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Novelist and science writer Halpern (Four Wings and a Prayer) wades bravely into the morass of modern memory research to sort the truth from a wide assortment of hyperbole and promises and platitudes. The news is mixed: most of us won't develop Alzheimer's, but everyone will suffer some memory loss. After describing the different types of memory, Halpern gamely undertakes a series of brain scans used to reveal brain damage and tries diagnostic tests that measure memory through the ability to recall words, images and smells. Researchers have identified a gene closely linked with Alzheimer's, but drugs to treat or prevent memory loss are still far from reality, Halpern says, adding that for many drug companies, the success of a remedy is measured only by how quickly it moves off the shelves. Armed with a mix of hope and healthy skepticism, the author also examines claims that eating chocolate (among other things) or solving puzzles can improve brain function. So much of who we know ourselves to be comes from what we remember, Halpern writes, and her timely book offers a vivid, often amusing introduction to a science that touches us all. (May)
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*Starred Review* Halpern, author of Four Wings and a Prayer (2001), tackles memory, the most elusive of subjects, in her return to nonfiction after her powerful debut novel, The Book of Hard Things (2003). Goaded by the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and the seemingly inevitable equation—more years lived, more memory lost—Halpern puts herself on the line in this energetic inquiry into cutting-edge neurological research. As a test subject, she undergoes brain scans, including one that turns her radioactive; takes batteries of cognitive tests; visits the labs of leading neuroscientists; and tracks drug-development efforts. Halpern is rigorous in her explanations of the workings of the hippocampus, and impish in her critique of corporate-funded research (why is Mars, the maker of M & Ms, interested in neuroscience?). She incisively contrasts popular claims for the memory-boosting qualities of ginkgo biloba, blueberries, crossword puzzles, ballroom dancing, and chocolate with the painstaking work of scientists attempting to decode neurotransmitters and determine the genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Evincing a gift for perfect analogies and supple metaphors, mischievous humor, and righteous skepticism, Halpern is an exceptionally companionable and enlightening guide through the maze of memory maladies and the promising search for remedies. --Donna SeamanSee all Editorial Reviews
We've more "brain power" than we know about (or are capable of using at present). This analysis gives the reader more understanding on how the brain works (knowledge we... Read morePublished 17 months ago by C. Barker
If you are looking for a book to discuss scientific findings with any sort of care, this is not the book for you. Read morePublished on August 10, 2012 by A. Rivers
I enjoyed this book immensely. No matter how difficult the science being discussed, the prose is always lucid and entertaining. Sue Halpern writes with authority and good humor. Read morePublished on April 14, 2011 by Trumbo123
"CAN'T REMEMBER WHAT I FORGOT: The Good News from the Front Lines of Memory Research, by Sue Halpern (272 pgs., 2008)." The title gives a perfect summary of this book. Read morePublished on May 22, 2010 by R. A. Frauenglas
I was a bit disappointed with this book. I thought it would talk a lot more about the different types of memory we have and the different types of research that is being done about... Read morePublished on January 9, 2010 by D.J. Young
I bought this book because I felt the need to understand memory loss and/or dementia. Dementia is common in my family and I have always had a lot of concerns in regards to... Read morePublished on July 18, 2009 by KatyDid
Do you have trouble remembering names? Forget where you parked your car at the mall? Miss an appointment? Read morePublished on February 17, 2009 by beanbug
Theis book is about an area of importance to me. It lightly touches some very interesting concepts and ideas, but all too briefly. I was left wanting to know more . Read morePublished on September 10, 2008 by Malcolm R. Tyler
Gosh, I did forget what I forgot, I forgot the title of the book. All kidding aside, it's a book for everyone. It is not just for people who have a loved one with Alzheimers. Read morePublished on August 15, 2008 by Nena