Synopses & Reviews
Picture your twenty-first birthday. Did you have a party? If so, do you remember who was there? Now step back: how clear are those memories? Should we trust them to be accurate, or is there a chance that you’re remembering incorrectly? And where have the many details you can no longer recall gone? Are they hidden somewhere in your brain, or are they gone forever?
Such questions have fascinated scientists for hundreds of years, and, as Alison Winter shows in Memory: Fragments of a Modern History, the answers have changed dramatically in just the past century. Tracing the cultural and scientific history of our understanding of memory, Winter explores early metaphors that likened memory to a filing cabinet; later, she shows, that cabinet was replaced by the image of a reel of film, ever available for playback. That model, too, was eventually superseded, replaced by the current understanding of memory as the result of an extremely complicated, brain-wide web of cells and systems that together assemble our pasts. Winter introduces us to innovative scientists and sensationalistic seekers, and, drawing on evidence ranging from scientific papers to diaries to movies, explores the way that new understandings from the laboratory have seeped out into psychiatrists' offices, courtrooms, and the culture at large. Along the way, she investigates the sensational battles over the validity of repressed memories that raged through the 1980s and shows us how changes in technology—such as the emergence of recording devices and computers—have again and again altered the way we conceptualize, and even try to study, the ways we remember.
Packed with fascinating details and curious episodes from the convoluted history of memory science, Memory is a book you'll remember long after you close its cover.
"A compelling, entertaining and information-rich narrative that explains why the brain's glial cells -- traditionally considered mere 'packing materials' separating nerve cells -- may be living a secret life of their own. Fields persuasively argues that this 'other brain' may hold the key to curing brain diseases such as multiple sclerosis, migraine and stroke, as well as enhancing our understanding of the mind." -- Richard Restak, M.D., author of Mozart's Brain and The Fighter Pilot and Think Smart
"A brilliant and indispensable guide to the brave new frontier of brain science. With a storyteller's heart and a scientist's keen eye, R. Douglas Fields serves as our neural Jacques Cousteau, roving the depths of this thrilling realm to show us the vital discoveries that are being made today, and the breakthroughs that may come tomorrow. Read this book -- your brain will thank you for it." -- Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code
and#8220;andlt;iandgt;The Other Brainandlt;/iandgt; offers an insightful, complex, and nuanced picture of the most interesting substance on earth: the matter inside our heads.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; and#8212;Anthony Doerr, andlt;iandgt;The Boston Globeandlt;/iandgt;
"A deft study of twentieth-century memory controversies."
"Impressive. . . . Winter has done an admirable job synthesizing many diverse sources into a tidy cultural history. . . . A compelling demonstration that the science of memory—like all science—is both a product of and an influence on the culture from which it springs."
"A brilliant, original history of the intertwined theories of memory and attempts to recall past experience. Winter writes with engaging discernment about the clinic and the courtroom, trauma and therapy, neuroscience and neurospeculation, bringing to revealing life disputes about the reliability of memory that have arisen in the law, the laboratory, and the media."
"There is no other book like this--a deeply researched, vividly written, marvelously accessible account of (not quite) a dozen important episodes in what Alison Winter calls the 'sciences of recall' in the twentieth century. A hugely enjoyable read, full of new information and valuable insights."
"Good books on memory are made of this: sophisticated ideas, subtle observations, and an engaging style. This one by Alison Winter is better than simply good. Its splendid."
Now in trade paperback - the importance of the brain’s glial cells and why they may hold the key to memory and a variety of diseases.
Despite everything that has been written about the brain, a potentially critical part of this vital organ has been overlookedand#8212;until now. andlt;Iandgt;The Other Brain andlt;/Iandgt;examines the growing importance of glia, which make up approximately 85 percent of the cells in the brain, and the role they play in how the brain functions, malfunctions, and heals itself. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Long neglected as little more than cerebral packing material, glia (meaning and#8220;glueand#8221;) are now known to regulate the flow of information between neurons and to repair the brain and spinal cord after injury and stroke. But scientists are also discovering that diseased and damaged glia play a significant role in psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, and in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsonand#8217;s and Alzheimerand#8217;s. Diseased glia cause brain cancer and multiple sclerosis and are linked to infectious diseases such as HIV and prion disease (mad cow disease, for example) and to chronic pain. The more we learn about these cells that make up the and#8220;otherand#8221; brain, the more important they seem to be. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Written by a neuroscientist who is a leader in glial research, andlt;Iandgt;The Other Brain andlt;/Iandgt;gives readers a much more complete understanding of how the brain works and an intriguing look at potentially revolutionary developments in brain science and medicine.
About the Author
Alison Winter is associate professor of history at the University of Chicago and the author of Mesmerized: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain and Memory: Fragments of a Modern History.
Table of Contents
Hugo Münsterberg and the Psychology of Witness Memory2
The Making of Truth Serum3
Memories of War4
Wilder Penfield and the Recording of Personal Experience5
The Three Lives of Bridey Murphy6
Securing Memory in the Cold War7
The Law of Memory9
Frederic Bartlett and the Social Psychology of Remembering10
Making False Memory11
Reliving and Revising MemoryNotesIndex