Charan Ranganath

Why We Remember

By Charan Ranganath, PhD


Memory is far more than a record of the past. In this groundbreaking tour of the mind and brain, one of the world’s top memory researchers reveals the powerful role memory plays in nearly every aspect of our lives, from recalling faces and names, to learning, decision-making, trauma and healing.
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A new understanding of memory is emerging from the latest scientific research. In Why We Remember, pioneering neuroscientist and psychologist Charan Ranganath radically reframes the way we think about the everyday act of remembering. Combining accessible language with cutting-edge research, he reveals the surprising ways our brains record the past and how we use that information to understand who we are in the present, and to imagine and plan for the future.

Memory, Dr. Ranganath shows, is a highly transformative force that shapes how we experience the world in often invisible and sometimes destructive ways. Knowing this can help us with daily remembering tasks, like finding our keys, and with the challenge of memory loss as we age. What’s more, when we work with the brain’s ability to learn and reinterpret past events, we can heal trauma, shed our biases, learn faster, and grow in self-awareness.

Including fascinating studies and examples from pop culture, and drawing on Ranganath’s life as a scientist, father, and child of immigrants, Why We Remember is a captivating read that unveils the hidden role memory plays throughout our lives. When we understand its power– and its quirks–we can cut through the clutter and remember the things we want to remember. We can make freer choices and plan a happier future.

Photo by Michael Rock

Charan Ranganath

CHARAN RANGANATH is a Professor at the Center for Neuroscience and Department of Psychology and director of the Dynamic Memory Lab at the University of California at Davis. For over 25 years, Dr. Ranganath has studied the mechanisms in the brain that allow us to remember past events, using brain imaging techniques, computational modeling and studies of patients with memory disorders. He has been recognized with several awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship. He lives in Davis, California. Outside of neuroscience, Dr. Ranganath is also a songwriter and guitarist with a number of recording credits, including a song on a feature film soundtrack.


Saturday, February 17 from 6:30 – 8:00pm

Avid Reader Books

617 2nd St, Davis, CA 95616

Reading and q&a

February 20, 2024 at 6:30 PM PST

Book Passage San Francisco

One Ferry Building San Francisco, CA 94111 (Building #42)

Conversation with Indre Viskontas

February 22, 2024 at 7:30 PM PST

Town Hall Seattle

The Wyncote NW Forum 1119 8th Ave (Entrance off Seneca St.) Seattle, Washington 98101

Conversation with Chantel Prat