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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Memory and the Human Lifespan

Memory and the Human Lifespan - Steve Joordens These twenty-four lectures begin with a summary description of the processes at work in human "memory" by defining episodic, semantic and procedural memory. It was interesting to compare the descriptions of these components of memory with my own experiences of dealing with my own memory or lack of memory. After a couple lectures covering strategies to improve memory and discussion of rote memorization and the science of forgetting the lectures proceed to a deeper discussion of the different kinds of memory and how they function in more detail.

Then in lectures 11, 12, and 13 the subjects of (1) Sleep and the consolidation of memories, (2) Infant and early childhood memory and (3) Animal cognition and memory were covered. I was particularly impressed to learn that chimpanzees can beat the pants off humans (figuratively speaking) in a game of memory. A dramatic illustration of this can be seen at THIS LINK. Chimpanzees simply have better short term memory than humans. I don't mind conceding that dogs have a better sense of smell, but it hurts to lose to a chimp in a game of memory. (Some peer reviewers have questioned the video.)

The lectures then cover the various parts of the brain and their functions. There is a lecture describing recent attempts to model neural network brain functions with computer models. Another lecture discusses what can be learned from patients who have suffered some form of brain injury.

One lecture focuses on Alzheimer's Disease which is one of our most frightening diseases for both the sufferer and their family and caregivers. The lecture series is rounded out by discussions of sensations of "familiarity", déjà vu, recovered memories, false memories, and effects of aging.

In a final discussion of ways to preserve memories, I particularly noticed one recommendation that fit well with what I already do. That is to use writing and conversation with others reinforce things learned. That's what I'm doing when I write these reviews on Goodreads.com. Acquaintances of mine already know that in our conversations I often refer to interesting things I recently learned in things that I've read.