memory

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

By Oliver Sacks

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"In his most extraordinary book, Oliver Sacks recounts the case histories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders. Oliver Sacks's The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat tells the stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents. If inconceivably strange, these brilliant tales remain, in Dr. Sacks's splendid and sympathetic telling, deeply human. They are studies of life struggling against incredible adversity, and they enable us to enter the world of the neurologically impaired, to imagine with our hearts what it must be to live and feel as they do. A great healer, Sacks never loses sight of medicine's ultimate responsibility: 'the suffering, afflicted, fighting human subject.'"

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

By Daniel L. Schacter

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"Over the past two decades scientists have made remarkable breakthroughs in understanding how memories are stored and retrieved, and with this knowledge they are beginning to understand the mysteries of the human mind. How can we perform tasks such as playing the piano or typing in such a way that we do not need to consciously direct each movement every step of the way? Why can we forget where we put our keys and yet remember events that happened long ago? Why is memory imperfect, and sometimes dead wrong? Daniel Schacter has been at the forefront of the research, and Searching for Memory is his firsthand account of what we now know and what it means.

"With references to art and autobiography and fascinating case studies, a la Oliver Sacks, he explains how one's past experiences influence the formation of new memories, how and why memory changes as people age, and much more. The book also sheds light on such hot topics as false memory syndrome, recovered memory, Alzheimer's disease and brain-damaged patients."

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In the Palaces of Memory: How We Build the Worlds inside Our Heads

By George Johnson

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Even as you read these words, a tiny portion of your brain is physically changing. New connections are being sprouted -- a circuit that will create a stab of recognition if you encounter the words again. That is one of the theories of memory presented in this intriguing and splendidly readable book, which distills three researchers' inquiries into the processes that enable us to recognize a face that has aged ten years or remember a melody for decades. Ranging from experiments performed on the "wetware" of the brain to attempts to re-create human cognition in computers, In the Palaces of Memory is science writing at its most exciting.

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