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?    

debut Author

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, Undark, The Atlantic, Scientific American, and PBS. The Memory Thief is her first book.

Upcoming Events

June 10, 2021

Cary Memorial Library • Lexington, MA (Virtual)

7:00 - 8:30 pm EST. Science and Economics Series

JUNE 17, 2021

Salem Athenaeum • Salem, MA (Virtual)

7:00 pm - 8:15 pm EST

june 22, 2021

Harvard Book Store • Cambridge, MA (Virtual)

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST.  In conversation with Deborah Blum


July 19, 2019


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


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.