Encourages a new appreciation of the complexity and fragility of memory and how it affects our daily lives.
Compelling in its science and its probing examination of everyday life...a delightful book, lively and clear.
Schacter offers insight into common malfunctions of the mind.
To Ben Franklin's adage concerning the certainty of death and taxes, one ought, after reading this book, to add memory failures. Schacter (chair, psychology, Harvard Univ.; Searching for Memory), illuminates the curious processes of memory by classifying its malfunctions into seven categories: transience, absent-mindedness, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias, and persistence. Schacter illustrates each of these "sins" with examples of routine misfortunes common to all (misplacing keys, forgetting someone's name) and cases of debilitating memory errors. Though memory failure can amount to little more than a mild annoyance, the consequences of misattribution in eyewitness testimony can be devastating, as can the consequences of suggestibility among pre-school children and among adults with "false memory syndrome." Lest we assume that memory is a badly engineered system, however, Schacter suggests that "the seven sins are by-products of otherwise adaptive features of memory." Drawing upon recent neuroimaging research that allows a glimpse of the brain as it learns and remembers, Schacter guides his readers on a fascinating journey of the human mind. Highly recommended for all libraries. Laurie Bartolini, Illinois State Lib., Springfield Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
It isn't only computers that have memory problems. Just ask anyone over a certain ageor take a look at this entertaining new book. As the title indicates, Schachter (Psychology/Harvard Univ.) describes seven generic failings to which everyone's memory is prone. Transience is the loss of details over time; everyone remembers last night's dinner better than that of a week ago, and that of a year ago is often entirely forgotten. Absentmindedness is the familiar inability to remember where you left your car keys or whether you took your medicine. One of the most frustrating is blocking (the "it's right on the tip of my tongue") phenomenon, in which a familiar word or name refuses to emerge from memory (often coming back in the middle of the night). Also common is misattribution, for example crediting Sean Connery for a role played by some other actor. Suggestibility is the tendency to adopt and hold onto false memories suggested by some other outside influence (such as a leading question) or to recall feeling at the time of a past event an emotion only experienced much later. A variety of biases lead us to reconstruct the past to match current beliefs, or to place ourselves at the center of events in which we were minor participants. Finally, there is persistence, the inability to forget even years later some traumatic event such as a rejection or a faux pas. For each of these traits, the author suggests causes as well as potential remedies: gingko biloba for transience, for example. In a summary chapter, Schacter argues that each of these failures is in fact an aspect of some positive trait without which memory would be far less valuable. A lively and well-written survey, spicedup with incidents from recent headlines. Author tour
"...Schacter guides his readers on a fascinating journey of the human mind." Library Journal
"A lively and well-written survey, spiced up with incidents from recent headlines." Kirkus Reviews
"Clear, entertaining and provocative....The book encourages a new appreciation of the complexity and fragility of memory." The Seattle Times
"Compelling in its science and its probing examination of everyday life...a delightful book, lively and clear." The Chicago Tribune
"Schacter offers insight into common malfunctions of the mind." USA Today
"Encourages a new appreciation of the complexity and fragility of memory and how it affects our daily lives." The Seattle Times