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Brain Surgery Patient Trapped in a Mental Time Warp

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the can-I-leave-my-shirts-here dept.

Science 338

diverge_s writes "BrainConnection has an interesting article about a man who lives life straight out of the movie Memento. FTA: "When twenty-seven year old Henry M. entered the hospital in 1953 for radical brain surgery that was supposed to cure his epilepsy, he was hopeful that the procedure would change his life for the better. Instead, it trapped him in a mental time warp where TV is always a new invention and Truman is forever president. The removal of large sections of his temporal lobes left Henry unable to form any new personal memories, but his tragic loss revolutionized the field of psychology and made "H.M." the most-studied individual in the history of brain research.""

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338 comments

On the bright side... (5, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565173)

It means he never has to put up with re-runs on television and got to escape the entire disco era unscathed.

Re:On the bright side... (5, Funny)

Saven Marek (739395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565207)

It means he never has to put up with re-runs on television and got to escape the entire disco era unscathed.

I'm now wondering if he's been employed as a slashdot editor, and every dupe is a fresh exciting new story.

Re:On the bright side... (1)

errxn (108621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565383)

Plus, if he's writing headlines like Brain Surgery Patient Trapped in a Mental Time Warp, you also really have to wonder if he's pilfering from the Weekly World News.

Re:On the bright side... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565707)

No, he's a Fark moderator who lets four dupes a day through.

Re:On the bright side... (2, Funny)

Elad Alon (835764) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565760)

I wonder if he has registered with Slashdot, and every dupe is an exciting new post.

Re:On the bright side... (4, Interesting)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565230)

What does he think when doctors walk in with cell phones, digital cameras, and PDA's?

Big bang special effects... (1)

totoanihilation (782326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565625)

Never mind that... I've always wondered what someone from the fifties would think when seeing "special-effects" movies like LoTR ;)
Back then people seemed to be much more sensitive to these things than we are now...

Re:On the bright side... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565492)


"I watched that Peak Practice."
"Yeah, I've never seen it."
"Bloody repeat."
"Annoying innit?"
"Not for me, I hadn't seen it."

Re:On the bright side... (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565597)

Oh, there are quite a few people incapable of remembering anything from the entire Disco era. But of course that's nothing compared to the people who grew up in the 60's.

-

Re:On the bright side... (1)

Belseth (835595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565666)

got to escape the entire disco era unscathed.

I lived through that horror. Where do I sign up?

In other news (5, Funny)

drDugan (219551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565183)

"BrainConnection has an interesting article about a man who lives life straight out of the movie Memento. FTA: "When twenty-seven year old Henry M. entered the ..."

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565427)

Matrix?

Re:In other news (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565637)

please contact me.

Re:In other news (1)

Sky Cry (872584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565904)

"... Posted by samzenpus on Thursday January 26, @06:02AM from the can-I-leave-my-shirts-here dept. diverge_s writes ..."

Clive Wearing... (5, Informative)

RustNeverSleeps (846857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565195)

This case reminded me of another case I learned about in a psychology class several years ago. There is a British man named Clive Wearing [wikipedia.org] who has a similar condition caused by disease. A video of Wearing showed him greeting his wife as if for the first time in months or years, even if she had only just stepped out of the room for a minute, writing in his journal every couple minutes etc. They did say that he had some vague recollection of major events like the fall of the Berlin wall and the Soviet Union, but not much beyond that. He was also shown playing the piano very fluently, although he went into a seizure as soon as he stopped playing, supposedly because of the "shock" from the music stopping.

A bit more about him (4, Interesting)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565197)

Okay, I started typing this based only on the title of the /. article when it was still in the mysterious future. It looks like I'm talking about the same guy that the article is. Anyway, this guy is truly fascinating. It's good to hear that he's still alive and kicking! Here's what I typed before reading the article: I was doing video conversions (VHS->VCD) for a Pyschology professor a while back and he had this most amazing video of a man through some sort of illness had lost the ability to make new memories (a la, Memento, although this was before the release of that movie). He was happy as a clam, although kind of dazed and confused. What was interesting though, was that as he got older (the video followed him over something like twenty years), he started to adapt. I say adapt, because he wasn't making new memories, but was learning patterns. Let me explain: the nurses always came into his room hoping that he would recognize them, but of course he wouldn't, because he met them after the brain injury, but he started to pick up on that anticipation and started to fake knowing them, as best he could.

Re:A bit more about him (4, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565257)

My grandmother is going through this exact same process, and it is interesting to watch. She has gone from thinking that she just got to her new home, to "I think I've been here a few weeks." (years, actually) She's stopped recognizing a lot of people, but she's learned to pretend to know everyone. She learned to walk over to the calendar to see if people were there yesterday, even though she doesn't recognize the calendar or know why she's going to that part of the room.

She even learned how to sneak out and buy beer, and did so repeatedly. We were all impressed by that one. Of course, she pled innocent, and as far as she knows she was.

Re:A bit more about him (1, Offtopic)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565336)

Why not just buy the beer for her?

When I'm on my last legs, I'm pretty sure that I'm tossing the gym membership and signing up for the Cigar, Scotch, and Hamburger of the Month clubs, as well as enjoying biscuits and gravy with sunny side up eggs every morning for breakfast. All of that while gambling my money away.

Pretty much, everything that I do in moderation now, I'll do to the degree that it will kill me by the time I'm in my 70s or 80s. What will my doctor say? "You know, smoking could knock the last 5 or 6 months off your life at the rate you're going."

Re:A bit more about him (1)

Destoo (530123) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565409)

*SIGH* some people I know wished it were true.

What smoking and having those "bad" habits only do is make the last few years of your life miserable, not simply end it.

What doesn't kill you, at that point, just makes life harder to live. But it all comes down to the 'tude. My cousin's grand-father lost eyesight in the middle of both eyes. He can still sorta read, drive and all that stuff. But anything in the middle of his vision is simply blank. I needed to tell him who I was for him to recognize me, just because he couldn't really see me. So he still works as a volunteer, physical work stuff. I'd really freak if I lost my eyesight. I could still type and all, and relearn with voice reading or braille, but to learn these things at 60-70? I don't think so.

Re:A bit more about him (2, Funny)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565656)

I'm not exactly talking about becoming a total libtertine. My grandmother drinks Remy Martin XO whenever she has a drink, and enjoys one almost every night.

I wouldn't deny her it.

Re:A bit more about him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565945)

It should be a crime for someone like that to still be driving.

Re:A bit more about him (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565963)

She even learned how to sneak out and buy beer, and did so repeatedly.

I think that this says something about human nature, but I'm not quite sure what ;).

Re:A bit more about him (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565572)

What is happening, at least as was explained to us psych majors, is that he can learn skills, but not facts. Those parts of the brain are apparantly seperate, which is one of the major discoveries his case has lead to. So you cannot teach him facts about a bicycle that he doesn't know, but he could learn to ride a bycicle, if he doesn't know how.

Re:A bit more about him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565929)

long, long time since my degree in psychology but I think motor skills (movement)are governed in the cerebellum, not the cerebral cortex where thinking and memory mostly happen.
as i remember it, the cerebral cortex is the crinkly bit on the outside of the brain and it is also the bit of the chimpanzee brain that swelled up; the rest of the brain we have in common with our hairy, forest-dwelling cousins (99.4% shared DNA ...)

Ah, come in. Now what seems to be the matter? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565231)

(Caption on the screen: 'IT'S THE MIND -- A WEEKLY MAGAZINE OF THINGS PSYCHIATRIC' Cut to montage of photographs again with captions and music. Cut to a man sitting at usual desk. He is Mr Boniface.)

Boniface: Good evening. Tonight on 'It's the Mind', we examine the phenomenon of déjà vu. That strange feeling we sometimes get that we've lived through something before, that what is happening now has already happened. Tonight on 'It's the Mind' we examine the phenomenon of déjà vu, that strange feeling we sometimes get that we've ... (looks puzzled fir a moment) Anyway, tonight on 'It's the Mind' we examine the phenomenon of déjà vu, that strange...

(Cut to opening title sequence with montage of psychiatric photos and the two captions and music over. Cut back to Mr Boniface at desk, shaken. Caption on screen: 'IT'S THE MIND')

Boniface: Good evening. Tonight on 'It's the Mind' we examine the phenomenon of déjà vu, that strange feeling we someti... mes get ... that ... we've lived through something...

(Cut to opening titles again. Back then to Boniface, now very shaken. Caption on screen: 'IT'S THE MIND')

Not news... (3, Insightful)

xitshsif (909565) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565238)

"entered the hospital in 1953 for radical brain surgery"

If the most recent development was in 1953, is it still news?

Re:Not news... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565309)

If the most recent development was in 1953, is it still news?

You have to ask this on Slashdot?

Mirror, mirror (4, Interesting)

Baby Duck (176251) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565327)

The funniest and cruelest thing you can do to him is show him his own reflection. How would you feel if you woke up one morning and had tons of wrinkles on your face where none were before.

Re:Mirror, mirror (2, Interesting)

imoou (949576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565444)

He would have forgotten how he felt after coming to realization that the person in the mirror is him.

Re:Mirror, mirror (1)

saden1 (581102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565491)

I don't know, telling him his mother is dead seem crueler.

Crueler still... (4, Funny)

Errandboy of Doom (917941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565515)

I think hitting over the head with a chair would be pretty cruel, because man, that would have to hurt.

Re:Crueler still... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565611)

Well, if he were to meet Ballmer, at least twice, on the second and later meetings that just might happen...

Re:Mirror, mirror (3, Informative)

greginnj (891863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565589)

One of his doctors actually did this -- perhaps thinking it would help 'jar' his memory or something, not really thinking through the effect that suddenly seeing yourself old would have. HM's reaction was predictable -- 'Hey, Doc! What the hell is this??'

Fortunately, the doctor realized his error quickly, took away the mirror, and said, 'It's complicated, but I can explain it to you. But first, come on over to the window'. After looking out the window for a bit, HM forgot why he was there, or even that he was upset.

Re:Mirror, mirror (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565817)

Not true. Emotional memory still usually works. He'd still be upset, but wouldn't be able to remember why.

Re:Mirror, mirror (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565942)

> Emotional memory still usually works. He'd still be upset, but wouldn't be able to remember
> why.

You seem very certain about that!

Re:Mirror, mirror (5, Informative)

HaydnH (877214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565882)

"The funniest and cruelest thing you can do to him is show him his own reflection. How would you feel if you woke up one morning and had tons of wrinkles on your face where none were before."

Errr, did you read the article? He doesn't appear too bothered by the mirror thing:

"Mainly, though, he leads a life of quiet confusion, never knowing exactly how old he is (he guesses maybe thirty and is always surprised by his reflection in the mirror) and reliving his grief over the death of his mother every time he hears about it."


Actually he seems quite upbeat about the whole thing, the highlight of the article for me (as it looks like you probably missed it) has to be the following:

When walking down the corridor at M.I.T. with Henry, Dr. Suzanne Corkin made the usual kind of small talk. "Do you know where you are, Henry?"

Henry grinned. "Why, of course. I'm at M.I.T.!"

Dr. Corkin was a bit surprised. "How do you know that?"

Henry laughed. He pointed to a student nearby with a large M.I.T. emblazoned on his sweatshirt. "Got ya that time!" Henry said.

Haydn.

The real question is... (2, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565333)

WWASD?

What would Adam Sandler do?

Re:The real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565362)

Adam Sandler's character in 50 First Dates was named Henry, interestingly enough.

Re:The real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565541)

hoobity boobity boobity, skip-skap wip-wap lappy-scrap! hibbity-dibbity-doooOoooo!

Re:The real question is... (2, Funny)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565821)

Take a polaroid of Adam Sandler, write 'the brain surgeon' at the bottom, slip it in Henry M's pocket.

Re:The real question is... (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 8 years ago | (#14566017)

Take a polaroid of Adam Sandler, write 'the brain surgeon' at the bottom, slip it in Henry M's pocket.

* scribble scribble scribble *

"He is the one. Don't believe his lies. Kill him."

Result! :-)

Isn't that a new IBM product? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565914)

WWASD is bound to be taken for something

I never considered surgery (4, Interesting)

FuturePastNow (836765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565335)

I have epilepsy, specifically partial complex seizures of the temporal lobe. No neurosurgeon ever suggested surgery as a solution, but based on cases like this, I think I would have declined the offer had it been made. I can't imagine actually having part of my brain removed, and because everyone is different, results like this man's can never be 100% avoided.

The brain has a fantastic ability to route around damage, but 53 years after this man's surgery, we still don't know enough about the way it works to reliably fix problems that the brain itself cannot handle.

(Then again, my seizure episodes aren't nearly as frequent as described in the article.)

Re:I never considered surgery (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565484)

I think this guy is one of the main reasons your neurosurgeons never suggested surgery...

Experimental brain surgery (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565521)

Around that time, theory was a lot more advanced than practice. For example, there was a theory around that time that stated that seizures and some forms of mental illness were caused by malformed connections between brain cells - that all you needed to do was sever the connections and let them regrow. As theories went, that wasn't too bad.


Apparently what happened in practice is that doctors would use coat hangers or any other bits of wire they could find, and slash at the brain until the symptoms stopped.


Arguably, though, severe brain damage (through cutting chunks out or prodding them wildly with steel rods) was probably a better fate than those in Victorian asylums, which combined all the home comforts of a Soviet-era Siberian prison camp with the theraputic properties of a medieval torture chamber. At least the victims of the medical experiments were often incapable of suffering much. (Some, just not as much.)


Modern therapies for brain disorders are often highly dangerous, extremely toxic to the rest of the body, notorious for side-effects, often addictive, and many are poorly studied with completely unknown long-term consequences. That is many thousands of times better again than those who underwent the surgery.


With the newer discoveries being produced through fMRI and other next-generation scanning equiptment, I fully expect the next thirty to fourty years to produce as many radical changes to neurological treatments as the past thirty to fourty have. It'll be interesting to see how things change.

Re:Experimental brain surgery (3, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565620)


Around that time, theory was a lot more advanced than practice.


Boy is that an understatement. There was also little in the area of medical ethics. A lot of those doctors should have gone to jail for what they did. This is the same era where insulin shock and electro-shock were standard practices for several mental illnesses. What a sick and sad time.

Re:Experimental brain surgery (2, Informative)

jeremymiles (725644) | more than 8 years ago | (#14566033)

Errmmm... electroshock therapy still is used for depression. (Although you tend to be anaesthetised first.)

Re:Experimental brain surgery (2, Insightful)

bloodredsun (826017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565911)

Modern therapies for brain disorders are often highly dangerous, extremely toxic to the rest of the body, notorious for side-effects, often addictive, and many are poorly studied with completely unknown long-term consequences

And what do you base this comment on? Modern therapies are rarely dangerous (felbamate being the only modern therapy I would have said was dangerous and that is restricted), have few side effects especially compared to their action, aren't addictive, and are very intensively studied with long term effects based on the duration of their use. Surgery can also be fantastic for those with medically refractive epilepsy and with an assessment period of about 18 months can produce effects that are superior to drugs.

I think your post is either a troll or you are really quite ignorant about epilepsy treatment. I cannot for the life of me understand why you are currently rated +3 interesting.

Disclaimer: I don't work for any drug or surgical products companies

Re:I never considered surgery (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565585)


No neurosurgeon ever suggested surgery as a solution, but based on cases like this, I think I would have declined the offer had it been made. I can't imagine actually having part of my brain removed, and because everyone is different, results like this man's can never be 100% avoided.


The 1950s weren't exactly a proud time for neurology. The lobotomy only lost favor as a "treatment" in the 50s because of the advent of thorazine. The guy that invented the lobotomy actually won the nobel prize for medicine in 1949 for inventing the procedure. The fact that they did what is now considered butchery to this guy shouldn't be surprising, though it is really quite a sad part of the history of medicine in the US.

Re:I never considered surgery (5, Insightful)

bloodredsun (826017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565887)

Actually as someone who has just finished a PhD in Neurophysiology I feel I may be a little better placed to comment than your average /. reader

Complex partial seizures originating in the temporal lobe have one of the best success rates in epilepsy surgery, but surgery is only offered to patients whos epilepsy is medically refractive (cannot be controlled by drugs) and affects their life in such as way that they would strongly benefit from surgery. Temporal lobe epilepsy is most often caused by mesial temporal or hippocampal sclerosis, this means that that part of the brain has become scarred and shrunk and this damage is causing the seizures. So this part of the brain supports a minimal amount of function. As your seizures are probably well controlled by drugs, you would never have been offered a surgical option.

we still don't know enough about the way it works to reliably fix problems that the brain itself cannot handle.
That's correct to a certain extent, but we do know a lot more and one of them is how to avoid causing the sort of condition that HM suffers.

The question is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565503)

does he use tattoos as well?

Hmmm...... (0, Offtopic)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565524)

The story description starts out "diverge_s writes...", but although most here will never actually follow the link and read the article, if they did they would see that the first paragraph is almost identical to diverge_s' description. So, he / she didn't really write the summary as the Slashdot blerb suggests

Re:Hmmm...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565563)

FTA means From the Article.

Let's do the time-warp again (-1, Offtopic)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565573)

http://www.cosmosfactory.org/rocky_song_timewarp.s html [cosmosfactory.org]
RiffRaff:
It's astounding;
Time is fleeting;
Madness takes its toll.
But listen closely...

Magenta:
Not for very much longer.

RiffRaff:
I've got to keep control.

I remember doing the time-warp
Drinking those moments when
The Blackness would hit me

RiffRaff:
And the void would be calling...
Rocky Horror Picture Show will always be a classic.

Re:Let's do the time-warp again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565631)

And always off topic.

I've read about this before (4, Informative)

Mitaphane (96828) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565581)

I thought this story covered the term but apparently it doesn't. Anyway, the medical term for Henry's condition is called anterograde amnesia [wikipedia.org] . And if it hasn't already been mentioned here, it's also the same ailment that the protagonist Leonard has in the movie Memento [imdb.com] . And if you liked that movie I reccommend reading the short story [impulsenine.com] it was based on. It's an excellent piece of prose.

When my mother had a stroke... (5, Interesting)

shotgunefx (239460) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565590)

When my mother had a stroke when she was dying of cancer, a very odd thing happened.

I rushed to the hospital, she seemed ok, but weak. We talked for hours, everything seemed fine. I still don't know what prompted me to ask the question as our converstation was pretty much normal. I asked her "Do you know you who I am?"

She said "No, should I?". Pretty much the worst moment of my life. As it turned out, she though it was 1968 and she was in there to give birth to what would be my brother Kevin.

Thankfully, over the next few weeks, most of it came back, but it all came back in chronological order.

She was back to the 1980's within a few hours, but the next 12 years came back much slower. She thought I was still with my first girlfriend circa 1990, that we had our old pets. The last few years were the only thing that remained somewhat little fuzzy.

I always thought that was very telling about the mind. Not sure exactly what it says, but it definitely says something. Maybe memory is stored tree-like. The other thing that was odd, was the closer to the present it got, the slower it came back.

Re:When my mother had a stroke... (1)

Carthag (643047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565651)

The other thing that was odd, was the closer to the present it got, the slower it came back.

While I'm not a cognitive scientist, I am thinking that could be because earlier memories have been remembered thousands of times, and reinforced all the more during each remembrance. Newer memories haven't had that reinforcement yet, and the neural connections will be weaker. Perhaps?

Re:When my mother had a stroke... (2, Interesting)

Ryvar (122400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565793)

Yes and no. This is based off my own vague memory of what was recent theory about seven years ago in our cog. sci. class, so take it with a large grain of salt: there's a background 'noise' to the brain that slowly reduces the number of synaptic connections per neuron over time, which in theory would cause you to forget things. You have to think about a topic every once in a while - or think about something stored in a neural connection in close proximity at the actual physical level (thus activating the entire localized region) - to refresh the connection and keep it intact. New connections would be fresher and further from fading, but would not be as firmly etched into the overall neuro-semantic topology as the older memories. Put differently: older memories lose details more easily but are harder to remove entirely (without rearranging the entire local topology), whereas fresher memories are more firmly attached to their details but easier to forget entirely.

Something along those lines, at any rate.

--Ryvar

Re:When my mother had a stroke... (1)

Ryvar (122400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565771)

Almost sounds liked a journaled filesystem with the most recent records corrupt, doesn't it?

--Ryvar

Re:When my mother had a stroke... (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565859)

well, since i'm not a clinical psych, and don't know where such case studies can be found, i can tell you of some that i have read and have heard directly from the testing psych/medico's.

There are cases whereby organ transplant recipients have memories of something which they have never had any contact with. There was one case where a woman who had only ever heard the term rodeo, but didn't care for horses, cowboys, etc. recieved a [gut organ, liver or kidney or ooom-bop (whatever those are)] transplant, and while she was recovering from surgery in the hospital, turned on the tv in the room and found that she knew all sorts of information about certain professional riders (not even the best known rodeo riders, just some that were good), could give all sorts of stats for those people, and all she had to hear was their name. It was apparently rather well documented, given the circumstances, and is a wonderful example of how we learn. This also gives rise to some rather interesting insights into the historic human psyche, when you consider some of the surgeries that the ancients used to perform. But I digress.

Apparently, it is true that the whole human body is part of our storage facility, and since your mother suffered from a stroke while her body was dealing with cancer, this could definitely explain some of what was going on. It also does kinda go with your theory of the memory-treebark analogy, in that the whole is nothing without the parts, in a wierd kinda way.

Has anyone else heard of these sorts of stories, and does anyone know where to find them? I shall venture henceforth to google journals to see what i can find, but I have no idea if I shall return.

Anybody else know?

Re:When my mother had a stroke... (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565873)

crap, the crux of the story, as most of you may have inferred, is that the woman's transplant donor had been a young man who was unable to participate in the rodeo, but who lived and breathed it none the less. When the followup to this incident occurred, it was discovered that some of the riders that the woman could recall the most detail on (remember, she never had heard of anything related to the sport before this), those where the individuals that the young man looked up to and favored the most.

even preview doesn't help you catch all the mistakes, apparently

Okay, the followup articles . . . (2, Insightful)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565940)

This article [unc.edu] talks about "What was most striking were the numerous reports of organ transplant recipients who later experienced changes in personality traits, tastes for food, music, activities and even sexual preference. Is it possible that our memories reside deep inside our bodily cells in addition to in our minds?" and was written by Leslie A. Takeuchi, BA, PTA

This article [discoveryhealth.co.uk] talks about "In the 19th century a German anatomist Leopold Auerbach observed a complex network of nerve cells in the human digestive tract. And now scientists in the US and Germany are claiming to have rediscovered this so called 'second brain' which is made up of a knot of brain nerves in the digestive tract and is believed to involve around 100 billion nerve cells - more than those held in the spinal cord." and is really just a blurb but quite interesting food for thought. It comes from the Discovery Channel's website, since they do a lot of Health programming. (no puns intended, thanks, altho it is quite funny)

This article [skepticalcommunity.com] is a BB set of posts that is probably how most front page slashdotters would react to this topic, but it does have some insightful information, like this quote from halfway down the page
Let's see...whenever we've done tests with memory, the brain seems to be involved. The simplest example is that you can't remember anything if you've had your brain removed. More complex examples would be fMRI scans which show that different regions of the brain are active when you're doing different mental tasks, including the formation and recall of memories. You could say, "But that's just because the brain is interacting with the mystical unknown in ways which look like it's actually doing something!", but I'll Occam that argument: We have no evidence for non-physical things interacting with the physical realm, so when we see activity in the brain corresponding to activity in the "mind," we should assume that the brain is the location of the mind, not that the brain is some sort of mysterious conduit that we can't understand. If you've got some sort of experiment which would differentiate between these two views, I would be interested in hearing about it.

Also, your memory of the flavor of Pepsi is stored in the way that the neurons in your brain are connected to one another. I'll agree that we don't know exactly how memories work, but that doesn't mean that we know nothing of how memories work, and we should work with what knowledge we have rather than decide that understanding is an all-or-nothing process.
Which leads me to my belief that the organs DO almost all the work of memory, but it is the brain that stitches all that information back together, as well as some information storage of it's own. Does the fact that all information travel via the nerve clusters as electronic impulses that originate and return to the brain have anything to do with the electrical firing that MRI's and the like pick up? More and more I think this is really the case (If you are a medico student and want a thesis, use this, please, if you have seen papers published on this topic, please let me know!!!)

Re:When my mother had a stroke... (4, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565913)

The other thing that was odd, was the closer to the present it got, the slower it came back.

That's easily explained through general relitivity. As she travelled through time her "speed" in time increased, thus leading to a temporal dialation effect, slowing her down.

Is there a name for what *I* have? (4, Interesting)

Hosiah (849792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565688)

While we're all taking about memory defects...

I've have one that's very specific, but only been a minor nuisance. I blow people's names. Especially in a work environment, where I'm constantly meeting new people. A new person will have to remind me of their name anywhere from six to twelve times before it sinks in. Some people I know for awhile, then start calling them by the wrong name for a while. Then I stop that and get back to calling them by their right name again. Most people are understanding (I have to explain myself), but some get quite offended.

Mind you, it's the only memory defect I have. I can remember a face after meeting a person once and not seeing them for years. In conversation with a co-worker on a day-to-day basis, I can tell them what we talked about yesterday, what they were wearing last week, everything they've told me about themselves down to the most minute detail. Just not their name! But in most cases, I finally get them straight after a few months.

I was just wondering, with all the psych buffs in here...(PS it works this way online, too. I'm more likely to remember posters by their sig, or even just by their writing style, or on other forums by their icons...I'll even place people by their ID-number before their names!)

No it doesnt sound stupid (2, Funny)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565728)

I am the same way, and by way of ref, I was "diagnosed" ADD/ADHD in the late 80's/early 90's (you seriously expect ME to remember when, yeah right, read the first part of the sentence again). I have since spent a lot of time talking to some very knowledgeable (think genius and add some on top) Psychs (both varieties) and have come to the conclusion (which they sometimes acknowledge is a reasonable belief, since so little seems to be known about this "disease" (phhht)) that ADD/ADHD is not a impairment in the way that the mind makes connections with data, but in how much data the mind is anticipating. Kinda like revving your engine and dropping into second, sometimes you're where you need to be to make that happen, sometimes your not. ADD/ADHD people sometimes seem like everyday normal people, and sometimes we're all over the place, and sometimes we're about to fall apart on ya.

But back to you're post, yeah, you're not the only one. I CANNOT seem to get a person's name for anything, but I can do the face/item trick just as well. One of my prof's, double doctorate, retired from TWO psy institutions had a very simple trick for learning names, and he taught it to every one of his classes, psy or otherwise during the first few days of class. Use ONE (no more and no less) phrase everytime you meet someone, and you're brain starts to pick up on when you meet someone, you learn their name. Trust my words, he could pick up any name he could say like this. Most students in my classes could too! (I think my ADD/ADHD/Whatever kept me from being able to do this as quickly as most, but it works. He had us say something to the effect of (but use what works for you):

Hello, my name is ______, and your name is? (wait for answer) Nice to meet you _______.

Keep in mind, we were doing an in class exercise whereby we had to do this over and over with our classmates, but since, it has helped that part of my mind alot, and yes, it does sound really cliche. Please ignore that part, just trust that it REALLY does WORK.

my $.02, have questions, just ask

Re:Is there a name for what *I* have? (3, Funny)

GloomE (695185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565781)

Luckily I live in Australia.
I can get away with calling everyone "mate".

Re:Is there a name for what *I* have? (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565876)

Perhaps it is the stress of having to recall a name that makes you forget it. Happens to me - if I have to introduce people I suddenly get a complete block on their names even if I've known them for years. I don't think it is any kind of memory defect as such.
 

Re:Is there a name for what *I* have? (2, Insightful)

awol (98751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565910)

Yeah, what you have is "Couldn'tgivashitaboutyou"itis :-) Seriously though, I have/had the same issue and the real reason we can't remember peoples names is because we never really cared enough about that person to bother remembering. I am not having a go at you, but it sounds a lot like what many people have. The faces are easy because we are so deeply wired to remember them. But the name thing requires conscious effort and you probably aren't bothering.

It takes a fairly major mind shift when you first meet people, but once done, it is really easy. I am not saying that you will never forget a name but quite apart from all the "memory techniques" that you can read about, all I am saying is by simply trying to remember the name it will make a huge difference. For me my limit is about 8, I can get introduced to 8 people and with a tiny effort should be able to remember them all for a while (weeks) even longer if I actually go and talk to them all in the next hour or so.

Re:Is there a name for what *I* have? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565922)

I have some troubles with names too, as I suppose most people have. There are tricks you can try, for example building mental images of something the name suggests (John Smith -> a blacksmith hammering a bottle of Long John whisky), or connecting to someone else with the same name (so that's another George. Doesn't look like Bush, though), and so on. The sillier the better! Repeat the images or stories in your mind a few times during the first conversation with the guy (before you have the time to forget the name), and maybe later too, when you get the chance. In a group setting, prioritize. Try to learn the important players first, and deal with the others when you have time for them.

Re:Is there a name for what *I* have? (1)

cazzazullu (645423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565937)

I don't have a name for what you have, but I have something similar. There are three things I canNOT remember: dates, names and jokes. History lessons were a burden, and I don't even remember my parents birthdays. It took me three weeks before I could say my girlfriends name without hard thinking and hesitation. And when someone tells me a joke, well, how hard I try I forget it the same day.

But it does seem to get better when getting older, at least the names part. But that is more because of when I hear someone's name for the first time now, I know I easily forget it, and I will start repeating it over and over to myself the next minutes. Although I still forgot about 4 out of 5 names an hour later, at least sometimes I am able to remember them.

Strangely enough other things, like scientific trivia, I only need to hear once and I will never forget them.

Re:Is there a name for what *I* have? (4, Informative)

aug24 (38229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565952)

Me too. It's called Anomia [wiktionary.org]

Curable/copable for most people using mnemonics. I can do a few people at a time now, by imagining them in a hug with someone else with the same name. I hold the pictures better than the words. Still can't cope in a new contract when I have ten people to remember: I won't be able to hold any of them.

Only works for first names, and only names I've come across before, so not a perfect solution!

Justin.

Re:Is there a name for what *I* have? (2, Interesting)

graibeard (220988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565966)

No psych buff here but I remember reading that the association for names is stored in a different place, a more recent area that lives outside the hippocampus (primitive or early brain), probably because language skills came later on the evolution cycle. You can remember the aftershave/perfume they wear, mental image of their features and the way they walk, habits etc. because they are more closely linked to the hippocampus. Think early man and what he needed to know to survive, that's at the core and readily accessed, everything else was shuffled to the back.

So, I don't know if there is a name for it but I think it's just normal, everyone has it to a certain degree.

Nice: 43 Years Later Slashdot's Still got the edge (2, Funny)

Hack Jandy (781503) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565845)

This is older than internet and I combined. Did someone just take Psychology 100 recently?

HJ

Re:Nice: 43 Years Later Slashdot's Still got the e (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14565987)

This is older than internet and I combined. Did someone just take Psychology 100 recently?

Hmm. I think someone needs to go get checked out for just this sort of brain injury - if it was 1953, then it was 53 years ago, not 43. The year is 2006, not 1996.

More importantly (2, Interesting)

Leffe (686621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565868)

Did the operation cure the epilepsy?

Re:More importantly (2, Interesting)

bloodredsun (826017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565974)

I believe it did. He was thought to have bilateral temporal lobe eiplepsy, the removal of which cured or at least reduced his seizures markedly but left him with severve anterograde amnesia.

I had this problem... (4, Interesting)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565895)

... after a head injury, I was unable to form new memories. That mechanism was not working. I was totally conscious and talking to people, and yet from my perspective I didn't even exist. It is NOT like the movie Memento, because its simply impossible to have any self-awareness of your condition.

For the weeks that I was like this, I was essentially dead. I was lucky enough that for me it was temporary, though I still have some problems, but even if I weren't already an atheist it would have been total confirmation that there is no afterlife, because with that small part of my brain not working I was literally no longer a person, I didn't exist as a mind - I was just some pile of animated meat.

The process of regaining the memory "stickiness" was strange - that time feels like my birth.

Human Experiments (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565900)

But this research is OK because it is completely distinct from "bad" human experiments right? I mean, the end justifies the means here right? We're getting valuable data and all it cost was the long term memory of one solitary man.

Hooray for progress!

Re:Human Experiments (1)

bloodredsun (826017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565982)

So you think that intention doesn't matter? The idea was to cure this persons dibilatating epilepsy, not investigate the function of the anterior hippocampus. It was an experimental procedure as his epilepsy was life-threateningly bad. Check SUDEP in google.

Re:Human Experiments (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565996)

The idea was to cure this persons dibilatating epilepsy, not investigate the function of the anterior hippocampus.

The original operation involved cutting out large sections of this persions temporal lobes. I'm reasonably sure that this procedure would fall under the "experimental" heading as I doubt it would become an accepted practice once the results had been observed.

Textbook (1)

Cee (22717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14565999)

Speaking as a psychology geek, this is textbook. You hear about this case the first semester in class. But it's nice to see this on /. aswell, available to the general geek public.

The Missing Marine (1)

rca66 (818002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14566000)

In his great book "The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat" Oliver Sacks describes a similar case, where a former soldier is bound to the same condition. He is living shortly after WWII. During one of their talks Sacks shows him pictures from the moon landing. The man is completely shocked, and Sacks was very sorry about what he did. But at least the man forgot about this shock shortly afterwards.
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