The Memory Thief : And the Secrets behind How We Remember; A Medical Mystery

Lauren Aguirre

Lauren Aguirre (Narrator)

06-01-21

9hrs 20min

Abridgement

Unabridged

Genre

Nonfiction/Science

As low as $0.00
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06-01-21

9hrs 20min

Abridgement

Unabridged

Genre

Nonfiction/Science

Description

“Aguirre writes clearly, concisely, and often cinematically…providing an accessible yet substantive look at memory science." Science

Shortlisted for the 2022 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

The remarkable true story of a team of doctors who–through years of scientific sleuthing and observant care—discover a surprising connection between opioids and memory, one that holds promise and peril for any one of us.

How could you lose your memory overnight, and what would it mean? The day neurologist Jed Barash sees the baffling brain scan of a young patient with devastating amnesia marks the beginning of a quest to answer those questions. First detected in a cluster of stigmatized opioid overdose victims in Massachusetts with severe damage to the hippocampusthe brain’s memory centerthis rare syndrome reveals how the tragic plight of the unfortunate few can open the door to advances in medical science.

After overcoming initial skepticism that investigating the syndrome is worth the effort—and that fentanyl is the likely culpritBarash and a growing team of dedicated doctors explore the threat that people who take opioids chronically as prescribed to treat severe pain may gradually put their memories at risk. At the same time, they begin to grasp the potential for this syndrome to shed light on the most elusive memory thief of allAlzheimer’s disease.

Through the prism of this fascinating story, Aguirre goes on to examine how researchers tease out the fundamental nature of memory and the many mysteries still to be solved. Where do memories live? Why do we forget most of what happens in a day but remember some events with stunning clarity years later? How real are our memories? And what purpose do they actually serve?

Perhaps the greatest mystery in The Memory Thief is why Alzheimer’s has evaded capture for a century even though it afflicts tens of millions around the world and lies in wait for millions more. Aguirre deftly explores this question and reveals promising new strategies and developments that may finally break the long stalemate in the fight against this dreaded disease.

But at its core, Aguirre’s genre-bending and deeply-reported book is about paying attention to the things that initially don’t make sense—like the amnestic syndrome—and how these mysteries can move science closer to an ever-evolving version of the truth.

Praise

“Aguirre writes clearly, concisely, and often cinematically…providing an accessible yet substantive look at memory science." Science

“Moves with the roller-coaster speed of a first-rate suspense novel…A remarkable book.” Deborah Blum, author of The Poison Squad

“The blend of science and deeply felt humanity will leave readers thinking about this one long after they finish.” Publishers Weekly

“Aguirre imbues descriptions of the book’s doctors, researchers, and patients with humanity…This is a fascinating window into the search of one scientist to connect the dots and make a difference.” Library Journal

“Moves with the roller-coaster speed of a first-rate suspense novel…A remarkable book.” Deborah Blum, author of The Poison Squad

“An engrossing overview…offering invaluable lessons about what we can do to protect our own memories.” Lynne Kelly, author of The Memory Code

“An engaging, suspenseful portrait of medical sleuthing…a delightful and informative read.” Marc J. Kaufman, director of McLean Hospital’s Translational Neuroimaging Laboratory

“Aguirre beautifully brings to life the people behind the research in this excellent and compelling story of medical discovery.” Bradford C. Dickerson, director, Frontotemporal Disorders Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital

“A fascinating look at how brains remember and forget…through compelling stories of both patients and their doctors.” Andrea Buchanan, author of The Beginning of Everything

“An intimate tale of sweeping importance, one that travels the mysterious pathways of the mind. This is a story of human frailty, heroic perseverance and, ultimately, hope. The result is a deeply reported, remarkable narrative.” David Baron, author of American Eclipse

+ More
Details
More Information
Language English
Release Day May 31, 2021
Release Date June 1, 2021
Release Date Machine 1622505600
Imprint Blackstone Publishing
Provider Blackstone Publishing
Categories Book Club Favorites, Science & Engineering, Science, Book Club
Author Bio
Lauren Aguirre

Lauren Aguirre, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, built a career as an award-winning documentary filmmaker and science producer at the PBS Series NOVA. She has written for The Atlantic, Undark magazine, and the Boston Globe’s STAT News.

Narrator Bio
Lauren Aguirre

Lauren Aguirre, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, built a career as an award-winning documentary filmmaker and science producer at the PBS Series NOVA. She has written for The Atlantic, Undark magazine, and the Boston Globe’s STAT News.

Overview

Shortlisted for the 2022 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

The remarkable true story of a team of doctors who–through years of scientific sleuthing and observant care—discover a surprising connection between opioids and memory, one that holds promise and peril for any one of us.

How could you lose your memory overnight, and what would it mean? The day neurologist Jed Barash sees the baffling brain scan of a young patient with devastating amnesia marks the beginning of a quest to answer those questions. First detected in a cluster of stigmatized opioid overdose victims in Massachusetts with severe damage to the hippocampusthe brain’s memory centerthis rare syndrome reveals how the tragic plight of the unfortunate few can open the door to advances in medical science.

After overcoming initial skepticism that investigating the syndrome is worth the effort—and that fentanyl is the likely culpritBarash and a growing team of dedicated doctors explore the threat that people who take opioids chronically as prescribed to treat severe pain may gradually put their memories at risk. At the same time, they begin to grasp the potential for this syndrome to shed light on the most elusive memory thief of allAlzheimer’s disease.

Through the prism of this fascinating story, Aguirre goes on to examine how researchers tease out the fundamental nature of memory and the many mysteries still to be solved. Where do memories live? Why do we forget most of what happens in a day but remember some events with stunning clarity years later? How real are our memories? And what purpose do they actually serve?

Perhaps the greatest mystery in The Memory Thief is why Alzheimer’s has evaded capture for a century even though it afflicts tens of millions around the world and lies in wait for millions more. Aguirre deftly explores this question and reveals promising new strategies and developments that may finally break the long stalemate in the fight against this dreaded disease.

But at its core, Aguirre’s genre-bending and deeply-reported book is about paying attention to the things that initially don’t make sense—like the amnestic syndrome—and how these mysteries can move science closer to an ever-evolving version of the truth.

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