Dan Schacter, in the beginning

There is precocious and there is Dr. Dan Schacter,  William R. Keenan, jr. Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. One of the most renown cognitive Psychologists working with memory and related processes today.

I posted an introduction to Dr. Schacter and some description about his work (with some audio from our discussion) in my previous post. That post also contains some reference to his pubs and a summary of a few of the really impressive things he has done.

As I noted in that previous post, there is a lot more to say about Dr. Schacter. I’d like to share a little more from his early days — young Dan who completed  his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here’s the thing. It is rare that an undergraduate has the opportunity and the ability to support a publication. Most of us need a lot of training to be able to effectively write as a professional. We need a lot of guidance on how to do the background work, how to organize our thoughts, how to coalesce that into something reasonable, readable, and functional. Even with all that, most undergraduates who publish tend to do so in a fairly modest manner: as added author, and often with submissions to a journal that may be very modest in its scope and impact.

This was not the approach of young Dan. As an undergraduate he successfully published a single-authored paper to Psychonomic Bulletin which is, maybe, the most respected  journal for review articles in Psychology. As an undergraduate. It’s astounding. In the audio clip below Dr. Schacter describes how his work with Dr. Herbert Crovitz supported his ability to publish his first paper in 1976. As an undergrad. Wow.

Also notable in the clip above is how Schacter got started in memory research — working  with amnesic patients early, as an undergrad.

I’ve got a second audio clip to share with you! As I discuss in one the earlier posts to this blog, my favorite part of Psychology is the stories. How people experienced the things they did, the interactions they had with the people, and how everything went down.

The description below from Dr. Schacter is a great story — exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to capture! He describes the first amnesic patient he had worked with and just how profoundly the disorder had affected this gentleman.  The story below illustrates just how Schacter came to experience and understand the affects of his first amnesic patient.

There is much more to describe about Schacter, but time moves quickly and so must I. This coming Tuesday I meet with one of the foremost scholars of institutional racism and bigotry. While his work is incredibly poignant, it seems especially timely in the current sociopolitical climate. Hence, much as I’m happy to continue discussing the major works of Schacter and how they arose, I hope you’ll be able to wait for this to appear in the book. For now, my attention turns to doing a deep dive on the research of…well, you’ll just have to wait and see!

(*Image above provided by Dan Schacter from his time visiting Zurich in 1978. You can barely tell that he has aged from the image I took of his last week and posted).

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