Can't Remember What I Forgot: The Good News from the Front Lines of Memory Research

Front Cover
Crown/Archetype, May 6, 2008 - Science - 288 pages
1 Review
An essential behind-the-scenes foray into the world of cutting-edge memory research that unveils findings about memory loss only now available to general readers.

When Sue Halpern decided to emulate the first modern scientist of memory, Hermann Ebbinghaus, who experimented on himself, she had no idea that after a day of radioactive testing, her brain would become so “hot” that leaving through the front door of the lab would trigger the alarm. This was not the first time while researching Can’t Remember What I Forgot, part of which appeared in The New Yorker, that Halpern had her head examined, nor would it be the last.

Halpern spent years in the company of the neuroscientists, pharmacologists, psychologists, nutritionists, and inventors who are hunting for the genes and molecules, the drugs and foods, the machines, the prosthetics, the behaviors and therapies that will stave off Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and keep our minds–and memories–intact. Like many of us who have had a relative or friend succumb to memory loss, who are getting older, who are hearing statistics about our own chances of falling victim to dementia, who worry that each lapse of memory portends disease, Halpern wanted to find out what the experts really knew, what the bench scientists were working on, how close science is to a cure, to treatment, to accurate early diagnosis, and, of course, whether the crossword puzzles, sudokus, and ballroom dancing we’ve been told to take up can really keep us lucid or if they’re just something to do before the inevitable overtakes us.

Beautifully written, sharply observed, and deeply informed, Can’t Remember What I Forgot is a book full of vital information–and a solid dose of hope.

From the Hardcover edition.

What people are saying - Write a review

Can't remember what I forgot: the good news from the front lines of memory research

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Halpern's three-year inquiry into research on memory, aging, and Alzheimer's disease is an investigation of modern brain science rendered in creative nonfiction. Halpern gets to know a prominent ... Read full review


Chapter Two Certainty
Chapter Three Diaqnosis
Chapter Four Normal
Chapter Five Inheritance
Chapter Six The FiveYear Plan
Chapter Seven Gone to Mars
Chapter Eight Siqnal to Noise
Chapter Nine Input Output

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

SUE HALPERN received her doctorate from Oxford University in 1985 and first began teaching at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is the author of Four Wings and a Prayer, Migrations to Solitude, and two books of fiction. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Condé Nast Traveler, and The New York Review of Books, among other publications. She lives in Ripton, Vermont, with her husband, writer Bill McKibben, and their daughter, Sophie, and is a scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College.

From the Hardcover edition.

Bibliographic information