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TIME The Science of Memory

TIME The Science of Memory

TIME The Science of Memory

Our memories are amazing and able to store some 2.5 petabytes of data—about 300 million hours of television programming. But how do we make memories, and why do we forget? What’s our memory like now, with our digital-era brains, and what can we do to build a better memory? All of these questions and more are answered in this new special edition from the editors of TIME, The Science of Memory. Herein, you’ll learn about the Time-Bending Magic of Smell, the Myths of Aging, and Why Sleeping on It Is Key for Memory. Activate your left brain, learning about the five key areas that aid our recollection—the Hippocampus, Amygdala, Prefrontal Cortex, Olfactory Bulb, and Hypothalamus—and your right brain, exploring why a whiff from your local restaurant may transport you back to your grandmother’s dining room. You’ll also learn Eight Unexpected Things That Mess with Your Memory, such as a high-fat diet and a vitamin B12 deficiency, as well as Six Funny Things You Can Do to Remember, like chewing gum or using a funny font—Comic Sans, anyone? All of this and more await inside: unlock the full potential of your mind with TIME The Science of Memory.

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United States
Meredith Corporation
$20.97(Incl. tax)

in this issue

3 min.
why we remember

FOR AN EXPERIMENT ON NAVIGATIONAL skills and natural selection, the setting—a Santa Barbara, Calif., farmers market on a Saturday morning—could not have been more Darwinian. So was the question at hand: How would spatial memory and adaptive behavior play out for a modern hunter-gatherer? To find out, a group of psychology professors posted themselves at the market’s entrance and enlisted shoppers as foragers. Eighty-six subjects were led along intentionally circuitous routes to pre-selected food stalls. There, they tasted the farmers’ goods, were guided to the center of the market and finally were given a special device to indicate the locations of the foods they had sampled. True to Paleolithic form, the shoppers easily identified the locations that provided goods with the most energy—olive oil, avocados and nuts—but struggled to place booths…

9 min.
the biology of memory

IT WAS AN UNLIKELY VENUE FOR AMERicans to receive a lesson in neuroscience. During the 2018 Senate hearings into sexual-assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, accuser Christine Blasey Ford delved into the workings of the human brain to explain why she could vividly recall the alleged attack, decades earlier, but not specifics, like the date of the party. At work were the levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain, said Ford, a professor of psychology. When activated, those hormones, key to the fight-or-flight reflex, encode memories into the hippocampus, a memory center in the brain. Among other things, the norepinephrine and epinephrine serve to lock in “the trauma-related experience,” explained Ford, “whereas other details kind of drift.” Cable-news commentators rushed to define the hippocampus for their audiences, but…

2 min.
know your terms: a memory glossary

Sorting out the different types of memories can be confusing, but they all essentially fall into one of two categories: either declarative or implicit. Within those classifications, memories are deemed either shortterm or long-term. Short-term memories last only up to about 30 seconds, while long-term memories can theoretically last forever, but they aren’t all created equal. DECLARATIVE MEMORY Also known as explicit memory. This is a system of conscious memories requiring effort, such as being able to tick off all the items on a grocery list, recalling material you’ve read in a book or article, or remembering a friend’s face or a phone number. There are three subsets: 1. Working memory A short-term system for storing and processing limited amounts of information for 15 to 30 seconds; after that, the memory begins to decay.…

3 min.
understanding the limbic system

Memory is often described with evocative, romantic terms, as sepia-tinted snapshots or as a scrapbook. But this vital function is not something you can tuck under your arm like a diary. Instead, it comes to life inside the limbic system, an umbrella of brain structures controlling emotions, drives and learning processes. How do we remember where we left our keys, how to hit a baseball or when to eat or sleep? Here is a look at some key areas and what each does. 1 / HIPPOCAMPUS The hippocampus is a seahorseshaped structure, embedded in the temporal lobe. This is where all conscious memories begin and where long-term memories are processed. According to Anthony Wagner, director of the Memory Lab at Stanford University, the parts of the brain that process the senses—taste, smell,…

7 min.
the time-bending magic of smell

IN THE SHADOW OF THE GRAND APARTment houses along Central Park West, an aroma of honeysuckle wafts through the thick summer air and suddenly I’m a boy again in our New Jersey backyard, where a cluster of white petals surrounds the grave of our fox terrier, who died when I was 10. A garlic breeze from a local restaurant carries me miles and years away to Boston’s North End, dining with my wife-to-be at an Italian place where the owners lived in back and they served up the best chicken parm ever; a cinnamon stick conjures the late, lamented Café Figaro in the Village, where I’ve grabbed a window table overlooking Bleecker Street, watching till she rounds the corner from dance class and we sip cappuccinos into the night. We’ve all…

3 min.
the power of a madeleine

No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin…. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I was conscious that it was connected with the taste of tea and cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could not, indeed, be of the same nature as theirs. Whence did it come? What did it signify? How could I seize upon and define it? And I begin again to ask myself what it could have been, this unremembered state which brought with it no logical proof of its…