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The Proust EffectThe Senses as Doorways to Lost Memories$
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Cretien van Campen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199685875

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199685875.001.0001

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The hippocampus of Proust

The hippocampus of Proust

The making of sense memories in the brain

(p.46) (p.47) 6 The hippocampus of Proust
The Proust Effect

Cretien Van Campen

Julian Ross

Oxford University Press

The Proust effect is found to occur gradually, and largely outside the conscious mind, especially in the implicit memory systems. A Proust effect involves activity in many areas of the brain. Three crucial areas of the brain have a clear function: the hippocampus collects memory pathways in different sensory domains; the amygdalae add emotion to the experience; and the frontal lobe oversees the coherence and consistency of the memories. These neurological processes have been compared with the creative process experienced by an artist. The Proust effect is not a faithful replication of the past, but a composition of sensory impressions, emotions and physical feelings, which together give new meaning or insights to an episode from someone’s past. Smell memories more often go back to childhood memories in the period between six and eleven years of age. From the age of eleven onwards, memories are more often recovered through words and narratives.

Keywords:   Marcel Proust, types of memory, neuroscience, philosophy and psychology of consciousness, qualia, smell memories, brain functions

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