Guess who was apparently discussed at Neuroscience 2011? Clive Wearing. My girlfriend just sent me this article about him!
We all know about Clive and his peculiar dysfunction (and for anyone reading this who isn’t in our class, Clive is a guy with medial temporal lobe lesions who has essentially no short- or long-term memory). The article had a very different slant than our discussion – it focused mostly on the Clive’s maintenance of musical skill.
A few observations. The journalist focuses on the medial temporal lobe and doesn’t mention the fact that the hippocampus is the primary actor in Clive’s amnesia; the statement is clearly correct, but there’s a slight oversimplification in order to not name two fancy shmancy Latin words. I assume this is fairly standard fare for scientific writing.
I had a bit of a KK moment, if you will. “There are people who are surprised that a lesion in the MTL spared procedural memory?” said I. It’s weird; I take the distribution of the engram as being pretty well established, and I expect that most reading this would too. The benefits of a good liberal arts education, I suppose.
On another note, it’s really awesome that Clive is a subject of current study. His case is a really excellent example of severe amnesia, and his story is touching (especially his unimpaired love for his wife), but most case studies we learn about either got dissected a year or two ago or are ancient history. To see that that side of Psychology is still alive and well gives me a sort of nostalgic pleasure. And at Neuro2011, no less!