How memory works

A man poses next to his book
In his new book, "Why We Remember," neuroscientist and psychologist Charan Ranganath reframes how we think about memory.
Courtesy photos

If you’ve ever struggled to remember where you set down your phone, or how you know the person you just ran into at the grocery store, you’re not alone. Everyday forgetfulness is a part of living — and of aging.

But for neuroscientist Charan Ranganath, more compelling than what we remember is why we remember.

“The human brain is not a memorization machine; it's a thinking machine,” he writes in his new book “Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory's Power to Hold on to What Matters.”

Ranganath, a leading memory researcher, joined MPR News host Kerri Miller on this week’s Big Books and Bold Ideas to talk about how memory works (spoiler: we’re not designed to remember everything) and how it shapes who we are today.


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