Thursday, February 25, 2010

February 26

And now for something completely different; a birthday rememberance for an unforgettable amnesiac. HM, born in 1926, suffered from epileptic attacks as a child. At the age of 27, he underwent brain surgery to combat his seizures; a side effect of the surgery was retrograde amnesia, the inability to create new long-term memories. He lived to the age of 82, but couldn't remember anything after 1953.
He spent the rest of his life as a professional test subject, the case study known in research circles as "HM". HM would become the cornerstone of modern neurological research; the study of his dysfunction obliterated old theories on how the brain works, and inspired new ideas. His life offered physiological evidence of a subconscious- that alone deserves a place in history.
In 2008, he passed away, and his brain was sliced up and preserved for further research. Upon his death, his birth name was finally revealed to the world: Henry Gustav Molaison.
Today's video is a fanvid for the Foo Fighters' "Everlong," using clips from the Christopher Nolan film "Memento," which is most people's exposure to retrograde amnesia.
(BTW, the editor used some of the R-rated plot points, so this video is NSFW and SPOILERY.)

"Memento" isn't the only movie to use retrograde amnesia as a device; I can think of a few comedies that tried to milk laughs from it. I figured it was worth sharing that such a thing as retrograde amnesia actually exists, and somebody lived with it, in front of the world. Happy Birthday, Henry, and thanks for the memories...

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