Pieces of Light: How the New Science of Memory Illuminates the Stories We Tell About Our Pasts

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9780062237897: Pieces of Light: How the New Science of Memory Illuminates the Stories We Tell About Our Pasts

Shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

Leading psychologist Charles Fernyhough blends the most current science with literature and personal stories in Pieces of Light: How the New Science of Memory Illuminates the Stories We Tell About Our Pasts.

A new consensus is emerging among cognitive scientists: rather than possessing fixed, unchanging memories, they have found that we create recollections anew each time we are called upon to remember. According to psychologist Charles Fernyhough, remembering is an act of narrative imagination as much as it is the product of a neurological process.

An NPR and Psychology Today contributor, Dr. Fernyhough guides readers through the fascinating new science of autobiographical memory, covering topics such as: navigation, imagination, and the power of sense associations to cue remembering. Exquisitely written and meticulously researched, Pieces of Light brings together science and literature, the ordinary and the extraordinary, to help us better understand our powers of recall and our relationship with the past.

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From the Back Cover:

How is it possible to have vivid memories of something that never happened?

How can siblings remember the same event from their childhoods so differently?

Do the selections and distortions of memory reveal a truth about the self?

Why are certain memories tied to specific places?

Does your memory really get worse as you get older?

A new consensus is emerging among cognitive scientists: rather than possessing fixed, unchanging memories, we create recollections anew each time we are called upon to remember. As the psychologist Charles Fernyhough explains, remembering is an act of narrative imagination as much as it is the product of a neurological process. In Pieces of Light, he eloquently illuminates this compelling scientific breakthrough via a series of personal stories—a visit to his college campus to see if his memories hold up, an interview with his ninety-three-year-old grandmother, conversations with those whose memories are affected by brain damage and trauma—each illustrating memory's complex synergy of cognitive and neurological functions.

Fernyhough guides readers through the fascinating new science of autobiographical memory, covering topics including imagination and the power of sense associations to cue remembering. Exquisitely written and meticulously researched, Pieces of Light brings together science and literature, the ordinary and the extraordinary, to help us better understand the ways we remember—and the ways we forget.

About the Author:

Charles Fernyhough is an award-winning writer and psychologist. His books include A Thousand Days of Wonder: A Scientist's Chronicle of His Daughter's Developing Mind and the novels The Auctioneer and A Box of Birds. He has written for the Guardian, the Financial Times, and the Sunday Telegraph; contributes to NPR's Radiolab; blogs for Psychology Today; and is a professor of psychology at Durham University in the United Kingdom.

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