The scientific study of human memory is always evolving and very complicated. Charles Fernyhough provides stories from his own life. He also includes stories from other people. These stories make the subject of neuroscience interesting to me. I learned so many things about memory from this book. These are just some things that stand out. The process of remembering something is an active process. It is not merely an act of retrieval. It involves making connections with things that I already know. I learned that I am encoding new memories when I am actually doing something new. I learned that different parts of the brain process memories in distinct ways. The amygdala is the part of the brain that stores the emotion of a memory. The hippocampus helps people form connections to other memories. Fernyhough is a psychologist. He also has a degree in natural sciences from Cambridge. He shares his experience of feeling lost on the campus of Cambridge in one chapter. I find it amusing that such an educated man like Fernyhough can get lost on a campus that he lived on for seven years. I learned that locational and meaning based memory work together to help a person remember. Another chapter in this book is about his ninety-three year old grandmother named Martha. He interviews her to learn more about her experiences during World War II. I learned from this chapter that changing the context of an interview helps a person remember more things. He changes the language of the interview from English to Yiddish. He also brings in another woman around his grandmother's age. Changing these variables helped his grandmother unlock more memories. Fernyhough discusses a new form of hypnosis therapy called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. This therapy eases the trauma of a painful event. Fernyhough shares the story of a man who was involved in a car accident that caused the death of another man. This new therapy involves following a LED light, but it also centers around reframing the memories of the survivor of the accident so that the experience is not as painful as before. Fernyhough also makes many literary references to illustrate different aspects of memory. Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame is a book that illustrates the importance that smell has in triggering memories. The theme of Rudyard Kipling's poem "Lichtenberg" is about the power of smell triggers memories of an Australian soldier in the Boer War. I appreciate Charles Fernyhough for raising my interest in literature again. Pieces of Light is entertaining and informative book.
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