Cover image for Memory : how we use it, lose it, and can improve it
Memory : how we use it, lose it, and can improve it
Samuel, David.
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Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 128 pages ; 24 cm
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QP406 .S26 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Few things are as essential to our lives-and as apparently unfathomable-as our memories. As Jane Austen's heroine Fanny Price remarks in Mansfield Park , "if any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think it is memory . . . sometimes so retentive and so serviceable, so obedient-and at others so bewildered and so weak."

In Memory , David Samuel draws on a lifetime of scientific research to produce an informative and wide-ranging view of the subject. He examines how memory has been investigated in the past and what modern studies of brain structure and function can tell us about it. He then goes on to discuss long-term, short-term, and working memory, the limits to and normal loss of memory, the effects of alcohol, drugs and anxiety, Alzheimer's, and both deliberate and unintentional fraud in "tricks of memory."

While exploring the future of memory research, he also addresses the age-old questions of how to improve our memory and why certain people, such as diplomats, actors and doormen, have such good memories.

Author Notes

David Samuel is Emeritus Professor of Physical Chemistry in the Department of Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. He was the Founder and Director of the Centre for the Chemistry of the Brain and Behaviour, and a member of the International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) and many other academic organizations. He has been a visiting professor at universities in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, including University of California at Berkeley, Harvard and Yale.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

As an introduction to the excitement of psychological research, particularly on memory, this book succeeds. Samuel focuses on the intriguing and provocative results of investigations of memory, though he makes little effort to integrate these findings or tell a coherent story. Heavily reductionist, the discussion emphasizes brain mechanisms in the storage and loss of information and gives relatively little coverage to the more psychological variables--e.g., interference to explain memory failure--and the role of mnemonics in improvement. Samuel tends to end each discussion with the observation that phenomenon are not well understood and represent problems for the future, but part of the reason things seem unclear is the author's failure to provide careful definition. For example, he says recall is "the reproduction of information ... from memory" and "differs ... from retrieval," but retrieval is "a general term for recalling information." Most useful to undergraduate students--who should read it in conjunction with Daniel Dennett's more positive and equally accessible Consciousness Explained (1991) or Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works (CH, Apr'98)--Samuel's challenging introduction should lead the uninitiated into further exploration of these topics. P. L. Derks; emeritus, College of William and Mary

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
1 What is memory?p. 1
2 The brainp. 15
3 The six sensesp. 33
4 Memory and memoriesp. 49
5 Losing one's memoryp. 71
6 Regaining one's memoryp. 91
7 The future of memory research: problems and possibilitiesp. 107
Glossaryp. 117
Bibliographyp. 122
Indexp. 123