The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love

The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love

by Michael D. Lemonick


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In the aftermath of a shattering illness, Lonni Sue Johnson—a renowned artist who regularly produced covers for The New Yorker, a gifted musician, a skilled amateur pilot, and a joyful presence to all who knew her—lives in a "perpetual now."

Lonni Sue has almost no memories of the past and a nearly complete inability to form new ones. Remarkably, however, she retains much of the intellect and artistic skills from her previous life. As such, Lonni Sue's story has become part of a much larger scientific narrative—one that is currently challenging traditional wisdom about how human memory and awareness are stored in the brain.

In this probing, compassionate, and illuminating book, award-winning science journalist Michael D. Lemonick tells the unique drama of Lonni Sue Johnson's day-to-day life and explains the groundbreaking revelations about memory, learning, and consciousness her unique case has uncovered. This is his nuanced and intimate look of the science that lies at the very heart of human nature.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385539661
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/07/2017
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

MICHAEL D. LEMONICK is the Chief Opinion Editor at Scientific American. He has written more than 50 Time magazine cover stories on science, and has written for National Geographic, The New Yorker and other publications. This is his seventh book.

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Excerpted from "The Perpetual Now"
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Copyright © 2017 Michael D. Lemonick.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 A Textbook Case 14

Chapter 2 "Would Like to Meet Charlemagne" 23

Chapter 3 Where Does Memory Live? 33

Chapter 4 Princeton 45

Chapter 5 How Cells Remember 57

Chapter 6 Artist 69

Chapter 7 Flight to Cooperstown 78

Chapter 8 Buzz the Cowboy 94

Chapter 9 First Turning Point 103

Chapter 10 Second and Third Turning Points 129

Chapter 11 Pictures of Lonni Sue's Brain 169

Chapter 12 False Memory 179

Chapter 13 Challenging the Conventional Wisdom 190

Chapter 14 Maggi's Memorial 202

Chapter 15 The Opposite of Amnesia 212

Chapter 16 Other Amnesics 218

Chapter 17 The Saga of Henry's Brain 231

Chapter 18 What Does the Hippocampus Do? 242

Chapter 19 Lonni Sue's World 250

Epilogue 262

Acknowledgments 267

Author's Note 271

Notes 275

Bibliography 281

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