The importance of HM’s case study for understanding memory & neuroscience

What happened to HM?

Suffered brain injury as a result of surgical procedure to relieve him from seizures caused by epilepsy.

HM was a man known in the field of neuroscience as one of the most important case studies for the study of memory. He suffered from severe seizures as a result of epilepsy and in 1953, at the age of 27, he underwent brain surgery in an attempt to alleviate his symptoms. Specifically, doctors removed a portion of his brain in the medial temporal lobe, including the hippocampus, amygdala, and adjacent cortex, on both sides of his brain.

While the surgery was successful in reducing his seizures, it had an unforeseen consequence – HM began to suffer from severe anterograde amnesia. This meant that he was unable to form new memories beyond a few seconds and that he was only able to recall events that had happened before his surgery.

Researchers and scientists studied HM’s condition for decades, trying to understand the neural basis of memory and the role played by different regions of the brain in the formation and storage of memories. HM passed away in 2008 at the age of 82, but his case remains one of the most important and influential in the field of neuroscience.

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