The Self and Amnesia

In the Science Times today, there was an article about a professional artist who suffered from retrograde amnesia from viral encephalitis that was especially bad in the hippocampus.  Although she remembered who she was and recognized her family members, she could not remember any significant events from her life before her the disease.  She re-learned how to walk, her history, and even create art.  Researchers are using her as an example to study brain areas needed for creativity.

I had believed that our thoughts, memories, and experiences made us who we are (in fact, we have been discussing just that in class).  When creating a piece of music, writing, or painting, etc. you use personal experiences to express yourself; however, there are incredible similarities between her current portfolio and the pieces she created before the brain damage.  This implies that there is a part of your brain devoted to yourself and your memory besides the hippocampus and memories.How can she be creating similar pieces without knowing anything about herself? It’s an interesting article to consider especially as we are talking about our self definitions and what is the self this week.

2 thoughts on “The Self and Amnesia

  1. This idea of creativity reminds me of Ledoux’s line in Chapter 3, “The key to individuality, therefore, is not to be found in the overall organization of the brain, but rather in the fine-tuning of the underlying networks.” Very interesting how she was able to regain her “fine-tuning” to produce consistent artwork to what she did prior to her amnesia.


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