Kendall Pickett & Elhadji Diop

Why we chose this topic:

We chose amnesia due to trauma because of a personal experience that occurred to someone in Elhadji's life. This person experienced a temporary amnesia episode due to head trauma that was caused in a car accident. This research might help us and others understand why she lost her memory temporally and regained it later.

What is it?

When involved in an event where there is injury to the brain memory loss is possible. There are two different types of amnesia that can occur. The first is Retrograde amnesia, where the person is unable to remember events that happened before the amnesia. The other is Anterograde amnesia, where the person is unable to create new memories after the event but memories from before remain intact.

In the BRAIN:

For people who have retrograde amnesia, the hippocampus part of the brain is damaged. There are also other parts that are damaged in addition because existing long term memories are stored in the neurons and synapse of multiple brain regions. For example, if the person is having trouble speaking and producing language the Broca's or Wernicke's part of the brain is most likely damaged. If there is damage to the temporal lobe or prefrontal lobe it is likely the person will not recall big events that had happened in their life. When people cannot make new memories the thalamus and hypothalamus are damaged.


In a research study a woman who underwent a right temporal lobectomy to treat her epilepsy was studied. In the surgery they took out her hippocampus. After the surgery, she was densely amnesic. She scored below 5% on all of the memory test that they gave to her. This was because she did not have a hippocampus and could not retain memories.


There is a movie called 50 First Dates, that touches on our topic of amnesia. In the movie, the main character gets into a traumatic car accident causing anterograde amnesia. She had the inability to create new memories and continuously lives the same day over and over again. Until, the character, played by Adam Sandler, falls in love with her and has to make her fall back in love with him every single day because she cannot remember. Eventually he becomes a key part in helping her find ways to remember events that happened just the day before.