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Memory: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – December 15, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0192806758 ISBN-10: 0192806750 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (December 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192806750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192806758
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.4 x 4.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Dr. Jonathan Foster is a Clinical Professor affiliated with Curtin University, the University of Western Australia and the Telethon Institute. He works part-time in the Neurosciences Unit, Health Department of WA and in Private Practice. He has over 25 years' experience working in the field of memory and memory disorders, with over 100 peer-reviewed publications.

More About the Author

Dr Jonathan Foster has extensive experience as an evidence-based clinical neuropsychologist, research scientist, writer and broadcaster gained in Europe, North America and Australia. His written works have been undertaken for a range of international, peer-reviewed academic and professional journals, popular magazines (e.g. New Scientist) and general resources (e.g. encyclopaedias). He continues to work as a clinical academic based in Perth, Western Australia where he also appears regularly in the media discussing his research work and clinical work. He maintains an active public & private clinical practice.

Jonathan Foster has to date authored or edited 6 books (in reverse chronological sequence):

Nutrition and Mental Performance: A Lifespan Perspective - Leigh Riby, Michael Smith & Jonathan K. Foster (2012)

Memory: A Very Short Introduction - Jonathan K. Foster (2008)

Psychology (BPS Textbooks in Psychology) - Miles Hewstone, Frank Fincham and Jonathan Foster (2005)

Memory - Anatomical regions, physiological networks and cognitive interactions. The Cortex Books - Jonathan K. Foster (2004)

Neuroimaging and Memory: A Special Issue of 'Memory' - Jonathan K. Foster (1999)

Memory: Systems, Process, or Function? (Debates in Psychology) - Jonathan K. Foster and Marko Jelicic (1999)

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Philip H. on December 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As you'd expect from a book that's meant to be a concise and introductory text on memory, this book covers the highlights of memory research from the past century. But it also leaves a lot unsaid and portrays a very specific (but not necessarily universally accepted) perspective on memory.

As a full-time memory researcher, of course I'm going to gripe about *something* not being in the book. And, in truth, Foster does a pretty remarkable job of packing a lot of material into a tiny book. The book covers different memory systems (short- and long-term memory), influential theories like levels-of-processing, as well as plenty on false memory. And Foster rightly hammers home the point that memory is not a passive storage system.

That said, I was disappointed with major sections of the book and I think it perpetuates myths and misconceptions about memory. For instance, the sections on long, short, and working memory present a "systems-based" view of memory, where memory is divided into distinct modules which presumably have different principles. While this view should certainly be mentioned on any book on memory, Foster never mentions that this view has been challenged repeatedly: the distinction between long/short/working memory may be a false one that psychologists have foisted on the public. Also, the evidence for subsystems of working memory like the phonological loop, typically in the form of articulation span, has been widely challenged (if not completely discredited). It's not that Foster should consider every article ever written on memory -- that's impossible -- but the systems-based view has enjoyed a wide popularity that is now fading in favor of functionally-oriented views of memory.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on December 19, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You are, as this book tries to make clear, your memories. That is, your personal identity is so intricately based on the sum total of your memories that it makes it impossible to have any idea of what a "self" may mean without resorting to understand how memory works. Since we take the memories we have to be the basis of our identity, it can be very hard to imagine that this memory has some serious limitations and ways that it can deceive us. A scientific study of memory is about a century and a half old, and over time we have managed to understand quite a bit about the inner working of human memory. The two main types of memory, short term and long term, are familiar to us from everyday life, but what is not too familiar is how short term memories get converted to the long term ones. This book gives an excellent account of this process, as well as how stable long term memories can be.

The book discusses the neurological basis of memory. All our memories are (at least for the foreseeable future) stored in our brains, and different parts of brain have a different function when it comes to the storage and retrieval of memories. A demage to any of those brain centers can have very serious and debilitating consequences for our normal cognitive functions.

A chapter of the book is dedicated to memory impairments, as well as to some reliable techniques for boosting one's memory. It also explains that there is an upper limit to how much we can remember. And that's a good thing - those few unfortunate individuals who could remember everything (mnemonists) ended up cluttering their minds with absolutely useless information, and normal human activities that we take for granted became impossible for them. It turns out, that we are not just what we remember: we are also what we forget. And that's worth keeping in mind.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 11, 2012
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This book was easy to follow and stay interested in.

It was concise, yet thorough (as thorough as one could reasonably expect an introduction to be). It hit on all the major topics involved in memory.

The only thing I might've wanted to see covered more was the anatomy of memory - what brain structures these processes were taking part in.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chandra on December 5, 2013
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Nicely written

Very precise

Targets the objective intelligently

What else, must be read between the lines to extract the maximum.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sean on January 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A great overview of major concepts of memory that can stand alone as a quick, yet thorough introduction to this vast topic.
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