The Forgetting Machine: Memory, Perception, and the “Jennifer Aniston Neuron”
Neuroscientist Rodrigo Quiroga beguiles the reader with his fascinating accounts of how our very fallible memory machine attempts to function. In a series of nine short but absorbing chapters, much of the mystery of how the memory works is plainly described and illustrated. The writing is aimed toward the general audience with the intent to interest the lay reader in the dynamic, ongoing research of neurobiology. Traversing views of how the mind and memory function from ancient to contemporary times, Plato, Aristotle, Simonides, and Locke among others put in an appearance. More recent work by Luria, Ebbinghaus, Bartlett, and Loftus are a few that delve into the nature and unpredictability of memory. How memory is stored, retained, and enhanced, along with details of the different types of memory, serve as a background guide for the reader. The “Jennifer Aniston Neuron” that is part of the title refers the name of a new neuron found in the hippocampus that is capable of reacting to a concept. This area still requires clarification. While science fiction appears to transcend into modern reality, the final chapter deals with the distinction between androids and humans. It must be remembered that we are nothing but our memories.
Rodrigo Quian Quiroga