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Back to Understanding Memory: Explaining the Psychology of Memory through Movies

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Understanding Memory: Explaining the Psychology of Memory through Movies by Wesleyan University

2,128 ratings

About the 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...

Top reviews


Jul 31, 2020

The material is presented in an easy to remember and understand format. Information is repeated several times during a lecture. The videos chosen enhanced understanding and engagement in the lectures.


Jun 2, 2020

one of the best course I did on Coursera. I really love learning memory and psychology at the same time. the examples given are really just awesome. One useful course during this COVID-19 pandemic.

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1 - 25 of 626 Reviews for Understanding Memory: Explaining the Psychology of Memory through Movies

By melissa p

Mar 19, 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.

By Kavin K

Jun 3, 2020

one of the best course I did on Coursera. I really love learning memory and psychology at the same time. the examples given are really just awesome. One useful course during this COVID-19 pandemic.

By Shailesh S

Nov 26, 2016

Excellent course. I signed up for this course only because of curiosity, after week 1, my interest grew, I had no idea about how the memory "works" (or doesn't), I binged on watching lectures for all weeks and passed weekly quizzes in 1st attempt (except week 1 where I needed 2 attempts), I'm so glad I pursued this and finished in 2 days' time. The subject content, intermixed with relevant movies, flow of the topics, depth and breadth, the way prof. Seamon explains (narrative, style) - all is very good. I'd certainly recommend this course to other students. And, I'll look forward to reading Prof.'s book to understand the topic a bit more. Thanks to all (Coursera, Weslyan U, staff).

By MD. A R D

Aug 6, 2020

As a movie lover, this course was really fascinating for me. I had seen some of the movies before which I could relate to my understanding. I will surely watch the rest of the movies in the future. Professor John Seamon's lectures were really wonderful and touching. I loved all the lectures. Especially the topics of dementia, forgetfulness. I myself had a heat-stroke a few years ago, So I could relate somewhat to the experience.

By Robin D

Aug 1, 2020

The material is presented in an easy to remember and understand format. Information is repeated several times during a lecture. The videos chosen enhanced understanding and engagement in the lectures.

By Dr. S D

May 10, 2020

This course provides common sense and visual examples through movies that improves the level of awareness and understanding for my love ones as I transition. Thank you for sharing your research!

By Apurva D

Mar 10, 2017

As the course has included movies to explain important concepts, it never gets boring. As a result a link is maintained throughout. It is a small course giving a great understanding about memory.

By Evelyn L K

Aug 9, 2020

This is a throughly enjoyable experience.

Information was presented in a manner that made it easy to understand and the film clips accurately expressed what was being presented in the lecture.

By Dorothy H

Jul 9, 2016

This "should be" a five star course. It is a great topic, with wonderful clips from movies and is well-written.

Why only 3 stars then?

For a class about film little was adopted from good storytelling and filming techniques. The Prof slumped in his chair and clasped his hands in front of his chest for most of the course and spoke in a wispy, pedantic voice that made me uncomfortable in my body to listen to. I kept on wanting to tell him to sit up and breath and speak naturally! On top of that, the sound quality was simply awful!

If the Prof were to take some acting or presenting lessons and improvements to the sound quality were made (or a professional actor hired to present the material) it could be one of the best courses ever, but instead, it was hard to get through for me even though the material fascinates me as I'm learning neuroscience and love movies.

The world of MOOCs are different than your old standard classroom style. Visual and auditory presentation really counts.

By Beatrice A F

May 13, 2016

I was actually looking for filmstudy courses but i must say i really enjoyed this one. I learned alot about memories, remembering and how our brain works. I have even found a new way for myself to faster learn scrips for films or remember things, by using the methods from this course! very well done. Just wish Wesleyan would give out the certificates for free. I think its useful to have, but in my case not necessary to purchase for my study career. Besides i'm like most young people very limited in my finances. I'd suggest to rather ask for donations and give out a more detailed certificate for the ones that donate but give out a standard certificate for all students. And thank you to all people involved for making this course, especially prof. Seamon, he explained the material very well!

By Mary G

Apr 23, 2020

I was attracted to the course because of the use of movies. I found that the course was organized well and the information was more relative with the demonstrations of how movies depicted the various phases and descriptions of memory. The instructor was perfect for the course...somewhat humorous but factual and personable. Here are two suggesitions: Adjust the voice volume on the instructor. Even at 100 percent, his voice was very low. Also, I suggest that on test feedback, allow the test taker to see all the answers. It is easier to understand and learn if you see the wrong answer as well as the other choices. I appreciated being able to redo the tests too. Thank you. It was a very engaging experience. It is my second course with Coursera.

By Stefan W

Oct 28, 2019

I thought this was an excellent course, well structured with excellent revision summaries, and very stimulating course material which made you see things from the viewpoint of others which I had not thought of previously. The lectures were informative, easy to understand, clear and delivered in a tutorial manner with just the right amount of repetition to underline key principles of Memory and what causes it to fail and break down in later life. Along with some good practical suggestions on how we might maintain a healthy lifestyle to maintain as efficient a memory as possible into old age. Great course - I enjoyed it - thank you Prof Seamon

By Mustafa S Y

Nov 26, 2017

This course is excellent. The information given is quite interesting and beneficial in understanding memory. The explanation of the various concepts presented in this course is done very well and in an easy-to-understand manner. The professor speaks in a clear, well understood language and in a friendly way. But the most interesting, and fun, thing about this course is how the aspects of memory are explained through the use of various movies presented as short clips and commented on by the instructor. Highly recommend this course for any person interested in memory or movies.

By Dinuk S

Feb 7, 2021

This is a great course.I'm a film lover and a psychology student.This method of learning [learning through movies] more effect than the usual learning. Hope to see more courses like this in future.


Feb 4, 2021

Very interesting method to explain the phenomenon's of memory with movies. Like pointing the correct fact or wrong facts of the "use of memory" by the movies. The class has a lot of knowledge very well synthetized and very easy to organize in the program (not making to many efforts to of remembering the first class concept). But the most important fact of the class is that the knowledge was applicated until we could do it by ourselves.

I always wanted to do investigation or research (phycology with neurosciences) but never could find a explicit motive or objective in my career (couldn´t make a portrait of myself as a professional in the future). But Maybe I could try some research for memory topics like "finding out the cause of Alzheimer's ", etc.

Please don´t get angry I haven´t read your book yet... I am a lazy student and also a very ¿cheapskate person ? (plus no credit card and I suck as a cyber-pirate).

I also thanks for the close personal memory that you shared with us in Alzheimer´s disease. I have at least 2 relatives with this sickness (or maybe other type of brain degenerative disease) .Because it allowed me (at least) to understand more about the perspective of the person that are ¿housing the diseased or ill patient? (spouse for example). Its very important to see the health problems in the caretakers especially in the informal aspect (relatives and normally female that has to leave studies or job or worse do all of them in occidental culture) . A disease like this is very hard weight and its very normal phenomenon in Latin-American countries that are in still trapped in the gap between "developed or industrial countries " with undeveloped countries trying neoliberal policies to fix dictatorships regimens or "communist " (populist) governments. In a sense the young or working labor people has to choose to be selfless for the family or only consider family the people that "can lift their weight" or still have their uses.

¡Well I better find a credit card to certificate myself for studying in summer!

Recommendation: There is a series that could be used for this class "Westworld" series (2016) for hypothetical exercises.

By Aedrian A

Jan 23, 2022

This insightful course draws from the experience and expertise of its instructor, Professor Emeritus John Seamon, in providing clear and concise exposition of how human memory works (and breaks down) through materials people enjoy – films. Both professionals and casual learners will learn something knew from the offering. At the very least, they will have a tangible framework which they can use in explaining the generation, maintenance and loss of memory to other interested people. My most cherished take-away from this course is the realization that memory is an interpretation, rather than a record, of past and present events that we can use for future planning. Furthermore, I also appreciate how this course encouraged me to become more cognizant of underlying themes and mechanics in movies – in this context, how memory is illustrated by filmmakers – beyond watching them for entertainment. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the offering and highly recommend it to everyone regardless of where they currently are in their lives.


Nov 28, 2019

I have seriously considered myself having a severe memory challenge, whet I sat for an exam, in Daytona FL, five times without succeeding. I recall my then lecturer, Adil who was about 5 years younger than I am, telling me to go take a drug called "ginko". I ultimately felt slighted as I was the oldest in the class, as I was 36years old then, and the only one who took the exams multiple time and never passed.

Coming across this course has thrown much light on the possible causes of the problems I had remembering, and am glad I completed this course. A big thank you to the lecturer, John Seamon for providing and running through the course contents, also a big thank you to Wesleyan University for their willingness to share this course for free, and also to Coursera for giving the platform to be able to access this course. I can't for get to thank God for giving me effrontery to complete this course in flying colors too!!

By Aiswarya R

Sep 28, 2020

Prof. Seamon combines insights from several lesser-known and popular films to illustrate the workings of the human mind, especially how we preserve and lose memories. It is a very interesting course blending scientific facts with reflections on life and film. By the end of this course, we learn to better appreciate this dynamic faculty of the mind that we often take for granted, be introduced to several wonderful films on the subject, become better aware of illnesses concerning memory loss, the perseverance of patients and caregivers alike, and the surprising ways in which memories linger in their minds.

By Barbara A

Jun 4, 2022

My name is Barbara, I am 70 and I would really like to THANK professor John Seamon for this fine course. Absolutely interesting, involving, complete, well presented, with a calm and relaxing pace, and at the same time rich in scientific suport, well argumented and clarified by interesting and well chosen films. And with a silver lining even on the most dreaded, Alzheimer, by us, aging people. Once more, tanks a lot to you, professor Seamon.,This course has REALLY ENRICHED ME. And it has opened new windows on a more serene future with useful insights and tips.

By Victoria M

Sep 19, 2020


Learned so very much about what influences and is included in what we remember, especially that emotions are always involved. Highly recommend this course for understanding how our memory works & to know some common misconceptions about memory. Also, learned important facts about memory in aging & how to improve & maintain skills & memory. An excellent course. Only warning is that in a few of the middle lectures the sound is uneven. Seems by adding subtitles it helps but found myself raising & lowering the volume throughout many of the lectures.

By Joyce S

Mar 20, 2016

I thought this was a wonderful way to explain the science of memory. Many Doctors are giving a dementia test as part of a yearly exam. You draw a clock and must put in the time mentioned plus three words. Frankly, I was annoyed as I was a former teacher, had to drive, park, and use a ticket machine to visit the doctor. I was even more annoyed when I asked him if he could give me a stent test and he asked me how I knew about such things. People in the eighties are very sensitive about their mental abilities.

Thank you for a nice experience!

Joyce Spier

By Ε Σ

Apr 20, 2017

One of the best seminars I have attended so far. You don't have to be into the field to enroll it. The videos are well structured enriched with the essential material to get to into action. For me the best part was that cinema was used as a very useful tool for better understanding the main points of the course.

Thank you so much Professor John Seamon. I really hope I could follow another course of yours in the future.

Thank you for connecting people interesting in learning with each other in a worldwide scale.

Best luck to everyone


By Ange R

Nov 23, 2016

The sections are interesting and informative without ever becoming dry. They include lectures, clips from films, and occasional memory exercises (which are short and fun). The professor also sends out emails with recommendations of other/newer movies and books that are relevant and to give some general info. He's involved, which is amazing for a program like this, and I really enjoy the 'psychology through film' aspect in general. Fun, easily accessible to those without a psychology background, and awesome to see related through media.

By Bo

Apr 11, 2021

This course has given me a deeper understanding of memory and it's systems & related disorders it has allowed me to improve my studying techniques as well as being able to have deeper conversations around this topic and revisit my own personal (episodic) memories with new insight and perspective.

There's also a fair bit of wisdom in the course and a feeling of nostalgia as you watch a experienced professor sit back in his chair with a big library behind him calmly and articulately explain complex subjects to you in plain language.

By Abimael S N

Aug 27, 2019

Very well explained concepts about memory, types of memory, deseases, myths revealed, examples using movies related to some kind of memory issue and real cases that give a deeper understanding about the memory case study.

So useful info applicable to my personal and profesional activities. It would be great to update this course with new info and research about Alzheimer deseas according to medical discovers and advices to face it in early and past ages.

Thank you very much for your dedication John!!

Wonderful course!!