The Man With Only 7 Second Memory - Video

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The Man With Only 7 Second Memory

Clive Wearing is a man lost in time.  His memory can last sometimes for as little as 7 seconds.  He is in a constant state of waking up.  If asked a question - he sometimes forgets the question before he finishes his answer.  Every time he sees his wife - he thinks it's the first time in years even though she may have just left the room to get a drink of water.

The Facts:

On March 29, 1985, Clive, then an acknowledged expert in early music at the height of his career with BBC Radio 3, contracted herpes encephalitis. Normally causing only cold sores, in Wearing's case the virus attacked his brain. Primarily it damaged the hippocampus, which plays a major role in the handling of long term memory formation. Additionally, he sustained marginal damage to the temporal and frontal lobes. The former houses the amygdala, a component implicated in the control of emotions and associated memories.

Clive developed a profound case of total amnesia as a result of his illness. Because the part of the brain required to transfer memories from the 'working' to the 'long term' area is damaged, he is completely unable to encode new memories. Clive spends every day 'waking up' every few minutes, 'restarting' his consciousness once the time span of his short term memory elapses. He remembers little of his life before 1985; he knows, for example, that he has children from an earlier marriage, but cannot remember their names. His love for his second wife Deborah, whom he married the year prior to his illness, is undiminished. He greets her joyously every time they meet, believing he has not seen her in years, even though she may have just left the room to fetch a glass of water.

Despite having retrograde as well as anterograde amnesia, and thus only a moment-to-moment consciousness, Clive still recalls how to play the piano and conduct a choir--all this despite having no recollection of having received a musical education. This is because his cerebellum, responsible for the maintenance of procedural memory, was to no extent damaged by the virus. As soon as the music stops, however, Wearing forgets that he has just played and starts shaking spasmodically. These sudden movements are physical signs of an inability to control his emotions, stemming from the damage to his inferior frontal lobe. Unable to comprehend its structural deficiency, his brain is still trying to fire information in the form of action potentials to neurostructures that no longer exist. The resulting encephalic electrical disturbance leads to fits like those experienced by persons suffering from severe epilepsy.

The Man With Only 7 Second memory

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