[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
June 19, 1987

Tapping Into 'Procedural' Memory Helps Patients With Amnesia to Acquire New Occupational Skills

JAMA. 1987;257(23):3187. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390230023006

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


WHEN A TORONTO company had to phase out the clerical job of a severely amnesic woman employee, it decided first to consult the University of Toronto's Unit for Memory Disorders. Company officials hoped that if the woman could be trained for a new job, she might be spared the financial and emotional hardship of being let go.

To Daniel Schacter, PhD, and Elizabeth Glisky, PhD, of the Unit for Memory Disorders, that 32-year-old woman, whom they refer to as H.D., presented both a challenge and an opportunity. The woman—who became amnesic in June 1980 after contracting herpes simplex encephalitis—was familiar to them from having participated in experimental studies of memory at the center. The woman's IQ was 84, and she had performed extremely poorly on the Wechsler Memory Scale test. Thirty minutes after testing, she was unable to recall anything of the stories, line drawings, or tasks of the test.