Totally Cerebral: The Man Without a Memory
- Source: Transistor
Imagine that every time you met someone new, the moment they left the room you forgot you had ever spoken to them, and when they returned it was as if you had never seen them before. Imagine remembering your childhood, your parents, the history you learned in school, but never being able to form a new long term memory after the age of 27.
Welcome to the life of the famous amnesic patient “HM,” who had experimental surgery to relieve his terrible epilepsy and awoke with a profound memory impairment. Neuroscientist Suzanne Corkin studied Patient HM for almost half a century, and considered him a friend, even though he could never remember how he knew her. Corkin gives us a glimpse of what daily life was like for him and his tremendous contribution to our understanding of how our memories work.
Inside the Episode:
For 50 years, the identity of Patient HM was hidden from the public, but when he died in 2008 we learned his name was Henry Moliason. We hear him speak in this episode, and talk about his cheerful willingness to undergo test after test (though once they were finished, he couldn’t remember ever having done them) in order to help others.
Suzanne Corkin has written a moving and fascinating account of his life and contribution to science called Permanent Present Tense: The Unforgettable Life of the Amnesic Patient, H.M.
Transistor is a transformative STEM podcast from PRX. Three scientist hosts — microbiologist Christina Agapakis, astrophysicist Michelle Thaller, and neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki — report on curiosities and current events in and beyond their fields. Sprinkled among their episodes are special science stories from around the globe. Presented with support from the Sloan Foundation.