Book review: Brain scientist reveals how we chat the world into being in Talking Heads

In a fascinating, accessible book, Shane O’Mara reveals the vital connections between conversation and memory, gossip and the formation of society

Memory shapes our perceptions of the world and helps us to build a shared reality. Picture: Getty

“Without memory, there is no culture,” wrote the Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. “Without memory, there would be no civilisation, no society, no future.” Wiesel was referring to the importance of bearing witness, but his sentiments are also key to understanding Shane O’Mara’s Talking Heads.

Professor of experimental brain research at Trinity College Dublin, O’Mara describes memory as the “overlooked miracle” that is essential to participating in our complex social lives, articulating how ...