Memory lapse

July 4, 2013

In her generous review of Permanent Present Tense: The Man with No Memory and What He Taught the World, Suzanne Corkin’s enthralling study of the amnesiac Henry Molaison, Morgan Barense highlights the text’s “comprehensive and engaging review of how the field of neuroscience came to learn what we know about memory” (Books,  June).

Corkin indeed rightly covers the major contributions to the field from North America, but completely ignores the pioneering and influential work of Soviet scientist A. R. Luria (1902-77). He also investigated and treated a brain-damaged patient, known as “Zasetsky”, over an extended period. Luria opposed the view that memory is localised in specific areas of the brain and instead proposed a comprehensive functional system that extends into the cultural-historical world.

R. E. Rawles
Honorary research fellow in psychology
University College London

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