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Town Hall Seattle: Science Series

Town Hall’s Science series is dedicated to understanding the world around us. Whether we’re hearing from a legendary physicist or a UW graduate student, the Science series explores math, biology, chemistry, the environment, and so much more.

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Apr 3, 2024

We all get frustrated with our inability to remember people’s names, find our keys, or recover a lost computer password. Fortunately, these experiences are not reflections of our broken brains, but the fact that the brain didn’t evolve the complex mechanisms of memory so that we could remember that guy we met at that thing. In fact, human memory is so much more than a personal archive or database. It’s a powerful and pervasive force that runs through all human experience and to a shocking degree makes us who we are – not just a record of the past, but as a determinative force in the present.

Dr. Charan Ranganath, a leading memory researcher, unveils the surprising aspects of human memory in his new book Why We Remember revealing how memory shapes our lives, impacts our decisions, and holds the key to understanding our past and planning for the future. This science narrative explores the unseen influence of memory on emotions, choices, and well-being, offering valuable insights for a broad audience, including those interested in staying mentally sharp, individuals dealing with trauma, parents, educators, and anyone seeking to make more mindful decisions. Drawing on over two decades of research, Dr. Ranganath’s book challenges common misconceptions about memory, delivering a paradigm-shifting perspective that’s both informative and life-changing.

Charan Ranganath is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and director of the Dynamic Memory Lab at the University of California at Davis. For over 25 years, Dr. Ranganath has studied the mechanisms in the brain that allow us to remember past events, using brain imaging techniques, computational modeling, and studies of patients with memory disorders. He has been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship.

Chantel Prat, author of The Neuroscience of You, is a Professor at the University of Washington with appointments in the Departments of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Linguistics, and at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. Her interdisciplinary research investigates how variable brain designs combine with our lifetime of experiences to shape the unique way each person understands the world and operates in it.


Buy the Companion Book

Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory's Power to Hold On to What Matters

The Elliott Bay Book Company