The mysteries of memory are finally yielding to dramatic, even revolutionary, scientific breakthroughs. Drawing on his own cutting-edge research and that of other cognitive, clinical, and neuroscientists, Schacter explains how and why this research may change our understanding of everything from false memory to Alzheimer’s disease, from recovered memory to amnesia.
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)