tv Lauren Aguirre The Memory Thief CSPAN November 23, 2021 11:53am-12:52pm EST
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and entries must be received before january 20th, 2022 for accommodation rules, tutorials or how to get started, visit our website at student cam dot org. >> i'm very excited to introduce tonight's speaker science your list lauren aguirre used every medium for pdf nova including documentaries podcast or farm video series interactive games, blogs and more so articles on memory and on boston globe stats and magazine in scientific american. in this book in particular was reported by a grant from the alford foundation program in public understanding of science and technology and tonight lauren aguirre is joined and the author of the poison - and from
the brain and so much more and deborah now serves as the director of the night science journalism program at mit. tonight the two will be discussing lauren aguirre's debut book "the memory thief" held by mac in science magazine as extensively researched and accepts the bowl. and tonight deborah praises the book saying that "the memory thief" would be a roller coaster a suspense novel for simultaneously offering a deeper compassionate and an insightful look at the understanding of what makes and breaks in the memory and we are so pleased to have them both here with us for this event so without further ado, the digital podium as you are and lauren aguirre. >> thank you i'm so honored to be here in i part because of suh a fan at the harvard bookstore because of such a fan of this book read and when i first got a look at your book, i found
myself deeper because a lot of times i can just look at a book and go on to other things but i got into your stories that it actually interfered with my work with my journalism program a. so this is a book i'm very happy to be talking to you about this book and i want to start by saying a book reminded me of this is sometimes we assign his, you will talk about the brain is a black box and is so mysterious. and it's even more mysterious part of what happens in the brain and your book reminded me of both the mystery and of the detective work that goes on to try to solve it. so with you reading it a brief
excerpt in sort of illustrating some of the detective awesomeness and then go on to the conversation. >> great. so this is a scene from early on in the book. on the first friday of october, she leaned forward in the chair and stared at the mri scan on his monitor and he is looking at the brain of young man admitted to the hospital last night and the images are so strange and beautiful that he knows something has to be wrong. glow he says out loud was empty office, this is weird braided and against the dark back onto the rest of the brain are to seek shaped structures on either side pocket ofru the food cavity and together, they make up the hippocampus, the place and holds the keys to memory and the intent glow is a distressing signal from million of sales in
some mysterious force has laid waste to just this tiny region leaving the rest of the brain unharmed. and he looks at h his door to te quiet waiting room up on this on the forest the hospital medical center in burlington, massachusetts just outside of boston. and then he looks back at the monitor. last night's phone call from the hospital, requesting permission to transfer thistr patient it, suddenly makes more sense printed this 22 -year-old and recently over destiny was dragging one leg and repeatedly asking his mother if he was dying. this is more hospital that handled emergencies like aat broken wrist or appendicitis but when patients with complex conditions are unexplained symptoms command, the sample often sendxp them over to lady, facility that has hundreds of specialists and more equipment. in a high quality image in front of him, he can see what the staff could not and it by the
patient is acting strangely pretty intent years of medical training, parish had reviewed thousands of scans, brains trump and from alzheimer's disease and mbrain started with tiny open blood vessels and with tumors in different sizes shapes in the locations & alzheimer's disease in every case no matter what the was pretty like it clear what was going on but whae sees onhe the screen in front of him a strange and alien and belonging it to know category that he can imagine and it looks like someone took a page out of his medical school textbook and deliberately highlighted the brains summarys center. he looks at the mri and a schooling up from the base of the skull through this familiar soft grades brain structures until it came into view and it seems certain that this patient will fail the memory test given today and the damages triggered
his interest in strange cases and rare brain diseases. and he believes more in transcendent destiny but still, he thinks that it's almost a years of studying obsessions has guided him directly to this moment sitting in his office, looking at this startling image. ... and i'm wondering ifef before e go any further you can talk a little bit about who he is and explain a a little bit of somf this way that he starts building this sort of mystery detective
part of your book. >> okay. so first i shouldka say that jed barrish is a friend of mine and we sort of shared a fascination with weird brains because i have a somewhat weird brain. i suppose we all do.o. but i thought his opinion for neurological problem usingem extremely helpful. so barrish is really, he's a puzzle solver. he also hasg been trained as an epidemiologist. he really looks for patterns and tries to explain, , well, when u see something new, he is sort of a disease is detected or symptom detective in addition to being a neurologist. when you see something you how to make sense of it? so for him when he saw this first patient that i described, it was well, this is weird, and this is what we know about what happened to him. at the really wasn't enough to go on it, but dissent would actually cause that veryha unusl
damage. it wasn't until he saw the second case when he noticed a link and he said okay, there's a link with both of them with heroin use but people have been using heroin for decades. what's changed? well, what is in 2012 fentanyl had started to work its way into the drug supply in massachusetts. so that was the new thing. really the rest of the book he's setting out to find out if his hunch is right, and it's much harder than it would seem on the surface of it to figure that out. re equally both puzzled and fascinated by this particular syndrome, mostly in massachusetts. the story isn't only set in massachusetts but it's heart is really with this ministry that begins here, i say because i'm living in boston. >> yes. it's also a very interesting story because it's kind of
science on a shoestring budget or really no budget. because it's this weird syndrome that doesn't fall in anyone's particular area. it's not part of someone's research project. crosses two areas, addiction and opioids and memory. part of his job was really roping in other people who read the expertise that he didn't have and the resources that he didn't have. so that was sort of years of late-night e-mails to anyone he could think of who might be able to help and cajoling and badgering until he was able to pull together people who could help him solve the mystery. >> yes, that was one of the things i like so much about it is you start saying all these different people have different parts of the puzzle and trying to connect the dots essentially in making this work.
let's back up a little bit though because one of the things, and this struck me again in looking, in reading your book, is that our understanding of memory, i'm not sure this is a good thing or a bad thing, and you can contradict me, too, but it strikes me reading your book and from other books i've read that much of our understanding of memory comes from injury injury to the brain, injury to memory. if we don't go and seek that in humans, so a lot of times, and this is why his fascination with these two cases to start with, and another gets to be more, is so interesting, but a lot of time it's really just one case. but to go backwards in history a little bit and just to talk both about the hippocampus itself and why it's so important but a single case, one of the moment in history that you reference is
very famous case in neuroscience of hbm. and i wonder, because i was such a breakthrough moment in memory if you talk love it about that and also a little bit about how they led us to the central feature of this sort of group of detectives who are looking at damage to the hippocampus to recognize the role of the hippocampus in memory? >> so the famous story of hm, was later revealed to be henry melissa congressman hice in this are talking about, he had really terrible epilepsy and they couldn't treat it with medicine and finally in a last-ditch effort to save him, a service wash buckling surgeon decided to remove both of his hippocampus. it was good reason to think that that might work because
hippocampus very bold global region can break citable and very prone to seizures. but no one knew what it did. and if you think about it, removing like both of the whole brain structure, it's got to do something, it was risky but they were hoping to save his life. it wasn't until he woke up in the hospital and kept asking his mother with a bathroom was, that they realized they had really hurt his memory. so he was studied extensively for the rest of his life by brenda milner and suzanne corrigan and others who really were able to tease out, we talk about memory, memory that most of us talk about that we care about is a memory that our hippocampus shapes and creates. it's been memory for things that you know you know, whether it's events or facts or episodes from your life that are stories that you can remember.
he lost the ability to create the new memories of that sort but he was able, he had some procedural memory meaning he could learn how to do things that were like motor skills but he would never like recognize another new person. he didn't know suzanne corrigan despite having worked with her for decades. so yes his misfortune was a boon to science. >> yes, and it also, and i'm glad you talk about hippocampus itself are obviously there's a number of kinds of memories, right, we do look at the hippocampus as this kind of central structure, and it's not just because of agm. it's because of work that followed in that sense, but there's another character in your book, owing and i should
say what i came up in science journalism hm's name was not revealed. how is a more recent decision and a lot of times in these kinds of journal scientists will protect dead denny of a test subject by just using their initials. so to this day my hippocampus insist on calling him hm. i've always felt so sorry for him, right? he's part of a group of cases in which damage to the brain, this is not the same as thing but there was a famous case of a worker name phineas gage who had an iron bar that accidentally was forced right through l cortex of his brain and a loud, that injury again come single injured but allowed people to start to recognize what part of the brain help with impulse
control. so hm was usual influential but you actually follow a patient, evan thach come and allow this, he writes essay, invited essay at the end of your book, owing, you draw some parallels to hm in a way his condition helps us understand memory and how injury affects memory. and it went if you would just talk a little bit about him as a case study, not only in what we see in these glowing amazing images of the hippocampus that what we see in the way that these kinds of injuries affect people's lives. >> he's a remarkable person and also grateful that he was willing to share his story with me for the book. so he overdosed after 18 months of sobriety on fentanyl, and woke up in hospital with this
injury. but because he had actually long cared about memory and it studied memory in college, he understood immediately when the doctor said you injured your hippocampus what it meant for him. and to this day he still can't remember where he parked his car. he can't remember that his best friend might've broken up with his girlfriend the day before. but because he is an incredibly organized person and has incredible executive function key actually has managed to rebuild his life and has a job and takes classes at a community college. he's really just a testament to, not to sound hallmark card, but resilience and the ability to carry on and is also very generous in agreeing to participate in this research at the university of california san
francisco memory and aging center. and so there they learned, they did some very tailored mri scanning through a strange confluence of events come here actually had an mri scan just before his overdosed. so they knew what his brain look like before the overdosed, and there was imaging done right at the time of the overdosed that showed that glowing image i described before, just the hippocampus. then he came back to ucsf and they measured the volume of his hippocampus and you get short by 10% which is much as a 60-year-old would lose in a decade. they. they also did this very detailed testing of his memory and other cognitive functions. and again what is called episodic memory, is explicit memory for numbers or events, he scored on par with someone with alzheimer's disease but it the
rest of his cognitive function is perfect. what his case really showed is that fentanyl can zero in on just this one structure in the brain, just the hippocampus, and damage it. this was completely unrecognized -- actually i'll correct myself. there was an anesthesiologist who did recognize that and then research for 20 years and finally gave up because no one wanted to fund it anymore. but it was really not at all well known. so now the question becomes, now we know that opioids can damage the hippocampus, can we turn the inside around and use that knowledge to find ways to protect the hippocampus? >> and about 20 in on that point that, that sort of precise point of mechanism of injury for a minute and then open it back up to other issues in memory, leading as may be even to as you
mention the comparison between the memory affects that are comparable to alzheimer's. so lots and lots of people have been prescribed fentanyl, or you know, abused illegal versions of the same, and yet we don't see an epidemic of memory loss in an exposure to person one in one kind of way, you know. and numbers, even in your bood there's probably more since the book, you research the book, but still were not talk about what anyone to talk about is like, i don't, not a pandemic but an epidemic, right? do we and has the research been done, each as i always find this part of what, in this i think
relates to alzheimer's, what causes the damage to memory? two people understand that, why this is so case specific, what is about fentanyl? >> there's two questions in the. one is what causes damage and in the second is why does it not happen to most people. >> yes. >> so the first one how does it cause the damage it's a little bit wonky but basically there's two main classes of neurons in the brain. there's a the excitatory neurs we think about that they get enough input and a fire in the past the message along. and those represent the majority of neurons in the brain, but they are also called inhibitory neurons and their job is to actually manage everything. they are like the bouncers at the bar and to keep things under control. so when they are out of commission you have chaos, and that's what happens with fentanyl, is it locks onto these specific opioid receptors on the inhibitory neurons and it shuts
them down. so they're they are outn and then the excitatory neurons are firing wildly out of control and burning up more energy than they have, this is compounded by what people use opioids, not in a hospital setting, let's say, it suppresses the drive to breathe. they are also usually somewhat hypoxic so that just exacerbates the problem because the not getting enough oxygen to this vulnerable structure. that's the idea of the mechanism of damage, but why it doesn't happen to most people is definitely still a mystery. it could be a genetic predisposition that is rare. it could be a prior use. it could be, for example, oh one had used drugs since age 11 -- owing -- but had been sober for your and after wasn't the prolonged use followed by sobriety, followed by a
traumatic overdosed that was a problem for him? is it vascularization? is it had different people's hippocampus is that in different ways by the blood supply? that they really don't know and that will be very hard to tease out just because there are so few people, and just get right there are probably many more people than we realize but even so there are few. i also want to speak to your point about let's say fentanyl is used in anesthesia everyday and 80-90% of surgeries 90% surgeries and clearly this doesn't happen to those people. but those people are two things, they are supported with but they also, that drug is given with another drug that counteracts the sort of excitatory effect of fentanyl. protective. >> that's reassuring. but also the kind of, and i think it's a question that goes way beyond this and to all of
the different diseases and responses to diseases that we see, you know, what's the individual response and what is the more general response. so still many mysteries involved here, which leads me to ranch out into other issues of memory. let's talk about memory and then go and sort of expand this to something that probably people think of as an epidemic, which is alzheimer's, , so diseases of memory, right? which is the more we understand memory and how it works and what triggers injury and how we best treat that injury, you can generalize out way beyond well, this person abuse fentanyl to, well, what about this vast series of unknowns about memory?
that would include our understanding of alzheimer's, right? >> and i don't know if myself i would describe alzheimer's as an epidemic because it's always, isn't just that we are able to do better diagnostics and so we are more aware of this specific condition, but certainly alzheimer's and other dimensions that affect memory, why do they matter so much? and i think it's not just about daily function but i also, this gets back to the core of the memory issue, are we our memories, right? it's great to know where you left the car and all of the sort of navigate through daily life stuff but in the more existential who are we, are we, in fact, our memories, why does this matter so much? >> yeah.
we are our memories. i look back briefly to the neurological episode i referenced in the beginning because it's part of what drew me to this story is i had an episode where i lost my memory for a couple of minutes, meaning i had no idea where i was, what century it was, or who i was. like if you asked me my name at that moment i couldn't have told you. there was no connection to the past, the present, the future, and that was deeply, deeply terrifying because yes, without your memories you actually don't feel like anyone. i want to sort of softened that a little bit because they're still, even someone with severe memory problems still feels love and connection. it's not sort of as black and white as i described it, but memory is also, we think it's about remembering the past and who we are. but it's also about imagining
the future. this is one of the more interesting experiments that ari talked about in the book, which is a woman eleanor maguire in london worked with people with severe amnesia, also damage to the -- she found conscious all of them come about the day at the beach, like look around, what do you see? so that people who didn't have the memory problems told a whole story, there's a boat going by and i hear the seagulls and lots of details. the people with the damage to the hippocampus, there is nothing. i mean, they know conceptually that there's white sand and a blue sky, but that's really all they can say when she probed seeman says what else do you see? they say that's it, , i'm kind f floating. they can't imagine something. they can't create a new scene out of their mind, and that's
part of what makes us so human in who we are is imagining things that don't exist yet and rejecting yourself into the future. it's as much about having a future as having a past. >> that such an interesting point. i hadn't thought about that come the sort of backwards and forwards nature of life regarding memory. when we look at, i'm sort of making a huge leap over to the larger memory related diseases by opening up the alzheimer's box here. if we look at the complications and effects of alzheimer's, do you yourself see parallels and how alzheimer's affects the brain and how this particular condition affects the brain, , r is it more or less here is another issue in which we see
the way memory is so central to our lies and we don't understand best have to protect our memories? >> yeah. well, there are some parallels which i wasn't aware of between this, , what's called the opioid associated syndrome and alzheimer's, which was a really clear very early on except for the fact they both target hippocampus. so in most forms of alzheimer's disease, the hippocampus is where the damage first begins. so that's why in most cases memory loss is the first sign, and then the damage spreads out from there. but going back to those excitatory and inhibitory neurons and that in balance between them that can be damaging, that is also known to be a feature of both aging and especially in the face before alzheimer's disease.
>> the results are. >> are good, the fda could approve this drug and that would happen in late 2021, if it works. so it's fairly far along and, of course, easier when you're starting with a drug that is known and you don't have to go through all of this testing to, you know, determine if it's safe or not. and i want to come back at some point and i expect there might be some interest in -- in the issue of how the fda decides to approve treatments. let me ask you, i mean, at this point, i don't -- both membrane and going back to analogy. you know, i wouldn't say that we've written the book on how
memory works. you can contradict me. you know more about this. what causes are triggers or fully plays roles in memory loss either. yes? >> you are absolutely right. we have not written the book on either of those things. you know, there's no hammer of truth and every finding comes with asterisks and it's always incomplete. >> that's one of the reasons why i love the stories of scientists who recognize the importance of the henryses and the owens and the all of these different case studies which remind because,
you they say something and we have individual very response but we also have universals about how the brain works. so going back to alzheimer's for a minute, when you think about alzheimer's and the way that it affects memory, how do you -- i mean, what do you see as the primary loss, what's your best understanding of some of the mechanisms and -- and i'm going to very shortly start, we have a few questions already in the q&a and i don't want to encourage people if they have questions about memories or alzheimer's or anything in the book, you know, this is a great moment to add them into the q&a but talk about alzheimer's a little bit and i'm curious whether working on this book made you think about
alzheimer's in a different way or feel that you understood it or -- or understood its impacts in a way you hadn't thought about before? >> well, i hadn't actually really thought about alzheimer's before and i think that's true for many of us because by the time someone has alzheimer's, they are usually, you don't see them, they don't go out. so they are invisible unless you know someone who has it or you know someone who is taking care of someone with alzheimer's. but, you know, we know a lot about alzheimer's but we don't know what causes it. so that makes it very, very hard to treat, so it's known a lot of features of alzheimer's or what they call biomarkers like the toxic proteins that build in the brain and hyperactivity and the
inflammation and where the damage is. it's possible to see all of those things but how that process got started is believed to have happened way, way earlier and it's not clear why it begins and -- and there may not be a cause, there may be multiple causes, there may be multiple on-brands to this disease. so it's very hard to figure out the cause because it does happen so early and it's a disease of aging. so there's a ton of other things going on in the human brain at the same time and many people with alzheimer's disease may have some other disease as well. they might have some cerebral vascular disease. so it can be sort of hard to see the part. >> you're right that i think we think more about alzheimer's if there's a personal connection. most of us actually hope to go through our lives with no connection at all, i think.
i'm going to briefly mention mind and that will allow me to segue into personal stories which is one of the questions i've gotten in the q&a here which is that my favorite who was also the smartest person in her family, right, always super sharp is the one person, this is my father's side of the family who was diagnosed with alzheimer's and so i was shocked actually, right, of the family, of all the people that i would have predicted who have ended up with an alzheimer's memory disorder. my aunt was the last person for me on that list and i will add that, you know, due to covid-19 which also comes up in your book in the way that it, you know,
has been researched disruptive in some ways. the things that aren't focused in infectious disease. she ended up in a unit care unit that was locked down due to covid and that did not go well. i have very strong feelings about alzheimer's. i have a question here that is related to something that you raised in the book. also personal, lauren, can you say more about your own experience with amnesia, what cause understood, did your memory simply returned or what happened? >> so what happened is it turned out that it was a type of seizure that was caused by a brain legislation. -- lesion, i went through testing that owen rivers went
through after his injury and i got -- i was advised to have surgery by the chief of neurosurgery at a boston area hospital and i didn't like that idea so i got a lot of second opinions and i was told by neurologists to just hang tight and take some medicine and i'd be fine and that has been the case, tons of mri's, you know, that lesion is there still. fortunate for me it was a one-time event and, you know, i consider myself extremely lucky.
>> that's what people with opioid associated were missing, is what happened to me and why am i the only person out there? >> right, no, that makes perfect sense. this is a question from pat, also related to the people with an opioid-related syndrome. it does sound that fentanyl damages memory suddenly where alzheimer's disease is a slower development. do we know of other chemicals that affect the memory suddenly or slowly i suppose especially what we might call chemical? >> well, not lifestyle chemicals
that i'm aware of. there is another toxin that can damage and it's called a shellfish poisoning and toxic that accumulates in shellfish during algae blooms. so similarly it just zeros in on hipa campus and damages severely and so people who suffer from that will have exactly the same kind of presentation but in terms of the hipa campus, i'm not aware of any research that suggests there's a toxin that's particularly targeting and that's when the toxic proteins accumulating many years in the brain and when they get together in hipa campus that's when the damage really begins and then it spreads out from there in regions. >> i don't want -- i have enough questions that i don't want to go down this path too much, but
you do make the point in the book that we do know of other exposures that are implicated in neurological conditions such as parkinson's. memory but definitely neurological in the chemical. i have a series of questions related to art and craft and -- and the telling of the book itself. evan would like to know how did dr. barry feel about story researched and publicized and this is a complementary question in your great book in such depth. he turned relevant emails over years and can you tell us how the project worked? >> right, so he actually didn't turn over the emails to me. it was the department of public health that turned over the emails through a freedom of information act request.
but he and one of the neurologist that he worked closely monroe butler, did turn over their text messages which were fascinating because they show the kind of back and forth and the evolution of ideas over the years as they try to sort out, you know, what does this mean, what can we learn from owen rivers, you know, what are the implications, could this form the basis of new mouse animal model for alzheimer's. i mean, actually i was a little surprised that he let me do this because he doesn't like the limelight. i think he was motivated by wanting to get the word out because there are undoubtedly more people out there who just don't know what happened to them. so, you know, it's possible that now more people will be aware of it. >> no, that makes perfect sense.
this is a related question from allison. throughout the book you include, speaking of text messages, text messages, personal notes that owen, one of your main characters wrote and other primary source material. how did you choose what material to include and why did you want to include those personal snapshots? >> i will take the personal snapshots first. you know, science -- this sounds silly, but science is done by people. i think how science advances depends so much on people's personalities and how they think about problems and who they talk to and luck. so those text messages and those emails really revealed people's personalities and their persistence and how they thought about ways that would have been
boring for me to just describe in an ammunition voice and it was more interesting to hear directly from those people and, of course, there were tons of boring emails that i swifted through from the dph that you have to choose, the ones that tell the story even the story of your day, you're not going to sit down and tell everyone everything that happened. you will choose the highlights, so that's what i did. >> that's just good writing. and related to that was there anything fascinating that you learned during research that ended up so to speak in the cutting room floor, a story that you didn't tell? >> well, i think it was more some interesting science that i learned which i could not work in because it derailed the story but researchers at uc san francisco who were trying to see can we image opioid receptors
when they are being activated and by accident they found out that the opioids we take -- the ones we take like fentanyl, those actually behave differently and go inside of neurons and they go into parts that regular opioids don't and i just thought that was fascinating because i always wondered, we already have opioids, why are these so different. well, maybe that's why. i just thought that was fascinating? >> that was really interesting. so i'm going to go back to interesting kind of question from cindy here which has to do with health exceptionally good memory and retention. i mean, describing an
88-year-old friend who has an incredible memory given the question of counting backwards from 7 to 100 which i'm not sure i could do. [laughter] >> totally nails that and in other sort of test, memory test, she's all over it. i mean, i've heard and i actually think about this myself that, you know, when you get to be middle-aged and thinking not so much about diseases here, but just generally memory and longevity that we tend to lose some of our memory for nouns or names as we get older and i certainly see some of that in myself sadly enough, i don't remember names as well as i wish i did these days. not only like, you know, memory
defects and memory diseases but do we actually understand any of the biology behind an exceptional memory? >> you know, that's a great question and i don't know the understand and i don't know if that's actually been studied so -- >> not something that i looked into. i definitely -- i actually met on one of my research trips someone like that who remembered every day of her life she could go back and tell me what was happening and conversations and it was -- it was wild and she seemed perfectly happy and some people you hear about who have the exceptional memories not necessarily a great thing to remember everything but for her it just seems fine. she enjoyed it. >> i would love actually and totally say that should be your next book. [laughter] >> memory geniuses and amazing stories. i don't know if it'll be as good
as this one but it really is an interesting question and related to that in a very pinpoint way here is another question, is there any evidence that memory exercises, games, cross words, whatever actually have any effect in preventing memory or enhancing memory loss or enhancing memory? >> yes, so there's this concept called cognitive research which is the ability for your brain to still keep functioning well even in the face of damage that's happening. so there is evidence that exercise is helpful in scathing off memory loss and dementia but not the kind of things that the crossword puzzle that you do every day. it has to be something hard, you know, just like exercise if you want to build me muscle.
if you want the kind of cognitive workout that is thought to be helpful. you know, learning a new language or really challenging yourself in some way and it's also being socially engaged. so, you know, having experiences, your brain needs input. it's also why having hearing loss is problematic because you're just not interacting with the world as much. so anything you can do to basically be working your brain is a good idea. >> that's really helpful and, you know, sadly reminds me of the many times that people say to me, have to do the work. as a couple of book-related questions and then i will -- which i hope we can get to and then question about -- and i expect you have gotten these before the new drug related to alzheimer's and provide to the
fda but let's do the book ones quickly. memory, amnesia, alzheimer's that you recommend related partly because i think the opioid discussion we had, have you read the new book about the family and have you had any thoughts about that book? >> i have not read that book about the sackler family. one of the books that i turned to early on it's an oldy but a goody is the 7 sense of memories by daniel because the concept that is he talks about in terms of memory and what it's for and how it fails us, you know, still holds true today. i think there's two recent books, the problems alzheimer's by jason if you want to dig in alzheimer's and how we should be caring for people with alzheimer's. that one is very good. there's a new book out about remembering, how remembering by lisa genova who wrote still alis that is focused more on the
science of memory. if so if that's your interest, then one of the books that i read about addiction that i found interesting is called the biology of desire by mark lewis. and that -- that takes the position that addiction is as much of a disorder of learning and memory as it is a disease. >> i actually have to say that i really liked still alice and some of the points about memory and who we are. >> yeah. >> you should definitely look at this. so the fda and this has been incredibly -- geeky science writer community, incredibly controversial. recently approved a drug that was really targeting plaques as one of the issues in alzheimer's and the approval process actually caused 3 scientists on
the fda advisory board to quit the board because they were so unhappy about how it turned out and yet there is a lot of people whose hope that this is going on the helpful so if we can finish, you know, talking a little bit about that, that would be wonderful. >> okay. >> yeah, so as you said, the advisory panel recommended against approval and that is not to say that they know it doesn't work. it's to say that the evidence isn't there in their opinion to show that it does work. so many people were very surprised that it was approved because there had been 25 press clinical trials targeting so the same approach didn't work and why this one finally was approved, there were lots of ideas of why this was approved and, of course, everyone wants a drug to work.
you know, i think a concern that a lot of people have expressed is that this is going to make it harder to develop other drugs because there's already a shortage of people for clinical trials and now that will be made worse because there will be so many people taking this drug that they then aren't available to try other things. so that is a concern, you know, but it's also possible that because the fda has approved this drug people will feel more confidence in investing money in coming up with other strategies, so there were -- i mean, before this decision was made, i spoke with a lot of researchers who said, this is a great time in the field. like we are finally truly optimistic about finding a treatment, you know, it's a renaissance and we can see it 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, so i don't think people are going to abandon all the other strategies and so, you know, i think despite all of the concerns
about this new drug which i think are real, there's still a sense of optimism in the field about if not what the answers are like they can see how to get to the answers so that we can develop treatments. >> that makes me feel a little less bitter. [laughter] >> as we close this evening out, lauren, other points that you think, either you would like to say about memory or the particular investigation, the secrets how we remember, the points that you would like to leave our audience with? >> so, i mean, one of the things i really looked about the story is, again, it goes back to sort of personality and -- and what drives science, so i think, you know, the case study is sort of
scorned in science. it's at the bottom tier of, you know, compared to sort of work with mice. it's considered sort of low-level, you know, one-off, but for me and for many scientists those one-offs are the opportunity to say, what did we miss? when something doesn't make sense, it's either the observation wasn't correct or we didn't know something that's important. you are seeing it for the first time so, you know, what does it mean and, you know, most people are -- everyone is busy so you file in the back of your mind and move on or are you in a position to say, okay, i want to figure out what this -- what this means and sometimes, you know, it really unlocks a whole new way of -- of understanding human health that is really valuable. so for me it's about the so for me it's about the twin -- sometimes opposing ideas of pay attention to things that make sense, don't make sense.
be open-minded and also be skeptical and check yourself before you jump to conclusions. so you have to be both critical and open to new ideas at the same time i think to be a great scientist that's what youth have to do. >> that's arf wonderful way to close this discussion, and i wish we could go longer. you have been great and i really want to thank everyone who has stayed. people t have just stayed throuh this whole discussion which is always wonderful to see, and the questions have been so smart. so forwn my own perspective, someone who feel very lucky to come and talk about a great book like this, thank you to everyone. >> thank you. truly great to beon here great conversation. >> i i will occur you both. thank you once again tremendously to both of you for sharing this discussion with us
tonight and so relevant with the recent fda decision as well. i'm glad you touched on that. and thank you, everyone out there all over the country for spending the evening with us. please learn more about the book and feel free to purchase "the memory thief" on harvard.com with the links i have spammed with in the chat. on behalf of harvard book store have a great night everyone. please keep reading and be well. take care. >> sunday, december 5 on "in depth" historian and conservative commentator victor davis hanson joins us live to talk about war, politics and citizenship in the united states. his book titles include the father of us all, the case for trump and his latest, the dying citizens which he says the idea of american citizenship and the ideals associate with it are disappearing. juul'ing in a conversation with your phone calls, facebook comments, text and tweets for
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