Most of us remember where we were and what we were doing on September 11, 2001. Why do most experiences leave little trace while some--even terrible ordeals that people wish they could forget--leave memories that last a lifetime? That is the mystery at the heart of this book. Drawing on fascinating research and case studies, James McGaugh, a distinguished neuroscientist, reveals that the key to understanding how memories are created may well be understanding how they are lost. He shows that lasting memories are not stored instantly. Why the delay? The author explains how the slow consolidation of memory has important adaptive consequences. It allows physiological processes activated by experiences to regulate the strength of the memory of the experiences. Emotionally arousing experiences induce the release of stress hormones, which act on the brain to influence the consolidation of our memories of recent experience. These findings have important implications for the controversial issues of post-traumatic stress disorder and repressed memory syndrome. From the prescientific writings of William James to the animal studies of the memory-research pioneers Pavlov, Thorndike, and Tolman, to the latest research of psychologists and neurologists drawing on PET imaging studies of the brain and laboratory experiments involving a variety of drugs, this succinct book provides a wealth of information.
In Memory and Emotion, James L. McGaugh gives a rich and insightful overview of modern memory research in the context of seminal discoveries of the past. Perhaps no one alive today is better suited to have written such a book... Although I too work in the field, I learned many things about its history from this a concise, well-written book, which nonexperts will also enjoy... superb. -- Joseph E. LeDoux American Scientist McGaugh, one of the world's leading experts on the neurobiology of memory and emotion... offers a basic history of the research on learning and memory...This is a fine book for academic and larger public libraries. -- Mary Anne Hughes Library Journal The book blends scientific research with personal anecdotes and even examples from literature for an absorbing read on the mysteries of memory. The Daily News of Los Angeles This readable book provides easy access to the dramatic progress that has taken place in the scientific understanding of memory. The writing style is engaging and the material fascinating. Highly recommended. Choice McGaugh has issued an invitation to adventure for any reader who has wondered about how our brains achieve one of their most extraordinary--and still mysterious--feats. -- Guy M. McKhann Cerebrum The book provides a succinct and lucid summary of many facts related to memory... [and] will almost inevitably reward readers with facts or points of view not previously considered. -- Robert W. Doty Quarterly Review of Biology