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Published online: 15 January 2007; | doi:10.1038/news070115-2
I can't imagine...
Brain damage that wipes out the past also takes out the future.
Imagine a day on the beach: the hot sand, warm sunshine and
aquamarine waters. Easy for you and me. But near impossible
for some amnesiacs, according to new research.
When Eleanor Maguire, a neuroscientist from University
College London, UK, asked volunteers to imagine a fictional
new experience, they had no trouble conjuring up detailed and
enticing scenes of forests, castles or beaches. As a memory
specialist, she wondered what would happen if she asked
patients with amnesia, who have a well-established deficit in
remembering their past experiences, to do the same thing.
They couldn't. For these patients, an imagined beach scene
sounded like this: "As for seeing I can't really, apart from just
sky... I can hear the sound of seagulls and of the sea... um.... the only thing I can see is
"They really do live in the present -- they can't richly imagine the past or future," Maguire