The Proust Effect: The Senses as Doorways to Lost Memories

The Proust Effect: The Senses as Doorways to Lost Memories

by Cretien van Campen


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The senses can be powerful triggers for memories of our past, eliciting a range of both positive and negative emotions. The smell or taste of a long forgotten sweet can stimulate a rich emotional response connected to our childhood, or a piece of music transport us back to our adolescence. Sense memories can be linked to all the senses - sound, vision, and even touch can also trigger intense and emotional memories of our past.

In The Proust Effect, we learn about why sense memories are special, how they work in the brain, how they can enrich our daily life, and even how they can help those suffering from problems involving memory. A sense memory can be evoked by a smell, a taste, a flavor, a touch, a sound, a melody, a color or a picture, or by some other involuntary sensory stimulus. Any of these can triggers a vivid, emotional reliving of a forgotten event in the past.

Exploring the senses in thought-provoking scientific experiments and artistic projects, this fascinating book offers new insights into memory - drawn from neuroscience, the arts, and professions such as education, elderly care, health care therapy and the culinary profession.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199685875
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 04/01/2014
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Cretien van Campen, writer, researcher, and lecturer at Synesthetics Netherlands, the Netherlands Institute for Social Research, and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences.

Cretien van Campen is a Dutch author, scientific researcher and lecturer in social science and fine arts. He is the founder of Synesthetics Netherlands and is affiliated with the Netherlands Institute for Social Research and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences. He is best known for his work on synesthesia in art, including historical reviews of how artists have used synesthetic perceptions to produce art, and studies of perceived quality of life, in particular of how older people with health problems perceive their living conditions in the context of health and social care services.

Table of Contents

1. A Memory of the Senses: Introduction
Part I Art
2. The Proust Effect: The Dual Effect of Opening Lost Memories and Bringing Joy
3. The Power of Fragrances: Smell Memories in Literary Fiction and Culinaria
4. Listening to 'My Generation': Musical Memories by Pop Songs
5. The Art of Memory: Visual Memories through Paintings, Television and Video Art
Part II Science
6. The Hippocampus of Proust: The Making of Sense Memories in the Brain
7. Nabokov as a Toddler in St. Petersburg: Stories of the Origins of Sense Memories in Childhood
8. The Little Bricoleur: How Children Create Eidetic and Synaesthetic Memories
Part III Practice
9. Do Sense Memories Make You Happier?: Personal Well-being, Aromatherapy, and Taste Lessons in School
10. Uplifting Musical Memories: People with Depression, Dementia and Care for Older People
11. Remembering 20,000 Digits of Pi: How Memory Artists Use Sense Memories
12. How People Colour Their Past: Synaesthesia or How the Senses Colour Present and Past
13. Enjoying Sense Memories: Concluding remarks
Appendix on the neuropsychology of the memory of the senses

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