The Frontal Cortex

Memory and Radio Lab

So I guess this belongs under the shameless self-promotion tag – I helped plan the show – but the latest Radio Lab is on a topic near and dear to my frontal cortex. It’s about the dishonesty of memory, the way we are constantly recreating, reconsolidating and refining our sense of the past. Highlights include interviews with Joe Ledoux, Oliver Sacks and Elizabeth Loftus. The show also digresses into the necessity of protein synthesis for the remembering process, the possibility of implanting false memories and, in my favorite section, the case of an amnesiac who can only remember reality in 7 second bursts. Not even Beckett could imagine an existential condition that awful.


  1. #1 Ted
    June 13, 2007

    It’s dear to mine too so I dinged your post today.

  2. #2 Gary
    June 13, 2007

    Great piece, Jonah. Very stimulating. I’ve always loved RADIO LAB, and was delighted to see that you are a contributor. This idea of recreating memories every time we reimangine them is troublesome, however. It begs the question: where does does the memory come from? Would a model in which the memory is said to “thaw out” during remembering be more useful? The drug could be thought of as inhibiting only one side of thawing/refreezing process. For me, it also helps drive home the concrete nature of memories. Just a thought. Just forget about it if you don’t like it. 🙂

  3. #3 Jonah
    June 13, 2007

    I love the “thaw out” metaphor! I wish I’d used that in my book. Remembering, then, involves melting the original memory trace and slyly freezing it again in the brain. Call it the refrigeration/reconsolidation model of memory. Thanks, Gary.

  4. #4 Clayton
    June 16, 2007

    WOW, very interesting, thanks Jonah.

  5. #5 Clayton
    June 16, 2007

    I hadn’t heard of the study with anisomycin.

    Fot those who haven’t seen them there are two documentaries 13 years apart about Clive Wearing:


    Here’s part 2 filmed 13 years later.

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