Charan Ranganath with Indre Viskontas - Why We Remember : Unlocking Memory's Power to Hold on to What Matters (Ferry Building Store)

Charan Ranganath
in conversation with Dr. Indre Viskontas, PhD

Why We Remember
Unlocking Memory's Power to Hold on to What Matters


In-Person Event • Book Passage (SF Ferry Building)

Tues., February 20th, 2024 • 6:30pm PT

This event will be hosted live at Book Passage's San Francisco Store. Please contact with questions regarding live events.

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.

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. 

CHARAN RANGANATH is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience 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 a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship. He lives in Davis, California.


Dr. Indre Viskontas, PhD is a neuroscientist, opera stage director and sought-after science communicator across all mediums. Combining a passion for music with scientific curiosity, she is affectionately known as Dr. Dre by her students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she pioneered the application of neuroscience to musical training, and at the University of San Francisco, where she is an Associate Professor of Psychology and director of the Creative Brain Lab. She  received a BSc from the University of Toronto, a Master of Music from the San Francisco  Conservatory of Music and a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from UCLA. She is also the  Creative Director of Pasadena Opera, where she directed The Man Who Mistook his  Wife for a Hat, based on the famous case study written by Oliver Sacks and Proving Up, by one of opera’s most exciting composer/librettist duos, Missy Mazzoli and Royce  Vavrek. She also directed Katya Kabanova for West Edge Opera at the California  Shakespeare Theater, and the premiere of a new work recounting the full story of Lady  MacBeth at UCLA. Future projects include collaborating with the New World Symphony  and Edwin Outwater in Miami and Eric Whitacre in Lithuania.  

As a scientist, Dr. Viskontas has published more than 50 original papers and  chapters related to the neural basis of memory and creativity, including several seminal  articles in top scientific journals. She is currently the President-Elect of the Society for  the Neuroscience of Creativity and the Director of Communications for the Sound  Health Network, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts. Her scientific work  has been featured in Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia, Nautilus, Nature: Science Careers and Discover Magazine. She has also written for American Scientist, MotherJones.comVitriol Magazine and other publications. In 2020, SFCM and the Getty Foundation  published her white paper, Music for Every Child, outlining the impact of music education  on child development. Her first book, How Music Can Make You Better, was published by Chronicle Books in 2019, and within a week was the best-selling music  appreciation book on Amazon.  

She co-hosted the docuseries Miracle Detectives on the Oprah Winfrey Network and  has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, major radio stations across the US,  including several appearances on the NPR program City Arts & Lectures, the Ted Radio  Hour and the Sunday Edition on the CBC in Canada. She also co-hosted the web series  Science in Progress for and VRV. She is also the host of the popular  science podcast Inquiring Minds, which has been downloaded more than 14 million  times. Her second podcast, Cadence: what music tells us about the mind was a  finalist for the Science Media awards, and a Webby Honoree. In 2022, she wrote and  hosted the Audible Original podcast Radiant Minds: the World of Oliver Sacks. She  often gives keynote talks, for organizations as diverse as Genentech, LinkedIn, the  Dallas Symphony, SXSW, TEDx and Ogilvy along with frequent invited talks at  conferences and academic institutions. She has written and filmed 98 lectures across  four courses for The Great Courses, Essential Scientific Concepts, Brain Myths  Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience, How Digital Technology Shapes Us and Your Creative Brain, streaming now on the Wondrium platform. She also co-created and hosts a podcast for Visa Direct called Money Travels and was the spokesperson and scientific  consultant for the Sonos x NOW collaboration Now that’s what I call Dopamine, a  playlist designed to elicit the chills. 



Charan Ranganath photo courtesy of Michael Rock. Dr. Indre Viskontas, PhD courtesy of the publisher.


1 Ferry Building Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94111
Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory's Power to Hold on to What Matters By Charan Ranganath Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385548632
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click Title for More Details
Published: Doubleday - February 20th, 2024