidence were initially convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony. “You can be 100 percent confident in your vivid memory,” Genova writes, “and still be 100 percent wrong.”
Genova, a neuroscientist by training, has spent most of her working life writing fiction about characters with various neurological maladies. Her novel “Still Alice,” from 2007, centered on a Harvard psychology professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. In “Remember,” her first nonfiction work, Genova assures her readers that only two per cent of Alzheimer’s cases are of the strictly inherited, early-onset kind. For most of us, our chances of developing the disease are highly amenable to interventions…
The neuroscientist and bestselling author of Still Alice explains how memories are made, how to retrieve them, and why forgetting the reason you walked into the kitchen is no reason to panic…Genova’s plentiful anecdotes from her personal and professional lives make it easy for readers to relate, and her obvious expertise in memory and the brain results in a book that is more insightful than many others on the subject.
Sharp writing and accessible storytelling make for a compelling read.
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