How We Remember and Why We Forget
Email this review


 A scientist with the knack of transforming the complex and abstract into the simple and concrete engagingly explains what science now knows about memory. Rupp, who has a doctorate in cell biology and biochemistry, is also no stranger to world literature. She draws on anyone who suits her purposes, spiking her text with quotes from Cervantes and George Carlin, Machiavelli and Agatha Christie. And she has a creative touch with chapter titles, too. Who can resist such provocative ones as ``Isaac Newton's Dinner and 15,000 Chinese Telephone Numbers'' or ``Monsters in the Lime Tea''? Rupp is clearly thoroughly at home with her subject, and she seems to delight in making the reader share her interest. First she tackles what memory is and the various kinds of memory, taking the reader on a quick tour of the brain to show where memory resides and how it is processed. She deftly summarizes the work of numerous researchers on both animal and human subjects and touches briefly on that most controversial of subjects, recovered memories. Here the good news is that objective analysis with PET scans may one day be able to separate false memory from the true. Rupp's consideration of the intriguing flip side of memory-- forgetting--leads her naturally to a discussion of ways to counteract forgetfulness. Memory strategies can be learned, she notes, and her final chapters offer techniques for remembering numbers, facts, and peoples' names. Some of the mnemonic devices she describes seem more work than the subject matter warrants (to recall the names of the Seven Dwarfs, recite the sentence ``Big Dogs Dine Greedily on Ham Sandwiches and Soup''), but the entertainment level remains high throughout. A veritable textbook thoroughly disguised as a diversion. (8 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-517-70321-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1997