Memory

Memory Loss

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Comment from E-mail

Can you discuss the nature of the "memory loss" that you suffered?

Woz

This may be simplified but here it goes. When you see or hear or othewise sense something, it's held in your shortterm memory to be perceived. If you hold it in short term memory for a while (5 seconds? 10 seconds? 15 seconds?) it can somehow (unknown) make it to a long term, permanent, memory. The processing path for this formation is well suspected to be through the hippocampus because people who can't form long term memories, like myself for 5 weeks, often have identifiable lesions in this area of the brain. This is called atereor grada amnesio or some such thing ('forward' amnesia). It is quite common after car crashes and plane crashes and the like. Mine wasn't diagnosed by doctors, friends, family, psychologists, etc. After all, with all my old memories, I could go places and ride my motorcycle, etc. People just thought that I was weird because I said weird things. I couldn't tell you that I'd seen someone 10 minutes before (I'm presuming) but I had no way to know that this amnesia existed or that I had it during the 5 weeks. I couldn't have told Steve that I had memory problems, as in the movie.

It was real. I never got any memories from this period. I would never have gone 5 weeks with my dogs in a shelter, nor left a missing tooth be untreated for this period.

The 'backwards' amnesia with which we are most familiar is called retrograda amnesia, or something like that.