Anterograde amnesia  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Anterograde amnesia is a loss of the ability to create new memories after the event that caused the amnesia, leading to a partial or complete inability to recall the recent past, while long term memories from before the event remain intact. Anterograde amnesia and retrograde amnesia, where memories created prior to the event are lost, can occur together in the same patient. To a large degree, anterograde amnesia remains a mysterious ailment because the precise mechanism of storing memories is not yet well understood, although it is known which regions of the brain are involved.

Islands of memory

Patients with anterograde amnesia have trouble recalling new information and new autobiographical events, but the data are less consistent in regards to the latter. Medveds and Hirst recorded the presence of islands of memory — detailed accounts — that were described by such patients. The island memories were a combination of semantic and episodic memories. The researchers recorded patients giving long narratives with a fair amount of detail that resembled memories that the patients had prior to the trauma. The appearance of islands of memory could have something to do with the functioning of adjacent cortical areas and the neocortex. In addition, the researchers suspect that the amygdala played a role in the narratives.

Anterograde amnesia in popular culture

In both film and literature, anterograde amnesia is used for its (often puzzling) dramaturgical possibilities, and both its humorous and tragical implications, often as a plot device; more often than not, the story relies on the condition. Examples for all four are the films Christopher Nolan's Memento (dramaturgy), Peter Segal's and Adam Sandler's 50 First Dates (humour), and the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Twilight" (plot device/tragic). Dana Carvey's character in the movie Clean Slate also had anterograde amnesia as a central plot point.

Other fictional characters who suffered the illness are the protagonists in the film Ghajini by Surya Sivakumar in Tamil and Aamir Khan in Hindi. It is also suffered by Dory in the film Finding Nemo, by Liz Lemon's brother Mitch Lemon on 30 Rock, and by Chihiro Shindo from Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two.. Gene Wolfe's trilogy beginning with Soldier of the Mist is written as the diary of a soldier in the Greco-Persian Wars who suffers from the condition. The main character in Meg Gardiner's novel The Memory Collector suffers brain damage brought on by contamination with a material containing carbon nanotubes.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Anterograde amnesia" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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