Overview Of Amnesia Essay

1806 words - 7 pages

When people lose their ability to memorize data, they have amnesia. Amnesia also refers to an inability to recall information that is stored in memory. In simple terms, amnesia is the loss of memory. The causes of amnesia may be organic or functional. Organic causes may include brain damage through injury, or the use of specific drugs - usually sedative drugs. Amnesia may be one of the symptoms of some degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease. Functional causes are psychological factors, such as defense mechanisms. People with amnesia also find it hard to imagine the future, because our constructions of future scenarios are closely linked to our recollections of experiences. Being a little forgetful is completely different to having amnesia. Amnesia refers to a large-scale loss of memories that should not have been forgotten. These may include important milestones in life, memorable events, key people in our lives, and vital facts we have been told or taught (Nordqvist, 2009). There is an array of types of amnesia, but the most prominent types like anterograde, retrograde, transient global, dissociative, and traumatic affect many individuals daily.
“I do not even know how long she has been gone. It is as if I have woken up in bed and she is not here... because she is gone to the bathroom or something. Somehow, I know she is never going to come back to bed. If I could just... reach over and touch... her side of the bed, I would know that it was cold, but I cannot. I know I cannot have her back... but I do not want to wake up in the morning, thinking she is still here. I lie here not knowing... how long I have been alone. So how... how can I heal? How am I supposed to heal if I cannot... feel time?” (Nolan, 2000). The movie “Memento”, directed by Christopher Nolan describes a young man named Leonard who suffers from profound anterograde amnesia. He suffered from a traumatic brain injury, and has since found himself able to lay down new memories. His memories prior to this incident, however, remain in pristine order. Namely, all of his biographical information is intact. He knows whom he is, where he lived before the incident, but can remember nothing past that point. The movie depicts his predicament well, illustrating the day-to-day rituals that all anterograde amnesiacs must live by.
The most likely cause of anterograde amnesia is a lesion of the medial temporal lobe. Specifically, damage to the hippocampus alone can produce anterograde amnesia. This part of the brain is responsible for the laying down of declarative memories. The left and right sides of the MTL control different aspects of declarative memory-verbal and nonverbal respectively (Nordqvist, 2009). The patient cannot remember new information. Things that happened recently, information that should be stored into short-term memory disappear. This is usually caused by the trauma to the brain. However, a patient with anterograde amnesia can remember data and events,...

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