Post Traumatic Amnesia

Summer Thigpen

Why This Topic?

I am interested in Amnesia due to trauma because i think it is interesting/ sad. I feel like i might know what happens to the brain when this occurs but, i would like to research it. I also think it is amazing how the brain can heal itself and rediscover the memories lost.


Amnesia due to trauma is also known as post traumatic amnesia. It is a state of memory loss and confusion after a traumatic experience. The person is disoriented and they cannot remember anything before/after and incident. This is usually short term.

The Brain

When a traumatic event occurs the frontal or anterior temporal regions of your brain are being damaged. Causing you to loose memory. There is also some evidence suggesting that traumatic stress events can lead to the hippocampus shrinking, which is the organ that makes and processes memories.

The History Behind It

Theodule-Armand Ribot, a french psychologist, was one of the first scientists to study amnesia. He created Ribots law which stated that more recent memories tend to be lost rather than older memories.
Henry Molaison was a patient that suffered from epilepsy. A neurosurgeon tried a new approach involving brain surgery to "cure" him, he removed his medial temporal lobe. His epilepsy did improve however he lost the ability to form new long term memories. This became evidence to researchers that long term memory and short term memory are two very different things.

Little Facts

Cognitive or occupational therapy is one way to cope with amnesia. It helps regain memories by finding ways to retrieve memories or create new retrieval paths.
Some patients with anterograde amnesia will be able to remember memories but not what they were doing when the memory formed.