Moonlight film scene swimming lesson

About this Course

Welcome to Understanding Memory. Someone once said that memory is fascinating because sometimes we forget what we want to remember, sometimes we remember what we want to forget, and sometimes we remember events that never happened or never happened the way we remember them. I want to show you how memory works, why it sometimes fails, and what we can do to enhance it. Based on my recent book – Memory and Movies: What Films Can Teach Us About Memory (MIT Press, 2015) – I will provide an introduction to the scientific study of human memory by focusing on a select group of topics that hold widespread appeal.

To facilitate your understanding, I will use clips from numerous films to illustrate different aspects of memory – describing what has been learned about memory in a nontechnical way for people with no prior background in psychology. Many of us love watching movies because they offer an unparalleled opportunity for entertainment, even if entertaining films are not always scientifically accurate. Still, I believe that we can learn a lot about memory from popular films if we watch them with an educated eye. Welcome once more. I am looking forward to showing you what movies can teach us about memory.

John Seamon Professor of Psychology Emeritus Wesleyan University

John Seamon

John Seamon

Professor Emeritus

John Seamon, Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Wesleyan University, received his B.S. from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He was a postdoctoral fellow at New York University and has taken sabbaticals at Yale University and Rockefeller University. Elected multiple times as Chair of Wesleyan’s Psychology Department, he was an Associate Editor of the journal Memory. His research has focused on understanding basic processes in human memory, including the use of technology to aid memory, exceptional memorizers, memory illusions and false memory, and implicit (nonconscious) memory. His most recent book is Memory and Movies: What Films Can Teach Us About Memory (MIT Press, August 2015). John was awarded Wesleyan University’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2009. For a complete listing of his books, research interests, and journal articles, please see his website: http://jseamon.faculty.wesleyan.edu.

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