By lauren aguirre

Imagine waking up one day with amnesia, unable to form even a single new memory. Beginning about a decade ago, a small but growing number of opioid overdose survivors across North America suffered this fate. Each victim was left with surgically precise damage to the hippocampus, the place that holds the keys to our past. The Memory Thief chronicles the efforts of a small team of doctors to understand what this rare amnestic syndrome, which continues to strike new victims seemingly at random, might also mean for the rest of us. Along the way, Aguirre explores the nature of memory—the brain’s almost magical trick for shaping our identities and making sense of the world. Where do memories live? Why do we forget most of what happens in a day but remember some events with stunning clarity years later? And what new strategies may finally break the stalemate in the quest to capture the greatest memory thief of all—Alzheimer’s disease?    

Lauren Aguirre

Aguirre is an award-winning science journalist who has produced documentaries, short-form video series, podcasts, interactive games, and blogs for the PBS series NOVA. She has covered everything from asteroids to human origins to art restoration, but is particularly fascinated by the brain. Aguirre’s articles on memory and addiction have appeared in STAT, The Boston Globe Ideas Section, Undark, The Atlantic, The Scientist, and PBS. The Memory Thief is her first book.


Morning Joe • MSNBC

Top of Mind with Julie Rose

Harvard Book Store • Cambridge, MA

Cary Memorial Library • Lexington, MA

Salem Athenaeum • Salem, MA

Hidden Forces with Demetri Kofinas

STAT's First Opinion Podcast


July 19, 2021


Lessons learned -- and lost -- from a Vietnam-era study of addiction

The scientist

June 1, 2021


The Overlooked Power of Inhibitory Neurons


July 19, 2019


Role of Seizures in Alzheimer's Disease is Gaining Overdue Attention

UNDARK & the atlantic

January 29, 2018

A Mysterious Amnesia, Related to Opioid Overdose, Creeps Beyond New England



December 24, 2018

Altering Memories to Treat Addiction


November 30, 2017

Will Surgery and Anesthesia Harm Your Memory?

Lauren Aguirre is represented by Aevitas Creative Management. The Memory Thief is published by Pegasus Books and distributed by Simon and Schuster. The writing of this book was supported in part by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Program in Public Understanding of Science and Technology.