Critics have not been very kind to Inferno, Dan Brown’s follow-up to The Da Vinci Code: mocking its wooden dialogue and ‘tour guide’ descriptions of Florence and Venice. But how does it stand up scientifically? A key part of the plot hinges on [spoiler alert] a chemically-induced amnesia. We are told in the book that new memories are normally stored in STM for around two days before migrating to LTM. Using ‘new blends’ of benzodiazepines, however, a character’s STM is ‘deleted’, resulting in them losing all recollection of two days’ worth of events.
So should psychology students be rushing to defend Dan Brown’s research skills, or is this a passage we’d all do best to forget?