Daniel Schacter

The Science of Memory Forgetting and Remembering Publication date : September 1, 2003

How does memory work? What is now known about the foundations and mechanisms of memory during a lifetime? To explain and review recent knowledge on the subject, Daniel Schachter examines the miscues and minor memory malfunctions that appear routinely in everyday life.
Sometimes we forget the past, sometimes we distort it. Some memories can haunt us for years. Without memory, we would be unable to accomplish a vast number of everyday tasks. All of the following rely on memory: remembering conversations with friends; recalling family holidays; remembering appointments and shopping lists; recalling the words that enable us to communicate; remembering the foods we like or dislike; acquiring the necessary skills to accomplish our jobs. Memory is so omnipresent that it is regarded as secure — until the moment when an oversight or distortion calls our attention to it.
Just like the seven deadly sins, the seven memory sins — transience, absent-mindedness, blocking, misattribution, suggestibility, bias and persistence — appear routinely in everyday life, often with dire consequences. Schachter illustrates the nature of these malfunctions with a series of striking examples. He reveals how they should be understood and explains how to attenuate or avoid their harmful effects.

"A tour de force. No one can better explain for the general reader the new insights on memory and its distortion than Daniel L. Schachter, one of the most exciting and original students of the biology of memory."
Eric Kandel, Nobel Laureate in Medicine

"To a very great extent, our memories are ourselves. The Seven Sins of Memory is a gripping and thought-provoking exploration of this eternally fascinating topic. Written by one of the world’s experts, it presents startling examples from the news and everyday life and explains them using an original and elegant theory."
Steven Pinker, author of The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works.

Daniel L. Schachter is chairman of the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. He is renowned as on of the world’s foremost memory experts.