Traumatic Smore of Amnesia

Taylor Campbell

Why I chose this topic

I chose this topic because I was curious about what has to happen in someones life in order for their brain to physically block out painful events for the persons well being. It might help me understand what happens in the brain for amnesia to occur from trauma.

All about amnesia due to trauma

Post traumatic amnesia is severe memory loss or confusion that follows a serious brain injury. The person affected is no longer able to store memories of events that occured after the accident. The amnesia could either be short term or long term; but it is usually not permanent damage. There is also another form of amnesia due to trauma called dissociative amnesia, which is the brain blocks out certain information about an event that was traumatizing. This type of amnesia differs because the memories are still in the brain, but are deep in the brain and usually do not surface.

The Brain

Most types of amneisa are affected with the hippocampus; the area of the brain that deals with storage and retrieval of memories. If the hippocampus is damaged, new memories may not be stored. Problems may also occur in the basal forebrain, which forms a chemical that helps brain cells store new information. Whether the amnesia be due to trauma physically or mentally, it is usually only these two parts of the brain that are affected and cause new memory making hard to do.

Research & Experiments

The Henry Molaison case is a patient who was studied throughout his whole life in order to link memory and brain function. He developed extreme anterograde amnesia after a bicycle accident that destroyed his hippocampus. The donation of his brain led to the discovery that memory can be traced back to specific parts of the brain, rather than the whole brain itself. Dr. Suzanne Corkin studied Henrys affects of the removal of his temporal lobe and hippocampus, and concluded the research.

Interesting Facts

Emotions effect memories that we collect so powerfully that if the negative emotions are strong enough, the memory can be buried deep in the brain that we no longer have access to it. For example, the traumatic events that cause PTSD causes extreme flashbacks and physical symptoms such as sweat and a heightened fight or flight response. In some cases, when PTSD is at a certain point, the person can have temporary amnesia to block out the events.


Interesting cases:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9_dqu7qz2w
http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/amnesia-man-hits-head-loses-memories/story?id=10396719