Wednesday, June 9, 2010

30 Second Memory

Memories fade but what if you could only remember the last 30 seconds? It's called anterograde amnesia and is one of the most bizarre and frightening things I've heard about in awhile.

From Wikipedia...
On March 29, 1985, Clive Wearing, then an acknowledged expert in early music at the height of his career with BBC Radio 3, contracted a virus which normally causes only cold sores, but in Wearing's case attacked the brain. Since this point, he has been unable to store new memories.

Because an area of the brain required to transfer memories from working memory to long-term memory is damaged, he is completely unable to form lasting new memories – his memory only lasts between 7 and 30 seconds. He spends every day 'waking up' every 20 seconds, 'restarting' his consciousness once the time span of his short term memory elapses (about 30 seconds). He remembers little of his life before 1985; he knows, for example, that he has children from an earlier marriage, but cannot remember their names. His love for his second wife Deborah, whom he married the year prior to his illness, is undiminished. He greets her joyously every time they meet, believing he has not seen her in years, even though she may have just left the room to fetch a glass of water. When he goes out dining with his wife, he can remember the name of the food (e.g. chicken); however he cannot link it with taste, as he has forgotten.

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