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Publisher's Summary

What if your memory suddenly vanished, so that you could no longer summon recollections of anything at all? What if you couldn't even remember yourself - not your name, your school, where you worked, or even the face of the total stranger staring back at you from the mirror?
If all of your memories were gone, would "self" even have a meaning? The truth is that while you may think of human memory as a capacity - a way to call up important facts or episodes from your past - it is much, much more, a collection of systems that provide the continuity of consciousness that allows the concept of "you" to make sense, creating the ongoing narrative that makes your life truly yours. This intriguing series of 24 lectures by an honored researcher and teacher explains not only how the various aspects of your memory operate, but the impact memory has on your daily experience of life.
By understanding how the brain organizes and encodes information, you can better harness its extraordinary powers to fine-tune how it works for you and use this information to help reshape your very experience of being alive.
The lectures explore topics like: the different kinds of systems that make memory possible; how those systems work together to build and access memories of specific events, solve problems, learn basic tasks like brushing your teeth, or acquire the skills to play a musical instrument; the kinds of memory deficits that result when various parts of the brain are damaged or deteriorate; how memory shapes not only your experience of the past but also of the present, as well as your expectations of the future; and how your memory systems develop throughout your life.
©2011 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2011 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Douglas on 09-12-13

Another Fantastic Course!...

I have spent the last few weeks listening to nearly a dozen Great Courses lecture series on the brain, the mind and the ways that thought and memory help us to adapt to the world around us, making for a more pleasurable and useful life. I just finished Craig Heller's course on sleep, and since much of that was on sleep's effects on learning and memory, much of the material dovetails nicely here. It would also work very well listened to in conjunction with Steven Novalla's The Deceptive Mind, which deals with much of the same material, just from a slightly different angle. Joordens enlightens us with the way that memories are encoded and stored and the way memory enhances our lives and makes us who we are. He educates us in regard to how the memory process and memories themselves change with the age of the person remembering--or not remembering. He shares with us the amazing accuracy of our memories, but also the way they can be corrupted and changed. This latter is especially important with the recent resurgence of reports of false memories in regard to supposed "satanic ritual abuse" being implanted in patients by unscrupulous and/or incompetent "therapists" and horribly unscientific (and poorly written) books like the "Dr." Phil publicized 22 Faces or the older, but equally bad and deceptive Michelle Remembers. Do false memories exist? Of course they do. And they are incredibly easy to get started. You can even plant a false memory in yourself!--like I did. I have told a particular story in a writing class I do focused on Theories Of Morality in which I demonstrate the ignorance and bias back of racism. It is a true story--sort of. For 11 years, I had told the story as happening to me--when it really happened to someone else. It began innocently enough. I didn't want to begin a story with something awkward like "now this happened to someone else, but..." so for facility, I simply put myself into the narrator's position. After 11 years and at least 88 re-tellings, I REALLY BELIEVED IT HAD HAPPENED TO ME! I would have sworn in a court of law that it had. I could have passed a lie detector test. I still see it all very clearly in my head--HAPPENING TO ME!--even now that I know better. It took telling the story to the person it DID really happen to--and her claiming the story--for me to actually remember that it did not happen to me. But it is still there so clearly--a vivid technicolor movie in my head--with me as the star.

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46 of 52 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kathy Yong on 05-06-15

Engaging and interesting

Since I have a person with Alzheimer's in my family, I am interested in all resources that have to do with memory. The course had me engaged from the first chapter with real life examples , exercises and facts. I love the great courses, but I tend to take my time listening to them, however, this course I finished in 2 days. I actually plan on listening to this again soon.

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Mr. M. G. Helliwell on 03-22-17

Slow start but interesting

The first third of the lectures are a bit slow and repetitive in parts. However it soon picks up the pace and overall is very interesting and easy to listen to.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Metaltoe on 10-05-16


If you could sum up Memory and the Human Lifespan in three words, what would they be?

Fascinating, absorbing, useful.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Memory and the Human Lifespan?

Not applicable . . . it's a series of 30 minute lectures. All very interesting.

What does Professor Steve Joordens bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I think it is a great experience to listen to these lectures. Steve Joordans is likeable, natural and relaxed, never too serious. I enjoyed listening to him very much.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

not applicable!

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed all of it and learned a lot about how memory works and also tips to look after your memory processes.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mike on 02-27-17


A wonderful insight into what makes up our memory. Easy to understand and really entertaining series of lectures. I would recommend.

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