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Searching for Memory: The Brain, the Mind, and the Past

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  358 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Memory. There may be nothing more important to human beings than our ability to enshrine experience and recall it. While philosophers and poets have elevated memory to an almost mystical level, psychologists have struggled to demystify it. Now, according to Daniel Schacter, one of the most distinguished memory researchers, the mysteries of memory are finally yielding to dr ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 2nd 1997 by Basic Books (first published 1996)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was originally introduced to this book while in graduate school taking a graduate seminar on historiography. After reading and discussing it, I had a whole new view on history, perception, and life. It really changed me. I often refer to Schacter's work when doing research for my fiction writing. To say it informs my work is a gross understatement. Searching for Memory provides an underpinning from which most of my fiction arises. Questions of memory and perception are always in the forefront ...more
Jan 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you want to know lots of stuff about memory, read this book. It's not totally up-to-date in this fast moving field, but reasonably so. Full of interesting "right brain" material, graphics, etc. about memory. Covers everything from what happens at the synapse to what makes a savant a savant, to age-related cognitive decline. Thorough and well-written.
Deborah Biancotti
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fic, psychology
Schachter does an impressive job of synthesising the disciplines that go into the study of the mind & memory, & making the study accessible to the casual reader. I wish he'd write books like this on every subject of interest. That's right. Every. One. ...more
May 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
One of several excellent books by Schacter, who possesses the rare (and sorely needed) talent of communicating cutting-edge theory and data in neuroscience to a lay audience in an engaging but not-watered-down way.
Nov 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
this book is so easy to read and lays much of the foundational support for more recent "pop" psych books on Happiness. A ton of interesting reserach on how we process (and fabricate) memories based on imprinting and creating engrams in the brain. Much of what we say we rememember we have created. A great read for science geeks and those who love soft sci-fi. You cant but wonder about sean young.

Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Belleğin kırılgan gücü bölümüyle başlayarak bir ders kitabından öte, sürükleyici bir Proust romanı okuyormuşcasına beni içine çekti. 'Anılar nasıl inşa edilir?', 'Anıların Çarpıtılması', 'Geçmiş Geçmemekte ısrar ettiğinde; Duygusal Anılar'bölümleri ve Amnezi öyküleri ile belleğe dair büyük bir farkındalık yaratacak. Arada bir unutmamak için tekrar tekrar karıştırıp okuyarak sayfalarını eskittiğim kitaptır.
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An especially well-written piece of non-fiction, filled with rich anecdotes about human cognition that you will remember for years.
John Petrocelli
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review: Schacter offers the reader a relatively casual and entertaining discussion of memory – it’s much like taking a stroll through a park with Schacter and listening to his organized and meaningful prose on memory. I particularly liked how Schacter addresses encoding and retrieval processes and generally examines memory from multiple perspectives including cognitive, social, and emotional, and neuroscientific perspectives. An unexpected and unique angle, this book integrates how perceptions o ...more
Lauren Albert
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, science
Schacter covers an enormous range of topics in this book from memory and multiple-personality disorder to memory and aging. Full of anecdotes and medical studies, the book manages to be interesting as well as informative. I was glad he confirmed for me one of my own beliefs--we can be changed by experiences we don't remember. I am who I am in part because of the books I've read, even if I can't remember most of them.
Jan 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Fascinating stuff about different kinds of memory with all kinds of incredibly interesting implications. I was especially struck by the discussions of implanted memories, inadvertent plagiarism, and the non-existent correlation between one's confidence in, and the veracity of, any given memory.

Sad that mapping brain function has been so heavily reliant on primate research i.e. removing a specific part of the brain to see what abilities are eliminated/damaged in it's absence. Schacter sums this u
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
I liked this book's review of the brain and memory. The book itself is a little older, but I think the basics about memory and the brain still hold true. It has a nice combination of neuro-science and social science, with interesting anecdotal and experimental discoveries made about the process of remembering and recall.

I'm not a psychologist or researcher, so I'm not going to slaughter the semi-scientific review of memory (much). I will say the author does a good job of showing how complex memo
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book introducing me to the field of memory and brain. It somewhat changed my way of recognizing how memories form and organize together. Although this book covers a variety of solid knowledge, it is not boring to read through at all.
Several takeaways / ideas generated from this book:
- Memories are initially fragments, and then either consolidated to solid engram structures or faded out;
- How the engram structures work? Medial temporal region are indeces. The information there l
Sep 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really like this book, I keep thinking I'll be bored by it, and then I stay up till three am reading it. The premise is that we can no longer think of memory as a screen or a recording, but a function of multiple subjectivities and where we are standing at any moment we are looking back on it (aka "it": memory). A post modern and obvious premise, I guess, but something about Schacter's perspective as a psychologist who is versed in cognitive- and neuro-science makes this feel deep and rich. Al ...more
Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers interested in psychology both within and without fiction
Recommended to Rachel by: College Course
Shelves: 3-liked-it
Okay, so this is a weird book for me to put on here as it is a more scientific book, but I really enjoyed reading it. I actually read this book in an English class and, while reading it, we simultaneously read novels that dealt with memory, heroism, aging, trauma, and myth. Searching for Memory does just that - it searches the science of the brain and memory, including false memory, Alzheimer's, amnesia, and other psychological issues. Reading this book gave our class a very interesting viewpoin ...more
Nov 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mindhacking
Dit boek werd aanbevolen in een audio cursus (Memory Optimizer, Sheele en Birkenbihl )over de werking en training van het geheugen.

Schacter schrijft als wetenschapper in dit gebied toch een voor leken zeer begrijpelijk boek, ook al omdat het met veel voorbeelden uit kunst en literatuur (het madeleine koekje bij Proust..., Borges, )aangenaam leest.

Wie een "degelijk" onderbouwd boek verkiest over de werking van het geheugen
Lindsay ⭐ [TrulyBooked]
Chock full of interesting anecdotes, this isn't exactly an easy read, but it is an incredible look into the way that our memory works. We take for granted that our memories will just be there for us to unlock, but it requires so many different parts of our brain as well as learning techniques. This book was really illuminating.
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
LOVE this book! Easy to read, interesting, and gives you a new perspective on how you look at what memory means, how it stored and recalled, why you remember certain things and not others, and what can go wrong. I highly recommend this to anybody who is curious about how their mind works!
Aldara Vázquez
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Está bien para saber más sobre los procesos de memoria, y los distintos tipos que hay.
me parece muy curioso por ejemplo lo que sucede con la amnesia, en la que no son conscientes de los recuerdos pero sin embargo implícitamente sí que aprenden nuevas cosas.
vale la pena leerlo
Feb 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not only does this book give a great explanation of how the brain functions when it comes to the aspect of memory, but it also shows you how to grasp onto the inspiring moments of your life so that you may go about your existence in a greater state of exhilaration.
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it
I often reminisce and take pride in the amount of information I can recall about my distant past. This book however has illustrated the weaknesses of our memory system and has made me more cautious when judging what comes to my mind. A good read.
Jun 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
A phenomenal book that explains, in layman's terms, what is known about memory today. Schacter is a scientist but he makes references to art, literature to make his points. A must-read for memoirists and for anyone interested in, struggling with, curious about remembering.
Jan 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
skimmed some of this a bit too dense at times but also fascinating
Chris Pederson
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating book about how we remember and pathologies. Highly recommend!
Apr 29, 2014 rated it liked it
I have to confess that I just skimmed through it most of the time, but it was very enlightning in some issues.
Frank Spencer
Nov 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Schacter knows as much as anyone does about memory.
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Schacter's the go-to memory guy and this book makes some incredibly difficult findings accessible to everyone.
Esteban Joseph
rated it it was amazing
May 13, 2017
rated it really liked it
Feb 07, 2012
Olli-pekka Jauhiainen
rated it it was amazing
May 25, 2019
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Feb 08, 2018
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Daniel L. Schacter is Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. His research has focused on psychological and biological aspects of human memory and amnesia, with a particular emphasis on the distinction between conscious and nonconscious forms of memory and, more recently, on brain mechanisms of memory distortion. He received his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1 ...more

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Contemporary young adult literature has often led the way in depicting the real-life issues facing teens from all backgrounds. To delve into ho...
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“... [O]ne of the most influential approaches to thinking about memory in recent years, known as connectionism, has abandoned the idea that a memory is an activated picture of a past event. Connectionist or neural network models are based on the principle that the brain stores engrams by increasing the strength of connections between different neurons that participate in encoding an experience. When we encode an experience, connections between active neurons become stronger, and this specific pattern of brain activity constitutes the engram. Later, as we try to remember the experience, a retrieval cue will induce another pattern of activity in the brain. If this pattern is similar enough to a previously encoded pattern, remembering will occur. The "memory" in a neural network model is not simply an activated engram, however. It is a unique pattern that emerges from the pooled contributions of the cue and the engram. A neural network combines information in the present environment with patterns that have been stored in the past, and the resulting mixture of the two is what the network remembers... When we remember, we complete a pattern with the best match available in memory; we do not shine a spotlight on a stored picture.” 5 likes
“Thus, the "memories" that people reported contained little information about the event they were trying to recall (the speaker's tone of voice) but were greatly influenced by the properties of the retrieval cue that we gave them (the positive or negative facial expression).” 3 likes
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