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Where Did I Leave My Glasses?
The What, When, and Why of Normal Memory Loss

by Martha Weiman Lear

      Do you find it difficult to learn new material, yet you can still recite your home address from 30 years ago? Did you earn the nickname "short-term memory guy," or do you chalk up memory loss to a natural part of aging?  Whether we crack jokes or confide in friends about our failing memories, most of us search for real answers to allay our worries. Is a poor memory the automatic stamp of Alzheimer's Disease or dementia? Journalist and author Martha Weiman Lear tackles these questions in Where Did I Leave My Glasses? Searching for solutions, Lear interviews experts in neuroscience, neurology, psychopathology, psychiatry, nutrition, robotics, and neuropsychology.

Our memory processes information within three components. The first is acquisition, when you take in new information. Next, you store the new information. Retrieving the stored information is the last process. Many times, our frustration in remembering something occurs because we didn't store the new information from the start. For example, say you're reading at a local coffee shop with the noisiness of overhead music playing and shopper conversation buzzing. Later, you can't recall the chapters you read in the coffee shop, but lack of attention is the culprit: those distractions prevented the acquisition of new information. If you never take it in, you can't retrieve it later.

Lear discusses scientific findings peppered with humorous anecdotes. In seventeen chapters, Lear addresses recollection ("Say Hello to Whatsisname"), gender and memory ("He Remembers; She Remembers"), kinds of memory ("It's Not Ketchup: The 57 Varieties of Memory"), true memory concerns ("When Isn't it Normal?") and memory for tomorrow ("Beyond the Botox Generation"). The book is organized to read straight through, though readers can jump ahead to read a particular memory issue chapter. Readers will find answers to normal memory loss, memory disorders, and memory strategies. Memory loss has been the topic of conversation among my friends recently; this book answered some of our quirky questions as well as the serious ones. I enjoyed the humor and solid information in Where Did I Leave My Glasses? I definitely will use Lear's suggestions on ways to compensate for memory loss. I've already flagged the pages, so I won't forget.

The Book

Wellness Central / an imprint of Grand Central Publishing
February 2008
ARC for Hardcover
978-0-446-58059-5 / 0-446-58059-7
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The Reviewer

Jennifer Akers
Reviewed 2008
© 2008