Neuropsychology of memory revisited
Annese, Jacopo The Brain Observatory, University of California, San Diego, California.
- Patient H.M
- Multiple memory systems
- Anatomy of memory
- Brain of patient H.M
- Digital library for the brain
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Localized brain lesions with observable behavioral consequences have historically produced “natural” experiments in which neuropsychologists could use ingenious tests to probe into different processes that underlie human psychological functions, including memory. This approach was inaugurated in the late nineteenth century by the French neurologist Paul Broca, who localized the “speech center” of the brain in a specific convolution of the frontal lobe. Since then, single case studies of cerebral lesions and the ensuing dissociations between damaged and spared functions have provided unquestionable evidence that multiple separate processes are behind fundamental and seemingly unitary experiences, such as memory. Neuropsychological data acquired during the convalescence of these patients, and in some cases throughout the rest of their lives, acquire true meaning once the neurological basis of the syndrome is described. In the past, postmortem examination was limited to gross autopsy findings and narrow local pathological examinations. With the introduction of high-resolution neuroimaging methods and novel digital technologies, it is now possible to create detailed maps of the whole brain of those neurological patients who have turned their adverse conditions into crucial contributions to the study of the human brain.
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