Sue Halpern has an emotional investment in her new book "Can't Remember What I Forgot: The Good News From the Front Lines of Memory Research." Her father experienced serious memory loss before his death. Doctors couldn't conclusively diagnose Alzheimer's, though it was considered. From the perspective of a frustrated and grieving family member, Halpern started her quest to learn what was happening in the world of memory research.
Halpern reviewed brain scans, visited chemistry labs and mice nurseries, attended scientific meetings and poked around at pharmaceutical companies. She even visited the candy company Mars, where food scientists are working on a chocolate product that they hope will have the ability to grow new neurons in the brain.
Much in Halpern's book is reassuring. Statistically, most of us will not get Alzheimer's. She explains reasons not related to Alzheimer's that explain why you can't remember the name of a book you recently read, or where you put your keys. You may want to refer to the post Dorian Martin wrote about Halpern's article for Time Magazine titled "Forgetting is the new normal."
Some of Halpern's explanations of different brain functions were fascinating, such as the scientific basis for wisdom, and the connection between depression and forgetfulness.
I have a nit to pick over her reference to the flat plains of North Dakota vs. the busy traffic of New York City - but that's personal (Hey, Sue - visit me and I'll show you how you can quickly get around a - rare - sinkhole on a prairie road!). My dear reader, you'll have to read the book to make sense of that.
"Can't Remember What I Forgot" is enjoyable reading. Even though Halpern spends much time in scientific settings with clinical researchers she manages to keep the prose personal and relevant.
The book sheds light on promising new theories, research that may or may not prove what the scientists hope, high tech solutions in developmental stages such as a memory chip for the human brain, and the answer to that all important question about whether a crossword a day will keep Alzheimer's away.
"Can't Remember What I Forgot," published by Harmony Books, New York (2008) is available at book stores and online.
Published On: May 21, 2008