cover image The Invention of Memory: A New View of the Brain

The Invention of Memory: A New View of the Brain

Israel Rosenfield. Basic Books, $18.95 (229pp) ISBN 978-0-465-03592-2

Most people assume that they are able to remember faces, places and things because fixed images of them are more or less permanently stored in their brains. This is a big mistake, according to Rosenfield, who teaches at the City University of New York. Recent research studies surveyed here suggest that the brain is a creative generator of memories, not a repository: recollections are spliced from emotionally colored fragments and depend strongly on context. The author throws down yet another gauntlet by attacking the dominant view of the human brain as a computer with highly specialized regions controlling speech, movement, vision and other functions. Rosenfield (Freud: Character and Consciousness) guides the reader through the thickets of current debates. He supports a neo-Darwinian theory that holds that we construct perceptual maps through a sort of natural selection. (April)