Searching For Memory: The Brain, The Mind, And The Past [NOOK Book]


Memory. There may be nothing more important to human beings than our ability to enshrine experience and recall it. While philosophers and poets have elevated memory to an almost mystical level, psychologists have struggled to demystify it. Now, according to Daniel Schacter, one of the most distinguished memory researchers, the mysteries of memory are finally yielding to dramatic, even revolutionary, scientific breakthroughs. Schacter explains how and why it may change our understanding of everything from false ...
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Searching For Memory: The Brain, The Mind, And The Past

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Memory. There may be nothing more important to human beings than our ability to enshrine experience and recall it. While philosophers and poets have elevated memory to an almost mystical level, psychologists have struggled to demystify it. Now, according to Daniel Schacter, one of the most distinguished memory researchers, the mysteries of memory are finally yielding to dramatic, even revolutionary, scientific breakthroughs. Schacter explains how and why it may change our understanding of everything from false memory to Alzheimer’s disease, from recovered memory to amnesia with fascinating firsthand accounts of patients with striking—and sometimes bizarre—amnesias resulting from brain injury or psychological trauma.

Describes encoding & retrieving the present, the past/memory distortion/amnesia & the brain/implicit memory, etc.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Schacter, a Harvard psychology professor, has produced a full, rich picture of how human memory works, an elegant, captivating tour de force that interweaves the latest research in cognitive psychology and neuroscience with case materials and examples from everyday life. Clinical studies of brain-damaged and amnesiac patients reinforce his thesis that memory is not a single faculty, as was long assumed, but instead depends on a variety of systems, each tied to a particular network of brain structures, all acting in concert so we recognize objects, acquire habits, hold information for brief periods, retain concepts and recollect specific events. Aided by numerous reproductions of contemporary paintings that evoke the subjective workings of memory, Schacter explores how we convert fragmentary remains of experience into autobiographical narratives. Implicit memory, at work even when we are unable to fully recall recent events, pervasively, unconsciously colors our perceptions, judgments, feelings and behavior, he maintains. Chapters also cover distortion in memory, repressed memory of childhood sexual abuse, recollection of extreme trauma and memory impairment with aging. This wonderfully enlightening survey enlarges our understanding of the mind's potential. (June)
Library Journal
Harvard psychologist Schacter (Victims of Memory, LJ 4/15/95) here delivers a solid, thoughtful analysis of memory, underscoring the relationship between memory's limitations and its pervasive influence as the core of how the past shapes the present. Memory, he writes, is not to be conceptualized as a unitary phenomenon but as a composite of separate processes and systems. Memories do not emerge as passive recordings of reality but also store meaning and emotion. Consequently, the way we perceive events plays a major role in what we later recall. Schacter argues effectively that it is important to know how past memories shape present realities. Echoing Barry Gordon's Memory: Remembering and Forgetting (Mastermedia, 1995), this analysis of a burgeoning new area of study is recommended for informed readers.Dennis Glenn Twiggs, Winston-Salem, N.C.
A survey of new research on human memory drawing on artistic and anecdotal case studies and examples that enliven the impeccable scientific detail with a thematic narrative. Schacter (psychology, Harvard U.) uses his own research, that of other cognitive scientists and neuroscientists, literary and art sources, and autobiography to explain semantic, episodic, procedural, and implicit memory, as well as the origins and implications of memory distortion, brain damage, amnesia, repressed memories, and memory loss due to diseases such as Alzheimer's. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
William Beatty
Schacter describes what memory is and how it works, explaining with admirable clarity such complicated subjects as the hippocampus and other pertinent areas of the brain and how they function, and he reviews the major advances in memory research that such techniques as positron-emission tomography have recently made possible. Memory, he shows, does not resemble a simple computer file; it is much more complicated and is influenced by many physical and emotional elements. The subjective sense of pastness is also important to it; claims for exact memory of conversations and other events, he points out, are often misleading. Further, his consideration of the problems of repressed memories is one of the best analyses of them in recent literature. Detailed, readable, well documented, his effort is a useful addition to popular and scholarly scientific collections alike. What's more, Schacter draws on his personal art collection to strikingly illustrate his report.
Kirkus Reviews
This long but never dull synthesis of research on memory from the late 19th century to the present provides a host of interesting facts and insights into how our recollections are formed, maintained, retrieved, and sometimes distorted or forgotten.

Personal memories, both conscious and unconscious, greatly influence our actions, habits, and values. Yet what exactly is memory? A professor of psychology at Harvard, Schacter skillfully bridges the disciplines of cognitive neuroscience and psychology in summarizing the neurological, hormonal, and emotional bases of memory. He also clearly distinguishes among several kinds of recollections, including semantic (cognitive) and procedural (task- oriented), as well as field versus observer (in the former, one is part of the recollected scene; in the latter, one isn't). Schacter is also very informative on pseudo-memories, noting the susceptibility of many young children to suggestive questioning and of some adults to hypnosis; psychogenic, or trauma-induced, amnesia; the recurrent intrusive memories found in post-traumatic stress disorder; the controversy between believers in and critics of "recovered memory" (memories, usually of sexual abuse, retrieved through hypnosis or other therapeutic techniques); and myths and realities concerning how aging affects memory. Schacter repeatedly notes how fragile memory is: It hardly provides a camcorder-like reflection of the past. Concerning flashbacks of a traumatic event, for example, he writes that "[their] content may say more about what a person believes or fears than about what actually happened." His narrative style is superb, balancing clear scientific journalism with interesting anecdotal material. Contemporary art focusing on the themes of memory and forgetting provides a vivid counterpoint.

In short, a highly readable, intellectually rich, and altogether memorable work.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786724291
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 8/4/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 948,582
  • File size: 8 MB

Meet the Author

Daniel L. Schacter is professor and chair of psychology at Harvard University. He is the author of Stranger Behind the Engram: Theories of Memory and the Psychology of Science (1982) and has received the Troland Research Award from the National academy of Sciences. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts with his wife and two daughters.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Memory's Fragile Power 1
1 On Remembering: "A Telescope Pointed at Time" 15
2 Building Memories: Encoding and Retrieving the Present and the Past 39
3 Of Time and Autobiography 72
4 Reflections in a Curved Mirror: Memory Distortion 98
5 Vanishing Traces: Amnesia and the Brain 134
6 The Hidden World of Implicit Memory 161
7 Emotional Memories: When the Past Persists 192
8 Islands in the Fog: Psychogenic Amnesia 218
9 The Memory Wars: Seeking Truth in the Line of Fire 248
Notes 309
Bibliography 350
Index 387
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2006

    Memory explored

    I started this book some time ago, soon after it came out, probably, in 1996. That was during the height of the recovered memory movement, and this volume is partly a response to that hysteria from a professional psychologist with an interest in memory. The author reviews current theories on memory from both a clinical and a experimental psychology viewpoint. He has several interesting stories to tell, about examples of limited memory loss for certain classes of words, or pictures, and the limited evidence for complete repression of memory. The issue of the difficulty that people have with citing the source for a memory is particularly interesting. I am always being asked how I know something and I cannot say. This tendancy to forget attribution may in particular cause problems with attribution of credit in scholarly works, however.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2011

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    Posted December 28, 2013

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