The Memory Process

The Memory Process

Neuroscientific and Humanistic Perspectives

Edited by Suzanne Nalbantian, Paul M. Matthews and James L. McClelland

The convergence of neuroscience, philosophy, art, music, and literature offers valuable new insights into the study of memory.





The convergence of neuroscience, philosophy, art, music, and literature offers valuable new insights into the study of memory.

The Memory Process offers a groundbreaking, interdisciplinary approach to the understanding of human memory, with contributions from both neuroscientists and humanists. The first book to link the neuroscientific study of memory to the investigation of memory in the humanities, it connects the latest findings in memory research with insights from philosophy, literature, theater, art, music, and film.

Chapters from the scientific perspective discuss both fundamental concepts and ongoing debates from genetic and epigenetic approaches, functional neuroimaging, connectionist modeling, dream analysis, and neurocognitive studies. The humanist analyses offer insights about memory from outside the laboratory: a taxonomy of memory gleaned from modernist authors including Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and William Faulkner; the organization of memory, seen in drama ranging from Hamlet to The Glass Menagerie; procedural memory and emotional memory in responses to visual art; music's dependence on the listener's recall; and the vivid renderings of memory and forgetting in such films as Memento and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The chapters from the philosophical perspective serve as the bridge between science and the arts. The volume's sweeping introduction offers an integrative merging of neuroscientific and humanistic findings.

Contributors John Bickle, Jean-Pierre Changeux, Valérie Doyère, Yadin Dudai, Atillio Favorini, John Burt Foster, David Freedberg, Walter Glannon, Robert Stickgold, David Hertz, William Hirstein, Joseph LeDoux, Paul Matthews, James L. McClelland, Suzanne Nalbantian, Isabelle Peretz, Alan Richardson, Edmund Rolls, Séverine Samson, Alcino Silva, Barbara Tillmann, Fernando Vidal


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262014571 448 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 36 b&w illus., 1 table, 4 color plates


Suzanne Nalbantian

Suzanne Nalbantian is Professor of Comparative Literature at Long Island University and the author of Memory in Literature: From Rousseau to Neuroscience, Aesthetic Autobiography, and other books.

Paul M. Matthews

Paul M. Matthews is Vice President at GlaxoSmithKline in London, Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at Imperial College, London, and the coauthor of The Bard on the Brain: Understanding the Mind through the Art of Shakespeare.

James L. McClelland

James L. McClelland is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Computation at Stanford University. He is the coauthor of Parallel Distributed Processing (1986) and Semantic Cognition (2004), both published by the MIT Press. With David E. Rumelhart, he was awarded the 2002 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology for his work in the field of cognitive neuroscience on a cognitive framework called parallel distributed processing and the concept of connectionism.


  • [A]n intriguing and well-written book that provides a groundbreaking overview of diverse approaches to understanding memory that sets the agenda for an interdisciplinary approach to the topic.... We highly recommend this pioneering book to anyone interested in the nature of memory.

    Liane Gabora & Apara Ranjan



  • Memory has long been a topic of great interest to both neuroscientists and humanists, but the two groups have for the most part worked independently. The Memory Process bridges the gap by linking insights from leaders in both disciplines. This pioneering volume will help to set an agenda for the interdisciplinary study of memory, and is therefore essential for anyone interested in the nature of remembering and forgetting.

    Daniel L. Schacter

    William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Seven Sins of Memory

  • The last two decades have been stellar ones for neuroscience. In pursuing memory, a perfect subject for interdisciplinary dialogue, the editors of this breakthrough collection arrive at a new threshold of intellectual excitement and promise. Proponents of comparative approaches to literature and the arts will see why we should connect with crucial scientific developments; conversely, specialists in brain and mind research are encouraged to discover a treasury of data in artworks. Two orders of complexity are here brought together in exemplary creative fashion.

    Gerald E.P. Gillespie

    Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature, Stanford University