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Permanent Present Tense: The man with no memory, and what he taught the world Paperback – 5 Jun 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (5 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141044314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141044316
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 336,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Fascinating ... rich with implications for our understanding of the brain, our experience and what it means to be human (Steven Pinker, author of 'How the Mind Works' and 'The Stuff of Thought')

The poignant story of a man who became one of history's most studied patients (John Carey Sunday Times)

In this fine and moving book, Corkin pays tribute to a much-missed friend, as well as offering lucid accounts of the neuropsychological discoveries he made possible (Jonathan Rée Guardian)

About the Author

Suzanne Corkin is Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience and head of the Corkin Lab at MIT. The author of nine books, Corkin lives in Charlestown, Massachusetts.


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This is the story of one of the most famous characters in the history of psychology. Henry Molaison lost his memory in 1953 when he had radical surgery to help cure his serious epilepsy. His epilepsy was alleviated to a degree but more dramatically he lost his long term memory and could only remember things for a few minutes.

Pick up any psychology book on memory and you'll come across HM who contributed an enormous amount to the study of memory but his true identity wasn't revealed until his death in 2008. Henry participated in thousands of studies without ever remembering for himself what he did or the people he worked with. The author Suzanne Corkin is a neuroscientist who worked with him for nearly fifty years and yet each time they met it was as if it was the first time for Henry. This absorbing book brings HM to life as a person as well as exploring the nature and science of memory itself.

It's a fascinating insight into how memory works; what Henry can't remember but also what he could remember and learn, even with such a severe impairment. It's a slightly `geeky' book for anyone interested in the neuroscience or study of memory as there is a lot of information about the tests and procedures that Henry took part in but it's well written and moves easily between the technical and personal details.

Radio 4 serialised it recently and I suspect they took out much of the technical detail and focused on the human side, but that would leave only half a book. It's interesting to get an insight into how the science of psychology has changed and developed; tests that were impossible back in the early 60s suddenly become possible as Henry gets older and new information is constantly revealed.
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Surprisingly, a bit of a page turner. A man has an operation on his brain. The result is that his memory disappears. Not amnesia but memory. He cannot remember what happened 30 seconds ago. Though some things he can remember - how to walk, how to read (unlike some stroke victims who cannot even be re-taught how to read and write). I once had the upsetting job of pretending to a colleague with a brain tumour that he was still working - he would ask a question, I would reply whereupon he would ask me the same question. How did he "remember" the need to ask the question but not that he had the answer? How do some birds (with a brain the size of your thumb) apparently remember the location of last year's nest after flying thosands of miles? An unusual if thought-provoking book - what if this were me?
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This is a good introduction to the science of memory as it stands currently. The book is interesting, extremely well documented, but quite repetitious. The details about the experience of leading a life without laying down any new memories at all are fascinating, but the book could have been perhaps 1/3 shorter. It is written without any particular stylistic panache, but it is thoroughly referenced. As someone with an academic interest in memory, although from a discipline other than Psychology, I learned quite a few things, I enjoyed the read, and I expect to follow up some of the references. For a popular, non-academic reader, the book should still be interesting - although this is definitely not Oliver Saks standard!
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Fascinating book which, using HM's story reveals so much about how we convert short term memory into long term memory.
Psychology students, and Medics will find the detail intriguing.

However the undercurrent that i found most interesting was the narrative regarding Henry Molaison's life. His absolute trust in the medical fraternity, much misplaced. The questionable ethic of experimental neurosurgeons in the mid 20th century is frightening.
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For anyone interested in cognitive neuroscience/psychology etc, this book is for you. A wonderful and emotional insight into the most famous man of memory research from the expert who worked with him. A definite must read.
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I found the book fascinating. This is a reference in the study of memory.
The writing is simple and accessible to anybody else.
Definitely one of the best in the field.
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Superb and touching, the problems faced by this man suffering from an operation that did not go as planned were immense, yet he remained cheerful for most of his life.
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