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January 23, 2007 Amnesiacs May Be Cut Off From Past

Summary: January 23, 2007
Amnesiacs May Be Cut Off From Past
and Future Alike
In the movies amnesia is bizarre, and thrilling. The star is usually a
former assassin or government agent whose future depends on
retrieving the bloody, jigsaw fragments that restore identity and explain
the past.
Yet in the real world, people with amnesia live in a mental universe at
least as strange as fiction: new research suggests that they are marooned
in the present, as helpless at imagining future experiences as they are at
retrieving old ones.
The new study, reported last week in The Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, is the first rigorous test of how brain-injured
people with amnesia mentally inhabit imaginary scenes. The results
suggest that to the brain, remembered experience and imagined
experience are reflections from the same mirror, rich inner worlds
animated by almost identical neural networks.
The findings provide a glimpse into what it might mean to truly live in
the moment. And they feed a continuing debate about memory. Some


Source: Addis, Donna Rose - Department of Psychology, University of Auckland


Collections: Biology and Medicine