About this Course
4.6
936 ratings
302 reviews
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...
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100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Clock

Suggested: 5 weeks of study, 1-2 hours/week

Approx. 9 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Chinese (Simplified), Greek, Korean, Spanish, Hungarian

Skills you will gain

PsychologyTerm (Time)SemanticsPersonal Development
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Clock

Suggested: 5 weeks of study, 1-2 hours/week

Approx. 9 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Chinese (Simplified), Greek, Korean, Spanish, Hungarian

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
1 hour to complete

Memory Processes and Memory Movies

Human memory involves a collection of systems that enable us to remember the past and imagine the future. Films can enhance our understanding of memory by telling us stories about people, illustrating how their present was shaped by their past and how, by watching their stories, we might navigate similar situations in our future....
Reading
5 videos (Total 38 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video5 videos
Lecture 1: Sometimes Life Imitates Art - Film: 50 First Dates6m
Lecture 2: What is Memory? - Film: Finding Nemo10m
Lecture 3: Memory's Everyday Function13m
Lecture 4: Using Films to Tell Stories About Memory - Film: The Princess Bride5m
Reading1 reading
Suggested Readings for Module 1 (optional)10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Memory Processes and Memory Films28m

2

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Making Long Lasting Memories

Memory’s main purpose is to facilitate future thinking. But to plan successful future actions, effective strategies for learning and retention are needed. Some strategies are highly effective for producing long lasting memories, others are not....
Reading
6 videos (Total 76 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video6 videos
Lecture 6: Creating Long Lasting Memories - Film: Cast Away20m
Lecture 7: Facing the Future by Looking Backward - Film: Groundhog Day9m
Lecture 8: Different Ways of Remembering - Film: Crash11m
Lecture 9: Where Do We Keep Our Memories - Film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind10m
Lecture 10: Memory Champs, Mnemonics, and Savants - Movie: Rain Man17m
Reading1 reading
Suggested Readings for Module 2 (optional)10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Making Memories that Last28m

3

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Autobiographical Memories and Life Stories

Each of us has a life story based on our personal experiences. These autobiographical memories define us and make us unique. But in telling our life story, we have reconstructed a personal narrative, much like a memoir writer. These recollections are generally accurate, but our memories are never a perfect record of the past. ...
Reading
6 videos (Total 65 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video6 videos
Lecture 12: Tell Me a Story About You - Film: Slumdog Millionaire12m
Lecture 13: Emotion, Empathy, and Movies - Film: Cinema Paradiso: The New Version12m
Lecture 14: Distant Memories - Film: Titanic13m
Lecture 15: Unforgettable Moments - Film: Unchained Memories: The Slave Narratives10m
Lecture 16: Remember Me - Film: The Joy Luck Club7m
Reading1 reading
Suggested Readings for Module 3 (optional)10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Autobiographical Memories and Life Stories28m

4

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Understanding the Reality of Amnesia

Amnesia has often been portrayed in film as resulting from a bump on the head and cured by another head bonk. In real life, amnesia can follow physical or emotional trauma, it may be temporary or permanent, and if it resolves, it is never from another blow to the head....
Reading
5 videos (Total 66 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video5 videos
Lecture 18: Organic Amnesia from Brain Injuries - Film: The Music Never Stopped16m
Lecture 19: Lost and Found Memories: Dissociative Amnesia - Film: The Return of the Soldier12m
Lecture 20: Lost and Found Memories: Dissociative Fugue - Film: The Majestic11m
Lecture 21: Memory's Most Studied Mind - Film: Memento15m
Reading1 reading
Suggested Readings for Module 4 (optional)10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Understanding the Reality of Amnesia28m
4.6
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31%

started a new career after completing these courses
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By VSSep 9th 2016

Very good course. It complete its purpose and manage to teach a lot of things in a simple and fast way, wich is the objetive of Coursera. Also, the forum is full of discussions, wich is interesting.

By MPMar 19th 2017

This was a fascinating course and the movie content he used was amazing. I would like to look into it further and am hoping there was a similar course or an extra course to expand on the content.

Instructor

John Seamon

Professor Emeritus
Psychology

About Wesleyan University

At Wesleyan, distinguished scholar-teachers work closely with students, taking advantage of fluidity among disciplines to explore the world with a variety of tools. The university seeks to build a diverse, energetic community of students, faculty, and staff who think critically and creatively and who value independence of mind and generosity of spirit. ...

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

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