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May 1958

Memory Deficit Produced by Bilateral Lesions in the Hippocampal Zone

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University, and the Montreal Neurological Institute, Reprint No. 585.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;79(5):475-497. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340050003001

It has often been assumed that memory depends upon the total action of the brain rather than upon some specialized intracerebral neuron mechanism. There is recent evidence, however, in support of the view that the recording of experience is localizable in the same sense that sensory functions and speech functions are localizable. Obviously, none of these subdivisions is separable from the work of the brain as a whole.

The following study shows that the capacity to record the daily current of conscious experience may be lost when there is bilateral destruction of a man's hippocampus and hippocampal gyrus. Functional paralysis of this recording mechanism does not, however, interfere with the patient's intellectual performance in other psychological tests not dependent on recent memory. Skills, language, and all those things which have already been learned are not lost.

This inability to record new experience is not found in cases of strictly unilateral