Pieces of Light: How the New Science of Memory Illuminates the Stories We Tell About Our Pasts

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Shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

Leading psychologist Charles Fernyhough blends the most current science with literature and personal stories in Pieces of Light: How the New Science of Memory Illuminates the Stories We Tell About Our Pasts.

A new consensus is emerging among cognitive scientists: rather than possessing fixed, unchanging memories, they have found that we create recollections anew each time we are called upon to remember. According to psychologist Charles Fernyhough, remembering is an act of narrative imagination as much as it is the product of a neurological process.

An NPR and Psychology Today contributor, Dr. Fernyhough guides readers through the fascinating new science of autobiographical memory, covering topics such as: navigation, imagination, and the power of sense associations to cue remembering. Exquisitely written and meticulously researched, Pieces of Light brings together science and literature, the ordinary and the extraordinary, to help us better understand our powers of recall and our relationship with the past.

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About the author

Charles Fernyhough is an award-winning writer and psychologist. His books include A Thousand Days of Wonder: A Scientist's Chronicle of His Daughter's Developing Mind and the novels The Auctioneer and A Box of Birds. He has written for the Guardian, the Financial Times, and the Sunday Telegraph; contributes to NPR's Radiolab; blogs for Psychology Today; and is a professor of psychology at Durham University in the United Kingdom.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Harper Collins
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Published on
Mar 19, 2013
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780062237941
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Autobiographical Memory and the Validity of Retrospective Reports presents the collaborative efforts of cognitive psychologists and research methodologists in the area of autobiographical memory. The editors have included an esteemed group of researchers whose work covers a wide range of issues related to autobiographical memory and the validity of retrospective reports, reflecting the diverse traditions in cognitive psychology and survey research. The first part of the book provides different theoretical perspectives on retrospective reports, along with supporting experimental evidence. The second part of this volume focuses specifically on retrospective reports of behaviors, including recall of the frequency and intensity of physical pain, of the number of cigarettes smoked, of dietary habits, and of child support payments. The following sections address the cognitive processes involved in event dating and time estimation, and a discussion of the differences between self and proxy reports. The final part extends the discussion of autobiographical memories in different directions, including the impact of autobiographical memories on individuals' assessment of their current life, the assessment of social change on the basis of retrospective reports, and the issue of collective memories. This book, an indispensable and timely resource for researchers and students of cognitive psychology as well as to survey methodologists and statisticians, demonstrates the considerable progress made in understanding the cognitive dynamics of retrospective reports.
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On the publication of his tenth book, the smash hit, The God Delusion, a “resounding trumpet blast for truth” (Matt Ridley), Richard Dawkins was catapulted from mere intellectual stardom into a circle of celebrity thinkers dubbed, “The New Atheists”—including Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett.

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